Small Business Checklist: Scouting Out a Location
Recently I was asked to contribute to an article about what to look for when scouting a location.
A Laundromat is a destination location, meaning that our customers will look for one when they need it and it will not be an impulse buy, but having the right location and property features have as much of an impact as the interior layout of the washers and dryers.
Some of the features I look for in my businesses and others should consider when scouting out a location are:
Parking- How long will a typical customer stay in your business and any other businesses sharing the same parking areas.
Will you loose too many spots due to lineups in other businesses?
How do your hours of operation and busy times compare with the other businesses?
Street Location and Access- Many corner lots are already taken by Gas Stations, Pharmacies or Fast Food. These are prime locations and probably out of the budget for new businesses.
One of the next best locations would be on the right hand side of a busy street just past a Stop Light. This allows your customers time to look at your sign and business while they are waiting at the light.
Two entrances ( one at each end of the lot) is beneficial as it allows a second chance if they miss the first one.
Is it a divided road with limited areas to turn Left or turn around?
Supporting Businesses- Are the businesses in the same building or neighboring buildings going to provide support, competition or be neutral?
Will your Teen Clothing Boutique be sharing a strip mall with a Tattoo Parlor, Auto Parts Store and Discount Hardware store? Locating beside a Hair and Nail Salon, Shoe Store and Coffee Shop / Bakery would complement the other businesses and reach a common demographic.
Visibility- If someone is driving how hard will it be to find your store?
Can the front of your store and your sign be easy seen and read / understood? Also will your customers be able to see inside the business from the street or parking lot to determine if they have the right place and if they want to go inside?
Consider when you flip through a magazine or a website, if you do not see something that interests you at a glance are you going to continue looking?
If you have a specialty business and your customers are looking for your location specifically it might not have an effect but will you be losing “drive by” traffic.
Tenant Improvements- Is the Landlord willing to provide improvements to the location or waive some lease payments in lieu of changes to the location? For example if the building needs new lighting will this be covered by the landlord to your specifications or will they install generic lighting that you will remove or replace.
Utilities- Are there adequate utilities available for your business? Power, water, sewer and gas may be available but is there enough capacity. The cost and time to increase any of these could be substantial.
Also who would be responsible for the cost in the interior and exterior to relocate the connections. Other considerations are Cable, Internet and Phone service.
Lighting: Is there adequate lighting to provide a safe environment at night and who is responsible to install, maintain and pay for the operation.
Planning / Zoning– Is the area zoned for your type of business. Are there restrictions for lighting, signs (size and location), ADA requirements, parking times, hours of operation.
Trash- Will your business require a dumpster, Can it be shared by other businesses, Where will it be located? How often will you need to access it and what will be your daily amount of trash? Will it need to be covered? Is recycling required?
Deliveries- What size of a truck will make your deliveries and possibly pickups? Is there access? Do you need a loading dock? How far away will the driver need to park? Are there restrictions on the delivery times due to other businesses or city by-laws.
As part of your due diligence and business planning make check lists of Musts and Wants and use it as a reference when looking for locations.
Here is the link to the article on the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) site.
Other contributors to the article were:
Tanya Keefe, co-owner of Sense-sational Therapy in Fort Gratiot, Michigan;
Walt Batansky, a site selection consultant with Avocat Group in Tampa, Florida;
Hope Gibbs, founder of PR and publishing firm The Inkandescent Group in Richmond, Virginia; and
Kevin Hoult, a business adviser services manager in Bellingham, Washington.
Please Comment, Like and Share if you got some value from this.
If you have any comments, please post them below.