Choosing a home for your business If your business has outgrown your spare room or the nature of your work means you need to acquire bigger space, choosing business premises can be very exciting. When choosing a home you might let your heart rule your head and opt for ‘a project’, or be willing to compromise on some things. When it comes to your business, allow your head the freedom to speak.
There is a never a bad time to do a marketing analysis of the business and having an up-to-date idea before you go looking for property is no bad thing. Consider who is your customer and what is your target market.
A DIY retailer selling paint and heavy power tools will always struggle to break even from a high street location where there is no parking outside. The ‘trade’ customers will not park their vans elsewhere and walk, nor will they carry heavy goods. They’ll shop with a competitor where they can park outside. Similarly, a grocer will find business hard away from the high street location where they rely on pedestrian trade. Very few, if any, grocers will opt for and out of town business park location. More often than not companies taking space on business parks are using the space for offices, rather than having a customer-facing element. Even so, your company image is important and customers will visit your premises and will drive past. People cannot help but judge by appearances, they’re only human, so make sure your premises accurately reflect your business.
It might not be as simple as deciding on high street or out of town business park. You might need to think about the town, too. People make associations about places, such as parts of east London being very run down, but leafy Oxfordshire being very well to do, so having offices in Oxford might be seen as a positive if your company sells to ABC1 customers. Your address might make all the difference.
The Gov.uk site (formerly Business Link) has some useful information about choosing your business premises.
It might not be practical, but meeting potential landlords can be a useful exercise. You can gauge their attitude Even if you don’t meet in person you can tell a lot about them by looking around the park. A landlord whose property is in landscaped surroundings clearly cares about image and how the businesses are portrayed. They might be more proactive in marketing the park as a whole. Is there scope to acquire more space? Many office blocks these days have flexibility space from a modular build meaning it’s relatively easy for offices to grow with the company. Space outside is also important. Is there adequate parking available for your staff, visitors and customers? If not, is there anything nearby? Access is also very important, especially if customers come to you.
Have realistic expectations about rent, when you’ll be expected to pay, and when increases are reasonable. Be prepared to haggle. As you would if you were buying a home, negotiate. It might be a rent free period to start with or a reduced rent overall. The important thing is to ask – you won’t know unless you try.
Image credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremylevinedesign/3197502527/