Choosing the right location for your business can make or break it. It’s important to consider all of your options carefully before making your final decision. Think about how much foot traffic you want on a daily basis, whether you want to be near public transportation or stay off the beaten path, and what type of neighborhood you want to represent your business in, such as hip and trendy or more sophisticated and mature. If you get these details right, your business will be around long after those that picked their locations on the whim of one or two factors.
If you’re opening up a retail space, parking is a huge deal. It’s not just about how much is available on-site—it’s also about how easily customers can access your business location. If parking isn’t readily available, it may scare off potential customers who aren’t willing to risk parking around town or trekking too far in search of your services.
Take note of nearby public transportation options, as well as street and city parking availability (particularly if you’re operating a service that people are likely to need quickly). Also make sure there are no restrictions on street parking at night. This could hurt your customer base significantly if they can’t find convenient spots after dark.
While there are many considerations that go into choosing a location for your business, these are some of the most important factors to keep in mind when narrowing down options.
One of your top priorities when choosing a location is visibility. If you’re opening up an shop/salon or studio, how many cars are going by your building every day? What about at lunch hour or in rush hour? How far away are people coming from? A great location is one that’s visible to as many people as possible.
You want signage and you need people to be able to see your sign and easily find it without having to search around too much. In addition, if you have any kind of signage out front, make sure it can be seen clearly from all angles.
Make sure your signs make your service obvious, so everyone knows what you do! Savvy Pet Spa is a classic for this. If we are at a grooming event, everyone knows we are grooming software, but if we go to Crufts where a big chunk of people are general public, we have to be sure our stand screams “business software” and that its obvious we are talking directly to the groomers, not the pet owners, otherwise we spend all day explaining that we are not in fact a spa for pets.
- Lifestyle of the area
Where you want to open your business is one of its most important factors. Think about what type of clientele you want to attract; if you’re planning on operating in an upscale area, make sure that it’s compatible with your personality, services, brand and USP. If you choose a location near lots of other businesses, consider how much competition there will be. You may have to raise prices or offer more value in order to stand out from competitors.
On the flip side, if you plan on opening up shop in a less populated area, make sure there are enough potential customers around who can afford your services or products. You also need to think about whether or not customers can easily access your location via public transportation or car—and whether they have parking available nearby.
- Cost of Living
This is an obvious factor. Some businesses are less affected by cost of living, but when it comes to day-to-day necessities like food and clothing, location matters. If your business provides an essential service you may find you are in demand everywhere but location may affect the prices you can comfortably charge. If you market yourself as a luxury service, you may find people in less affluent areas consider that you re not for them.
Cost of living also factors into your labor costs if you’re hiring employees. If they won’t be able to afford to live in your area, they might move away or look elsewhere for work after they start. Think about how much money you’ll need to pay them (and yourself) in order to stay competitive with other local employers. If there aren’t many jobs available locally, that could mean more competition for those who do want to stay put. Which means higher wages for everyone involved. If there are plenty of jobs available locally, that could mean lower wages as companies compete with each other for talent. But it could also mean more job opportunities overall.
- Income per household
This is one of your most important factors, as you’ll want to be sure that there are enough people living in close proximity who can afford what you have to offer. It’s easy enough to Google X average income YYZ zip/postal code and get an idea of what your potential clientele looks like.
You should also take into account how many households there are in your area and the average age, number of families, number of pet owning families etc depending on your target client. If you’re selling $8,000 wedding packages it’s probably not worth setting up shop in a small town with just 1,000 elderly residents.
- Walkability score in the area
Walkability is an important factor, particularly if you’re going to be selling products. If potential customers are driving everywhere, you’ll probably have less customers than if they’re walking by regularly. You might consider local traffic patterns and whether people can easily walk to your business, or if there are any large structures that may block them from walking in your direction. If you want walk in clients and add on product sales, you want footfall regularly outside your door.
- Crime rate in the area
The more violent crimes committed in an area, whether by strangers or acquaintances, theft and vandalism, etc., will impact your business. If there’s a high volume of crime in an area you’re considering opening up shop, it’s likely customers won’t frequent your business as often or stay as long. The less potential customers have to visit your store, the less traffic you have and therefore fewer sales.
It may also be difficult to find staff willing to work at a location that has higher rates of crime. If possible, consider looking into crime statistics before choosing a location. You can also search Google Maps using keywords like crime rate or neighborhood watch. You can then see what comes up in terms of results from local news outlets, blogs, etc. Don’t forget about online reviews too! They can be helpful indicators when deciding on where you want to open your business.
- Population density (people per square mile or kilometer)
The number of people per square mile or kilometer within your business’s location is an important factor in determining whether it will be successful. If there aren’t enough people nearby, you may have difficulty attracting customers. However, too many people may cause them to be spread out too thin, causing you to lose potential business. Having a large population nearby allows you more leeway when it comes to making advertising decisions.
- Weather patterns
This is less of an issue in the UK, where the weather is less extreme, but if you are in an area of extreme weather, talk to your local Chamber of Commerce or read weather reports to see if there are consistent seasonal weather patterns that might affect your business.
Other weather or season related things to consider is whether your building is on a flood plain. This is likely to be more of an issue with global warming in the future. Is your coastal based business likely to fall into the sea in the next 30 years? Insurance, loan and mortgage options will be affected these locations.
Also if your town is a seasonal holiday town consider if there are enough locals to bring you in enough business all year round.
- Business planning
If you are just starting your business journey, make sure to cover location in your business plan. If you would like any help with business planning, have a read of the Savvy business planning blogs (https://www.itsallsavvy.com/blog/the-five-biggest-mistakes-made-when-setting-up-a-small-business/). Savvy also has a business planning guide just for pet groomers to go with our Savvy Pet Software platform. If you would like a copy email firstname.lastname@example.org