As a new franchise partner, your first step is finding the most suitable place to run your business, for you and your chosen brand. When this vital search phase is launched, there are all kinds of things to consider in order to plan for success.
The FRANCHISEBIZ team works with premium global brands and proven high performing business models throughout multiple, varied markets.
Using this valuable experience, we have identified 4 guiding principles that can help when you start searching for a location :
Physically immerse yourself in the target area
You may already be very familiar with the neighbourhood or street you are targeting but remember retail is always in motion. It is worth keeping a regular eye on the area to see how it is evolving over time. Visiting and spending time there makes certain you understand footfall, consumer dynamics and how potential customers behave.
- Identify local contacts who can help you to find the right location and meet them to explore the area together. Diversify your research and use multiple sources of information as much as possible;
- Drive, bus, cycle and walk around the area to experience it from different entry points and through the eyes of all types of potential customer. Understand the traffic flow, how the area works and any variations that might emerge during different days of the week, and different times of the day;
- Check with local authorities in the area for possible work and development projects on the horizon that could have an impact – positive or negative – on the local environment.
Be careful when exploring vacant locations
It is natural that you will find vacant sites and receive calls from brokers offering you available locations that they may have on their books. To secure the profitability of your business, tread carefully. It is worth asking yourself why these pitches are available and whether they have sat vacant for some time. A space with a rent that seems low will be hard to refuse, but what is cheap is often cheap for a reason. Be realistic and remember the best sites are often worth paying for and rarely become available.
- Start by figuring out where you would ideally like to establish yourself and your new business. Visit these places in person and visualise yourself as a customer, to imagine how your brand would operate there. Sometimes these visits will give you a new perspective and help you evaluate the true potential of your business within that particular location;
- Introduce yourself to existing tenants in the area and set up a meeting with them to discuss passing traffic and footfall. Analyse which days and times have the strongest flows, look at the type of clientele they attract, talk about rental conditions and other challenges they might face. Some will be happy to share what they know, offer useful pointers and may even recommend other tenants they know, who might want to vacate or sell their premises.
Be methodical and take time to evaluate the sites you visit
At some points and when we are in active research, we risk being quicly exceeded by second-rate opportunites or missed some that do not necessarly appear interesting at first sight. For avoiding this, the creation and use of suitable tools to compare and present opportunities to your future franchisor, are some key learnings that our consultants share here. You should :
- Identify areas of strong retail attraction and make time to understand how the retail environment around it is configured. There are many free or paid tools available today, public or private, to help you complete this crucial step in searching;
- Ask the franchisor their opinion on where they consider to be a good area for your business. Comparing perspectives from as many sources as possible is a great way to advance your research and cover all the bases;
- Assess the potential of your area by looking at the target catchment area. A city’s size, population and consumer purchasing habits are useful points to consider, but you must dive even deeper with your analysis. Evaluate the attractiveness of your area using all available criteria, including tools like isochronal maps. Look at accessibility considerations and the visibility of your site for passing trade that you feel will be attracted to your franchise. There is nothing worse than paying rent for a location that is invisible or attracts the wrong clientele;
- Be clear about rental values in the area. Find out about the latest property transactions and the value of current leases around you. Understanding this will enable you to be in a strong position to negotiate and to seize an opportunity when it presents itself;
- During location visits, take photos and videos to share with your franchisor in order to highlight all the relevant aspects you can identify. This will help them ensure that you can meet the contractual obligations you need to meet in order to develop your chosen premises;
- Throughout your research, record everything and create a full detailed report of your findings. This will help you share crucial information with the franchisor, to help them constructively critique and validate your chosen location.
Once you have found the right opportunity, be ready to secure your location
When an opportunity presents itself, be ready to take it!
- Secure the location with conditions precedent;
- Give yourself time to check all the elements presented to you by the incumbent tenant or the landlords. Find yourself a lawyer to help you with the lease agreement. Identify the local contractors you want to work with to develop your chosen location and get them to help you evaluate any construction work that needs to be done, according to the franchisor guidelines. Having this information ready will enable you to obtain franchisor approval and eventually finalise discussions on your lease agreement;
- Once you have covered all of those bases, now it is time to design and plan the construction phase (usually done with the franchisor’s support) and prepare for your grand opening. With your business plan in place and agreed by your partner brand, you can begin to recruit your ideal team and begin to follow your plan. Once your business is up and running, always stay alert and pay attention to developments in your area. Keeping a close eye on things and talking regularly to other retailers in the area will help you identify future growth opportunities.
At FRANCHISEBIZ, we have over 40 years’ experience and we love to help franchisors plan for success. If you need more advice and ideas on how to source locations or just want to bounce ideas off an experienced franchise expert, then we are always open to a chat.
Get in touch here with our friendly team today to see how we can help !