Choosing the right location for your business is essential and is one of the most important things to get right if your business is to be a success. Sage Business Expert Andy Kenny of Andy Kenny Fitness shares his experience of finding the right location for his business.
Location. Location. Location. It’s as vital to your success, as the product or service you are selling. Even an internet business, must know where to position itself on the world wide web, or be lost in obscurity.
Having recently expanded from a small to a much larger premises five times the size, I learned the hard way that choosing the right location is crucial. As a personal trainer specialising in helping people lose weight, it’s nothing unique. However, I know my experience and expertise, is. Unlike most other trainers I wasn’t always in good shape and was very overweight. So overweight and unfit, that on a hot day walking down the street, a woman felt it necessary to stop her car and offer me a lift. I went from gladly taking her up on her offer of help, to getting fit, becoming a personal trainer and then cycling 4400km across Australia unassisted and in just 42 days.
Having this unique background was of little use to my business, if no one knew about it. Until my expansion, my location was a small but very busy, personal training studio. Hidden inside an office complex and without any on street presence or signage, new business came from referrals. While I made a good living, it very much restricted any potential for expansion. From 2011 I learned to use social media very well to position my business.
This location near the top of the (Facebook) social media ladder, ahead of the big gym chains, gave me the confidence to bring my location in the real world, to a much bigger and wider customer base. I’m now located in the heart of Dublin, in Grand Canal Dock and have a great on street presence with huge numbers of passing traffic.
A very successful competitor had relocated from Dublin 12, across to the other side of the city and within a year has gone out of business. Such a shame as he was a top trainer, but it taught me that no matter how good you are, relocating to the other side of the city will be impossible for clients to follow and you will be reliant on starting afresh, trying to build a client base again from scratch. When choosing the right location:
- Consider whether your existing clients can easily reach your new premises. Can you afford to lose some of your existing customers? Even the most loyal customer will struggle to purchase your product or service, if your location is inconvenient.
- How close are you to your competitors and what do you offer that’s different? Being better than your competitor is of little use, if you can’t let the passing potential customers quickly/easily realise this.
- Locating near to your competitor can have its advantages. Your area could become a hub for your industry drawing in customers and if you’ve got a superior product or service you should be aiming to capture them. Lots of home stores locate beside each other, fast food restaurants, car garages, coffee shops, gyms etc. Why not your business?
- Is your potential new premises located in an area high in your target market? 90% of my clients are women 28-35 years old and working professionals. Grand Canal Dock is densely packed with this target market. There would be little point locating to an industrial estate much higher in male skilled workers. Know your customers and be very specific when targeting them.
- What happens if you saturate all your potential clients in your local area? For example if a dance studio was located in Sandymount. It might be very busy when it opens but pretty soon local people will have seen it, decided whether to try it out or not. Those that will try it out may become loyal customers, move onto something else after a few weeks or decided it wasn’t for them etc. The studio will quickly exhaust its local foot traffic and ability to grow. Being located along the coast also means it’s got its back to the sea and only has 180 degrees of locality.
- Will an on street presence increase your business? If this is paramount to your business, research the footfall directly outside your potential location. Will you be visible to passing traffic, the LUAS or DART etc., and can you easily entice them to visit your premises or website?
- Is parking easy to find at your peak times? I have learnt the hard way that this is crucial and wasn’t a big consideration when I moved. This has definitely become a growing problem as I’ve gotten busier and spaces have become harder to find, frustrating and putting off clients.
- Can you negotiate a rent-free period?
- Is your landlord and the council willing to allow signage and pavement signs?
- What was previously in your new location, why is it vacant and for how long? Is it possible to speak to the previous tenant for feedback on the landlord, location and parking? There’s a unit near where I live and its constantly changing leaseholders. Each time it closes down the next new business comes in and it soon follows suit. Each new business is in the retail industry and the unit clearly isn’t located correctly for retail and so keeps failing.
- Has your new premises room for expansion if your business grows?
- Will your new location significantly add to you or your staff’s commute, making it difficult to maintain job satisfaction?
- Whatever your set-up budget is, double it at least. Keep running costs down, if your new premises has astronomical rent, service charges or rates. Even if busy are you profitable enough to warrant the dream location?
I hope these tips help you choose your ideal location. Share your experiences of finding the ideal location for your business in the comments below.