Location, location, location. You’ve heard it before and it refers to more than where you buy your next home. The correct location of your business will determine whether you connect with your Target Market and generate the kind of sales you deserve and I’m not just talking retail.
OK, it’s a digital world and I can hear all the tech heads out there get ready for the argument that ‘online’ doesn’t matter (it does, but that’s another conversation). But for the purpose of this article, I am talking old school – yes Bricks and Mortar locations (I can hear the digital generation gasp). Whether you are a retail store or a business that has customers coming to you, your location will have an impact on your success when it comes to connecting with your Target Market.
I worked for many years in the retail management environment and it was very vital that stores were located in the right place. I used to spend hours sitting in the car watching traffic flows or in shopping centres observing people movements. Over 5 years I found retail sites for around 20 stores some of these were successful and some of these for absolute failures. What I learnt was making it easy for customers to find and engage with us it was a difference between a site we stayed in for the long term, or site became a drain on our finances
Of course, if you’ve got the budget, you can engage professional people to work out the best location for your store but most people don’t have that sort of money. Prior to running a retail business, I worked in the Telco industry. The Telco industry had a lot of money and would invest heavily with consultants to find the perfect site. I can assure you they got it right almost as many times as I would predict, so if you know what to look out for, you’re probably going to get a similar result and save a lot of money.
But if you have no experience, at least talk to the Commercial Agent (bearing in mind they want a sale) or hire a leasing consultant – the small cost they charge will save you a lot in the long run.
Either way, you must know who your customer is, what will motivate them to walk into your store and whether they are likely to be around your new site.
The main point I would make is, don’t decide on a site because of your own personal preferences or those of your close friends. You need to be objective and look at what your Target Market wants and what attracts them to you.
When we paid consultants to find a site, they would look at several key factors. Check these off before you start lease negotiations:
Traffic flow (Pedestrian and vehicular)
- past the store
- in the general area
- time of day
- of the store
- of signage
- of the entrance
- of window displays
- Could people easily park if it was on the high street
- Free timed and paid parking options
- Pick up opportunities (if people need a car to collect your goods eg: furnishings)
- Could people easily access the door in shopping centres (stairwells, escalators, seating areas all had an impact)
- Who else was in the area
- Length of tenure in the area
- Number of staff (less staff = fewer sales and is a great indicator of success)
Most importantly, we would ascertain whether our target market was ‘hanging out’ here. Believe it or not, we would even know whether sides of the street made a difference for our target market and trust me, it makes a massive difference in some areas (public transport, ease of parking, co-located businesses).
Co-location is always a great indicator of where you should be looking. In shopping centres, you have probably noticed that certain ‘types’ of retailers are clustered together. The obvious example is the food court, where food retailer conglomerate because ‘that’s where people go’ if they want to eat. The same was said for women’s fashion, sporting goods and of course telco. Are these stores catering to your target market as well?
Outside of shopping centres, High Streets also have similar conglomerations, so you want to ensure your business is co-located with other ‘like’ businesses. These may be clustered on a specific street, part of a suburb or be destinations on of themselves (think bulky good retailers or factory outlets).
So, before I talk about non-retail businesses, I will say that I am talking about a business where your clients come to your premises at some point. Obviously, my points don’t apply if no one visits you. In which case, go where the best coffee and cheapest rent is.
If your clients do visit you, think about what your location says about your business. For example, if you’re a financial planner who has clients visit, being located in an industrial park may not make a great statement about your brand, unless of course, the businesses in the industrial park are your target market.
Having access to parking and or public transport can impact on your positioning. Think again of the financial planner. If their Target Market is young, busy professionals, having convenient parking is a must. On the other hand, if their target market is retirees, public transport could well be essential.
What would your Target Market require of your business premises?
- Access to cafes/restaurants for meetings?
- Professional street address?
- Meeting rooms?
- Conference facilities?
Consider also the mix of businesses near you. Are they the kind of businesses that add credibility to you and your business? Are they potential clients themselves or are their client’s potential clients for you? This could also lead to possible strategic alliances that your business neighbours could enter into.
Whether we like it or not, people make up their minds about a business through the sum total of a myriad of, what may seem like, inconsequential items. So put your business a step ahead and think about whether your location is right to attract your Target Market.
But above all else, make sure your shop or premises is easy to find. If you’re tucked away up a laneway, upstairs or somewhere slightly difficult to find, make sure you have great signage and place some clear directions on your website for customers. Perhaps even take some pictures and show these on your ‘find us’ page. The easier you make it for people to find you, the less likely they are to arrive late, frazzled and or annoyed…and no one wants an annoyed customer in any industry.