Retail Franchise Industry Report
Site Selection for Retail Franchises: Location, Location, Location
The success of a retail franchise is dependent upon many different factors, including the business concept, service, and economics of an area. However, for franchises with a physical presence location is near, if not at the top of, the list of factors that have the most impact on a business’ success. If the franchised business is in a neighborhood where the demographic doesn’t have demand for the product, or access to the franchise is poor, the probably of sustaining success will be difficult.
A great location also does more than simply serve as a home base for the franchise. “Visibility represents 90 percent of the site’s marketing to potential customers,” Richard Leveille, executive VP of franchise development for Smoothie King, says. A great location “gets people to try out products. People make decisions based on convenience, not just about price.”
In the hunt for the right location for your retail franchise, the franchisor will be an invaluable resource because of their experiences with other franchisees and natural knowledge of what their concept needs to thrive. Oftentimes, the franchisor will delineate a territory in which your franchise must be located along with certain guidelines. Some franchisors also provide additional assistance with site selection. In most cases, the franchisor will have the right to approve the site you have selected before moving forward with the franchise opening process. Some factors to consider when researching locations include:
- Visual Look of the Area: Does the area’s image match up with the brand image of the franchise?
- Nearby Businesses: While in some industries having a similar franchise nearby would be a disadvantage, sometimes in retail having complementary franchises operating nearby can be advantageous because it increases the pool of potential consumers for your franchise.
- Building Condition: Unless you’re building from the ground up, the building will need a measure of work before it can be opened to the public. How much work a building (and building site) needs and how much that work will cost has to be factored in.
- Operating Costs: Sometimes compromise will be necessary to find a location that suits not only the franchise system, but also the monetary capabilities of the franchisee. Keep tax rates, rent/mortgage, and other utility costs in mind.
- Traffic Patterns: At first glance a location may seem perfect, but further investigation can reveal flaws like lack of parking, poor vehicular access, or difficulty for pedestrians to get to. Another consideration is how much traffic (vehicle and pedestrian) is in the area at certain times of the day.
- Zoning: Can your retail franchise be run from the property you’re considering? Local planning agencies are a great resource to check for locations in which retail establishments are legal.
Finding the right location used to be about looking at maps, personally scouting places, and relying on instinct and knowledge of an area. While these actions still play an integral role, database management and analytics are taking some legwork out of the site search, while making it more efficient. One of the companies that provide these information services is Buxton.
Founded in 1994, Buxton compiles a consumer database of over 75,000 insights, including brand loyalties, media preferences, and purchasing behavior – in addition to typical demographics. Using their analysis tools, clients of Buxton can analyze potential locations to gain a deeper understanding of who the patrons are around possible business sites and what they like in terms of commerce.