In these times of virtual offices and virtual storefronts, it is possible for many businesses and entrepreneurs to work from a cave. Nevertheless, some businesses by necessity, or by their service model, require a local location. But, where?
Selection vs. Elimination
The biggest mistake site locaters make is to start by choosing a site, then trying to acquire it. It is better to start with all the possibilities, then begin eliminating those that do not meet a prioritized list of success factors identified for this business location. The Process of Elimination gives a more thorough evaluation than the Process of Selection. It also allows you to negotiate from a position of strength, knowing that through the process of elimination, you have identified a number of acceptable alternatives from which to choose.
12 things to consider to make an educated location decision.
Traffic Patterns and Drive Times: What does the traffic look like on the days of the week and the times of the days you expect your customers want to be there?
Demographics: What is the demographic makeup of the population living, working or driving by the area, and does it match the consumers you want to attract and the employees you want to hire?
Visibility: Can drivers and passengers see your storefront? I know lots of businesses classify themselves as “destination locations.” That means they feel like their customers drive to their location on purpose, not just on impulse. Be careful not to be so in love with your business that you take visibility for granted. Great visibility can be the equivalent of thousands of dollars of marketing. Think of your location as a billboard.
Accessibility: I’m talking about ingress and egress by vehicle to your location. Do traffic signals back up traffic past your points of ingress and egress, or do they block traffic so that accessibility is made easier? Can a driver turn left into or out of your location?
Utilities: Water, sewer, gas, electricity and Internet service availability are affordable in Topeka, but does your location deliver an adequate supply for your intended purpose?
Parking: Topekans expect to walk a few blocks when they shop in Lawrence or Kansas City, but we have different expectations for our city. Does your location provide sufficient parking, and does it meet governmental requirements for the size of the operation?
Delivery-Receiving: How are deliveries and/or pick-ups going to be made, especially during business hours? Where do you dispose of trash and is that safe for your employees?
Competitors: Where are your competitors, and do you want to be close to them or as far away as possible?
Cannibalization: If this will be a new location for a multiple location business, how many of your current locations will lose business because of your new location?
Street Projects: Are street improvements scheduled that might temporarily or permanently disrupt traffic patterns in the future?
Future Considerations: What will this location look like 10 years from now?
Pioneering: Do you have the staying power to be the first retailer in the area? History remembers pioneers, but many pioneers got shot. If you are counting on the location being the retail growth area of the future, it might be better to let someone else be the canary in that coal mine.