A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Location for Your Franchise
In most cases, location is key to business success. If you’re working to establish the most successful franchise possible, you'll need to work out the optimal premises for your franchise unit. Here, we take a look at eight factors you need to consider if you're going to make the right decision.
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A guide to choosing the perfection location for your franchise
1. Franchise’s image
Though it’s not always obvious, most successful businesses carefully consider how their location and specific business premises reflect the brand image they intend to portray.
When it comes to general location, businesses need to be aware of the reputation of the area they're moving into. For instance, if you're considering opening a new coffee shop that's got an artisanal/hipster vibe going on, you probably want to open in an up and coming neighbourhood, where rents aren't too high, but there's a large market and enough footfall to support your business. In other words, a trendy café needs to be set up in a trendy neighbourhood.
In terms of the specific property you trade out of, it’s necessary to consider how the building itself reflects your brand image. Are you trying to portray your business as classic, elegant and chic? You’re probably best suited to a historical building with plenty of character and ornate embellishments. Want something a little edgier, underground and industrial? It may be a good idea to look at old warehouse spaces.
While the examples offered above are a little exaggerated, they reflect the importance of location on your franchise's image and reputation. Your chosen building should enhance and complement your image, not detract from it.
2. Target customer
Demographics are important. As we've already mentioned, there's no point in establishing a business in a location where there's no demand for your product or service. However, the importance of how close your target audience is to your business premises will vary from business to business.
For instance, if you operate in a niche market, where customers are likely to travel specifically to purchase your services or products, proximity may not be too much of an issue. For retailers and many other service providers, proximity to the target market is absolutely essential.
It's also important to consider how stable the local community is. Is it a wealthy area with plenty of disposable income? Is it overly dependent on a particular industry or job provider? If so, an economic downturn could severely impact their spending power. Is there a healthy pool of potential employees? Does the area have access to the resources you need to run your business? There are a thousand and one demographic issues to consider, so take the time to do some thorough research.
3. Access, parking and foot traffic
How your customers intend to reach your business will determine where it should be placed. If individuals in your target market are likely to be car owners, you have greater freedom but need to consider things like traffic, parking and loading/unloading spaces. If your target market is likely to utilise a different form of transport, you’ll need to be located close to the relevant transportation hub. Convenience is key. It’s also important to consider disabled access, stock delivery and whether certain times of the week are likely to be more or less busy than others.
There are some major benefits of choosing a more out-of-town location for your business. By avoiding high density, commercialised areas, you can save on rent and purchase prices. This is, of course, if your business won’t suffer due to poor transport links and not being in an area frequented by potential customers. You probably would avoid opening a hair salon in the countryside and choose to instead pick a busy high street with high footfall. However, if you’re running a sign-making franchise that operates from just a website, as long as all of your staff drive or access the location easily, it doesn’t really matter if there isn’t high customer footfall. You will save on rent bills and can also be close to the motorway, making deliveries that bit easier. At the same time, if you choose somewhere too far out, then you might not be able to attract qualified and skilled individuals to become employees. This will be particularly relevant if they have been offered numerous jobs and are contemplating the pros and cons of each opportunity.
4. Surrounding businesses
The businesses surrounding your new franchise premises can have a big impact on its success. They have an effect in two distinct ways. These can be broadly described as positive and negative effects.
The negative effect is fairly self-explanatory. If you have competitors too close to your location, your business will generally suffer. There are exceptions to this rule – for example, businesses in an entertainment complex or food hall – but most franchises will want to avoid exposing themselves to too much competition. Not only will a competitor syphon off a certain percentage of your custom, it will also increase your marketing spend, as you'll have to work harder to attract clients.
The positive effects surrounding businesses can have on your franchise are evident on high streets, shopping centres and industrial estates around the country. By locating your business alongside others with a similar clientele, you’re likely to increase the traffic moving through your store. There are also other intelligent pairings to consider when setting up a franchise. For instance, restaurants benefit from being close to entertainment businesses, such as theatres and cinemas.
Make sure to research the crime rates of the area before confirming the location. Depending on the likelihood of crime occurring, you may need to take additional security measures to ensure that your premises is safe and secure. It could also affect your insurance premiums too. Knowing the crime rates is an important part of choosing the perfect location for your franchise. On the Virgin Media website, you can type in the postcode of a particular location and, based on the UK crime report, see how safe it is.
The history of the building you intend to utilise as your business premises can help inform you as to whether you’re making a good decision. If you’re opening a restaurant in a building that’s previously been home to five failed food businesses, you may want to consider the fact that there’s something inherently wrong with the location. Likewise, if the previous business was a success, try to work out what made it a success and whether those reasons are applicable to your own enterprise and can be replicated.
7. Skill base in desired location
Double-check that the skill base in the area can fulfil what you need it to, as well as employment rates. If the successful operation of your business relies on highly skilled workers, then you should check whether there are enough in the area. Having a talented and cooperative team of employees is often one of a franchise’s largest assets. So, if you set up in area where it isn’t possible to easily achieve this, your business could flop before it’s even really taken off.
You could use recruitment agencies and they could send you relevant CVs based on your specifications so you can get a better understanding of the market. You don’t normally have to pay recruitment agencies anything unless you decide to then interview and hire a candidate. Or another way to access this information is by posting a free advert on an online jobsite. This should then demonstrate the abilities of employees in that area.
8. Planning regulations and infrastructure
An intelligent franchise investment is one that’s supported by a great deal of research, preparation and planning. The same goes for selecting a business premises. One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when choosing a location is not looking into planning regulations and general infrastructure issues.
If you move into a building only to find that you can’t develop it in the way you want because of local planning laws and building protections, you’ve wasted an incredible amount of money. If you move into a building and can’t install the equipment you require because of infrastructure issues, you’ve lost even more. In order to ensure that nothing’s going to stand in your way, make sure you look into local ordinances and zoning restrictions and, if possible, find the blueprints for the building.
As you can see, a lot of thought needs to go into picking a franchise location. Franchisees need to take into account their brand image, key demographics, access issues, competition, security, skillset of potential employees, the chosen premises’ history and any planning regulations or restrictions that may be in force. Failure to do so could impact heavily on your chances of success.
To find out more about our best franchise opportunities at the moment, click here. Here at Point franchise, we have a vast variety of franchises on our books, all looking for franchisees to expand their franchise network.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©
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