Thirteen years ago my firm had outgrown my office and we needed to move. The office next door became available, and I jumped at the opportunity to rent it. I thought that moving right next door would make it easier to move and easy for my customers to still find me.
Making such a quick decision turned out to be a terrible decision. The office was run down, traffic made it hard to get in and out of the parking lot, and it really wasn’t set up in a way that worked well for us. Worse yet—I was now stuck with it for five years.
When the lease was finally up we hired a commercial real estate agent to show us what was available. If you have ever bought a home, you know it is very easy to forget the features of different properties after you have looked at a dozen of them.
But before you start looking for a new location for your business, make sure you ask yourself the following questions:
- How important is location to your business? For a restaurant or a retail location, you need to have a place that gets lots of traffic from your most ideal customers. A professional office needs to be easy for your clients/patients to find you, but traffic isn’t that important. In service industries where the customer almost never comes to your place of business (plumbers, mail order companies, internet businesses, wholesalers), you just need to look for property that is affordable and works for your business.
- What type of location is best for your business’s success? When it comes to choosing a location, what do your customers consider important?
- Will the customer walk there? If so, are you conveniently located near their home or place of business?
- Will the customer drive? If so, do you have sufficient parking? Do you share the parking lot with an adjacent business?
- Will more customers come by if you are located near businesses similar to yours? This has proven to be true for car lots and restaurants.
- Will the reputation of the neighborhood appeal to your ideal customer?
- How much rent can you afford? This is often the only thing business owners look at. Obviously, it is important. If you can’t afford what you would like, then sign a short-term lease and grow your business to the point where you can have the location you want.
- Does the possible location work for your business? This should be the biggest consideration when choosing a location. If you are starting a restaurant, you need to be able to put in a kitchen. If the landlord won’t allow it, then obviously this location is eliminated.