Is My Business Suffering Because Of It’s Location?
Finding the perfect location to base your business from isn’t easy. Sometimes there’s a lack of local available space and you have to settle for what is left. In other cases, you may be constrained by a tight budget, giving you limited options.
Often, business owners can end up choosing a bad location, which can end up being bad for business. When this happens, you need to weigh up your options – do you relocate or do you take extra measures to make the best of your location? This guide can help you to take the right steps.
Signs of a bad business location
There are many factors that can make a business location poorly-suited. Some of these include:
How easy is it for people to get to your business premises? If there are no public transport links and people have to drive to the middle of nowhere, you could find that you struggle to generate business. Employees are also unlikely to enjoy the commute.
A lack of local parking could also be a nuisance for people arriving by car. While many urban areas are easily accessible via public transport and may even be in walking distance of a lot of people, there may still be a need to accommodate for drivers (especially if people need to pick things up or deliver things via vehicle).
Too much local competition
If there are lots of similar businesses in the area that are more established than you are, you could find it hard to compete for customers. Unless you’re able to rev up your marketing and find a USP, you could find that many customers choose the more established businesses over you.
No local demand
A lack of local demand could also be an issue for some businesses. Unless your business is niche enough that people are willing to travel far and wide – or you’re able to deliver to customers far and wide – you need to be sure that there’s a local market willing to buy into your product/service. Many niche shops can struggle to achieve footfall if there’s no local demand, while a hotel in a location that is seldom travelled to by outsiders may struggle to generate guests.
A non-credible address
Even if your business operates entirely online, you may still need to give out your address to clients and suppliers for mailing purposes. An address in the wrong area could put off certain customers – it could be a give away that you’re a small home business and not a prestigious company in a prestigious area.
A high crime rate
Your business needs to feel secure – if businesses in the area are popular targets for burglars, it may be a sign that it’s a bad area. You also need to be sure that employees feel safe walking into work or parking their car, as well as customers.
High running costs
Often, the areas with the best access, highest customer demand and most prestigious address are the most expensive to rent/buy in. If you’re not taking in enough money, you could find that you’re unable to keep up with payments.
Should you relocate?
If you can identify with most (or all) of the signs above, relocating to new premises might not seem like a bad idea. It’s worth definitely doing your research and seeing what’s out there – if you can find a cheaper, more secure, more accessible location, it could be worth going for it.
Relocating could be a problem if you’ve still got most of your lease to pay off. Some landlords may want you to pay off the remainder of your lease in exchange for leaving early, which may not be feasible. Make sure that you understand the consequences of getting out of a lease early.
You also need to factor in the cost of moving. On top of moving all your equipment and redecorating, you may have to consider altering your address on all forms of advertising.
The move needs to benefit your employees. Make sure that they’re not having to commute longer distances and that parking is available if necessary.
You also need to consider any current customers you may have. Moving location could mean accessing more customers, but you could lose old loyal customers if you’re moving a long distance (especially when it comes to relocating restaurants, bars and convenience shops).
What are your other options?
Relocating may not always be the only option. You may be able to compensate for your bad location by taking extra steps or making changes. Below are a few examples:
Improve your marketing
Businesses in bad locations often have to market more heavily to generate customers. It could also be a case of altering your marketing strategy so that you cater to certain people.
For instance, if you’re not getting the footfall from people passing by because you’re not in a busy location, you may have to rely more heavily on online marketing to get people through the door. Investing in local SEO and making sure you appear on Google Maps could help to attract people researching for your type of business online.
If it’s a case of standing out amongst lots of local competition, you may have to work out a USP that sets you apart. There may be unique products or unique deals that you can offer. Visually, you may also be able to stand out with salient signage or an eye-catching window display.
Allow employees to work from home
If your location is difficult for certain employees to access or offers no secure parking, consider whether employees are able to work from home. By using the cloud and instant-messaging to keep contact, you can keep employees working without them having to commute. There may not even be a need to work from your current premises anymore – you and your entire workforce could consider working from home.
Conduct meetings elsewhere/virtually
If your current location isn’t suitable for inviting clients for meetings, consider whether you can meet clients in rented office space or in coffee bars instead. This could allow you to maintain your current location without the need to invite clients there. You could even consider hosting meetings via videoconference.
Outsource a virtual mailing address
If you’re worried that your address affects your company’s professional image, you could consider renting a virtual address. This is an address in which all your mail can be sent to before being redirected to your actual address. You can use your virtual address on your website and on other forms of advertising instead of your real address. Such virtual addresses tend to be based in prestigious locations – rather than letting customers know that you work from home in a village, you can give them the impression that you’ve got a headquarters in a commercial hub in the city centre.
Invest in high security
If your current location has a high crime rate and you don’t want to relocate, investing in the best security you can buy is the next best option. Burglars and vandals tend to only target buildings with visible weaknesses. By investing in greater security measures than other buildings in the areas (such as security cameras, security lighting, security shutters etc.) burglars will simply move onto an easier target. You can find tips on securing your business premises here.
Find other ways to cut costs
If your current location is expensive, consider whether there are ways of cutting back on other costs so that you can take in more profit. A financial advisor may be able to help you cut costs in other areas without reducing your overall revenue. Expensive locations tend to come with perks that other locations don’t have – unless you’re paying ridiculously high rates, it could be beneficial to stay put.