Finding a new home for your business is an exciting process. But determining a major aspect of your business (it’s location) over an extended period of time is not something to be taken lightly. Use the following 5 tips to ensure that you find the perfect option.
1. Drive the Market
While getting a sense of space availability online is a good start, nothing compares to touring your market in person. The perspective of physically visiting each site is invaluable for giving you a sense of the overall feel of the building, its surrounding environment, its accessibility, etc. And no matter how much digging you do online, you just will never see every opportunity available. Sometimes the best deals come with properties that can only be found in person.
2. Put Your Broker’s Contacts to Work
Make sure you have access to all the information, not just the information that is available to the public. Your broker has professional search tools and networking contacts that may open up more opportunities than you would otherwise have access to. They may even be able to alert you to a property that hasn’t yet hit the market, giving you a great opportunity to get in at the right time.
3. Get Local Perspective
Put yourself in the shoes of a local. If you lived in the area, where would you shop? Where would you get lunch? Where are the most noticeable businesses located? It may be a worthwhile investment to actually spend a few days in a hotel or at a friend’s house in your market to get a sense of what locations are truly the most popular and convenient for the local residents. If you can’t spare a few days to make your life a case study, at least start up some friendly conversations with the locals in your market to determine what location(s) would make it easiest for them to find your business.
3. Evaluate the Life Phase
Every area goes through life phases: birth, growth, prosperity, decline, death, rebirth. What does the future look like for your location? It may be tempting to start a business in an area that has a reputation for prosperity, but is in fact already in decline. On the other hand, an area that used to be dead but has recently experienced a re-birth may bode very well for the future. Be honest with yourself when evaluating the life phase of each location and get some local perspective to help with this evaluation in order to set yourself up for long-term success.
4. Keep Your Options Open
Resisting the urge to commit yourself emotionally or financially before signing the dotted line will serve two purposes. First, if for whatever reason the deal doesn’t work out with your top choice, you have a fallback option that will save you the time of having to start over with your search. Second, having a second option gives you confidence during negotiation, rather than desperation. This confidence will allow you to fully leverage your negotiating power giving you not only the best location, but also the best price.