Deciding to open a store, or that the time is right to give your online outlet a brick and mortar base, is a big deal. It’s your chance to create something meaningful, a legacy, or a family business. It’s an opportunity to make money for yourself away from traditional employment and to reap the rewards of owning your own business. If you already sell online, it’s a way to increase sales, to appeal to a new audience and to take your business in an exciting new direction. But, when it comes to making your new business work, location is crucial. Get the location wrong, and your business won’t stand a chance. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some ways to make sure you find the right location for your store.
Find an Area with Consistent Economic Growth
The larger area in which you choose to open your business can be more important than the specific location within that area. You want to find somewhere like Cedar Hill that is experiencing a period of sustained growth, where new businesses are opening and thriving, where people are spending money, and the economy is improving.
An area of new growth can be great, but it’s a risk. Is this economic growth going to last? Or is it the result of an individual event, which might mean that it stabilizes again quickly. An area of sustained growth is a great place to start your business. It’s popular; people are willing to travel there to find the companies that they need. There may be influxes of young professionals looking to spend money moving to the area. In a city of consistent economic growth and thriving business development, there will be excellent networking opportunities, connections to be made and plenty of support.
Of course, the area that you choose will also depend on the nature of your business. A small independent boutique might not do well in an area with prominent software development startups. Research the whole area, not just specific locations. Look at the economy, crime rates, transport links and even the weather before making a decision.
Get to Know Your Customers and Your Products
You can’t decide where to open your business without knowing your customers and your products. There’s no point in opening in a poor area if your products are luxury and have high price points. Equally, you don’t want to open in an affluent area if your products appeal to a young, student market. Get to know your products, learn their pros and cons, understand your services and pricing and then learn everything that you can about your market. First, ask yourself if they match. Do some research to make sure your target market actually want, need and can afford your products. If not, which are you going to change? Your products or your target audience? When they fit together, think about where you’d find your target audience. Where do they live? Where do they work? Where do they shop? Where do they spend their weekends and evenings? What do they do for fun? In short, where will you find them? That’s where your store needs to be.
How Important is Location to the Success of Your Business?
It’s also essential to understand how important the location of your store will be to your business. If your business relies on exposure and passing footfall for business, then it might be worth paying higher rents to get into a sought after and busy area. But, if your business is more of a destination, and people will be willing to travel, the location might not be as necessary, and you might want to consider saving money.
Businesses that rely on exposure might be smaller stores, boutiques, and eateries. They need people to see them before they decide to come in. Few people head into town in search of a Starbucks, but they see the sign, they are thirsty or tired, and they decide to pop in there and then. Destination stores are larger. They offer bigger ranges or a shopping experience. Which are you?
Monitor Passing Footfall
Don’t just assume that a location is busy with plenty of people walking by because it seems as though it should be. Just because somewhere is busy on a Saturday afternoon doesn’t mean that people visit on a Tuesday morning. Spend some time there, monitor the location, look at the people on the street and find out more about who is walking around.
Check Out the Competition
What about the competition? Competition is good in business and having close competition can be an advantage. It can mean that you are based in a thriving area. That you’ll have customers that value choice and that you’ll be able to pick up new customers quickly. But it can also mean that as a new business, it is hard to stand out. There are certainly pros and cons.
But, either way, it’s essential to monitor how well any competition in the area are doing, and what they are doing. Look at their advertising campaigns, their busy periods and the times that they struggle. Ask yourself what you could do differently, if you could bring in new customers, and if you can realistically compete in this location.
How Much Space Does Your Store Need?
Now, be more specific. Choosing an area is a great start, but now you need to find the right building. Think about how much space you need, what kind of parking you want and any other accessibility concerns. Look at the lease and access any restrictions. Find out what utilities are available, thinking about heating, electricity, water and internet access, as well as the safety of the building.
Then, think about how much work you are willing to put in to get ready for opening day? Do you want to move in, fill it with your stock and be ready to go? In which case, you might want a building that has already been a shop. Or, would you rather put more work in to really make it your own?