Finding the perfect location for your franchise is an important part of its success. If your business doesn’t rely on a lot of foot or vehicle traffic, then you’re probably better off looking for the least costly site or even running it out of your home.
On the other hand, if your business does rely on a steady supply of foot or vehicle traffic like a restaurant or retail outlet, you’ll need to do a bit of research to find the optimal spot to set up shop.
Types of Franchise Sites
While searching for the perfect site, these are some of the potential areas you’ll likely become familiar with.
Large and usually enclosed, these shopping centres are anchored by a few big stores and usually contain a variety of businesses aside from just retail shops. Some have cinemas and bowling alleys or other entertainment offerings in them. Malls are specifically built to draw foot traffic and the good ones will do just that. However, the heavy foot traffic a mall can provide does come with a price, namely high rent and so-called common fees that are used to take care of common areas of the mall. You may also be required to pay association dues for mall businesses and contribute to advertising for the entire mall complex and other expenses.
These are any area where a congregation of businesses can be found, like a downtown core. Typically, it will have office buildings, so a lot of the business is generated from office workers. In some cities, these shopping areas are also tourist spots and bring in outside residents by offering entertainment. These shopping areas can be expensive places to get established and can often lack sufficient parking. If the primary source of foot traffic comes from office workers, these areas may not be busy on the weekends, unless there are entertainment options to draw people in during the weekend.
Akin to “driving malls” these are areas with a large number of retailers and restaurants all “connected” by a shared parking lot. The stores might be physically connected, but they all have their own entrances. Some neighbourhood centres have unattached stores and restaurants. The centres will usually have one or two large anchor retailers and many smaller ones. They draw their foot and vehicle traffic from the local neighbourhood and adjacent neighbourhoods that may not have the same services available. Some larger regional centres may have signage or other restrictions, but most neighbourhood centres allow a good amount of freedom for business owners. You may be able to put your franchise location inside one of the anchor stores, like a coffee shop within a supermarket or a fast food restaurant inside a large retail store.
These are similar to neighbourhood centres, but on a smaller scale. They don’t have a large anchor store to them. Generally, they’ll just be a handful of smaller businesses in a connected building where all the businesses have their own entrance.
Mass Gathering Locations
These sites attract large crowds and provide business owners with a captive audience for a period of time. They include stadiums, arenas, airports, university campuses, convention centres, various parks, military bases, office and industrial complexes and sometimes hospitals.
How to Find the Ideal Franchise Location
Most franchisors will help you look for a location or at least provide you with the criteria you need to consider when looking for a location. Some franchisors employ special software to figure out where the best locations for franchises would be.
Often, franchisors will also have a real estate broker they work with to help franchisees find locations. Even if they don’t have a preferred broker to work with, you should talk to one yourself to help you find a location. They can offer invaluable insight into what spots are available or soon-to-be available.
In addition to a real estate broker, you can talk with your local chamber of commerce, city engineers, your local police department and your local transportation department to find out stats like demographics, traffic counts, pedestrian traffic, areas that are undergoing development and other pertinent information.
You may want to get in on an area that is due for a facelift. To find out what areas are going to be going through development in the near future, talk to city hall, real estate brokers and developers and the zoning and planning boards in your city.
Procure a list of your franchise’s locations that are either open or under development in your area and also find out where the competition is operating. Plot these points on a map and you’ll see where the openings are. Check out what types of franchise locations (ie traditional, non-traditional, mobile) within your system are prospering and see if you can pinpoint where you could put a location similar to those within your area. If the non-traditional locations area doing especially well, for example, perhaps there is a mass gathering spot in your area where you could put a non-traditional location.
Drive through the areas you are considering to see if the customers you are targeting are in those areas. For example, if your business targets children, there should be schools and playgrounds in the area. Spend some time just sitting and observing the areas around any locations you are thinking about going into. Are there other types of businesses in the area that serve the same type of customer you’ll be targeting? Chat with some other business owners in the area about their clientele.
Finding the right location takes a lot of legwork. When you’re evaluating sites, plan on visiting them multiple times on different days of the week and during different times of the day so you can get a more accurate picture of the traffic going to them.
If you feel like you just can’t find the right spot, talk to your franchisor and see what else they can do for you. You could ask to switch your market area or you might be able to get an extension on the amount of time afforded to you for finding a location.
By putting in the requisite work, you can find the perfect location for your franchise business. But, before you find the perfect site, you have to find the perfect franchise. Sign up for a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today and let us help you find your perfect franchising match.