Location Scouting Tips for Your Small Business
Location, location, location. You’ve likely heard this phrase related to residential homes – location can make or break a property. The same holds true for a commercial location – perhaps even more. If you’re considering a move or looking into a business location for the first time, here are some things to consider.
Take a hard look at your monthly cash flow. Can you afford a rent or mortgage payment each month?
On top of that cost, it’s important to understand that your financial obligations are more than a monthly payment. Shared expenses – like lawn care, sign maintenance, lighting or janitorial services – can add up. Make sure these additional costs are clearly outlined in the contract you sign. If you’re purchasing the business, look at the annual property taxes and insurance requirements. It’s also smart to calculate moving costs. It can be extremely expensive to move a business to a new location. You might be better off staying put.
Staff Work Space
Is this a location where you would like to spend the day? Determine if the space is big enough to accommodate your staff. Are you able to alter the lighting, put up a fresh coat of paint or change the signage outside? Natural light, clean bathrooms and a functional kitchen area are all amenities that go a long way to make employees happy.
How accessible is the location? Will you be able to easily give directions to your business and is it easy to find? Do a little scouting to discover if your business will be close to major roads, your suppliers, public transportation, etc. Parking can be a big issue – will the location have dedicated parking spaces for your staff and customers? If needed, is there a loading dock or other large entrance that can accommodate deliveries?
Is this location safe and regularly patrolled by law enforcement? Take a look at the local crime reports to get a better idea of neighborhood safety. You can also make an appointment to sit down with the local community police force liaison to ask specific questions about crime in the area. Consider the surrounding businesses as well. Would your business fit in with others in your area? You probably wouldn’t want a childcare facility next door to a strip club.
There are many legal obligations when you sign on the dotted line. First, make sure you are signing the lease as a company representative. If you sign as an individual, you’ll be personally responsible down the line. Can you sublease? Is the area zoned for your type of business? Are there any restrictions related to signage, parking, lighting, etc.? It’s a great idea to have an attorney who specializes in commercial leases or property purchases look over anything before you enter into an agreement with a landlord or seller.
Finally, if a dedicated location for your store isn’t a reality, there are options. Check out this ShopKeep blog, Non Traditional Store Location Options. Suggestions include going mobile, renting space in another business location, creating a pop-up store and more.
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