Thinking about becoming a franchisee? Excited about the opportunities out there but overwhelmed with what you need to know? We’re here to help: The Franchise Blog is presenting a series of informational posts about how franchising works. In the coming months, we’ll share valuable information from Great Clips franchise professionals and other franchising experts.
A great location for your new franchise depends on what kind of business you’re going to operate, but there are some general guidelines to consider, especially in retail.
Identifying the best location starts with understanding your customers: Who are they and what drives them to your business? Are they arriving at your store on impulse or are they intentional shoppers? If you can address some of your customers’ needs and wants simply by putting your business in the right place, you’ll have a great start to a successful business.
According to the article, Location Isn’t Everything (Inc.com), a good retail location generally has three key characteristics: good neighbors, visibility and access.
Inc.com: “Good neighbors are different for every product and concept. Consider when and how people use your product or service and choose your neighbors accordingly.”
In a previous post on this site, I explained what’s considered a good neighbor for a Great Clips salon: A walk-in salon depends on the foot traffic generated by neighboring retail businesses—typically those in a strip mall anchored by a grocery store or another retailer that draws regular traffic—to attract customers. Many Great Clips customers visit us as part of their errand path. They plan their shopping outing so they can get groceries, pick up dry cleaning and get a hair cut, all in one trip. Other customers are “drive bys.” They’re heading to Target, Walmart, Publix or Kroger and they see our signage and make a spontaneous decision to get a haircut.
Inc.com: “If people can't see your sign [from the main flow of traffic], you'll be hard to find. This is the part of location selection that most people think of first, but there's so much more to choosing a good site.”
For Great Clips, visibility is typically important because of the way our customers use our services. Traditionally your storefront should be easy to see either from the street or from the parking lot relative to the front door of the main anchor store. But there’s a new kind of visibility that comes with location-based apps and mobile sites on smartphones. As more and more customers use technology to find a business, the traditional definition of visibility may need to be revised.
Inc.com: “Access is important, because as one customer of a convenience store said in an interview, ‘I like coming here for coffee because I can just swoop in and swoop out.’ Swoop just says it all.”
Since many Great Clips customers are trying to complete two or more errands on one trip, access to the retail location is important. If they can’t “swoop” in, they might go someplace else.
There are a lot of resources new franchisees can refer to when considering their first location, but perhaps none more valuable than this: their franchisor. Good franchise organizations have long-term relationships with experienced commercial real estate brokers and developers, and they know the best-established and new retail sites in their markets.
What can franchisees do to take advantage of this expertise? Talk to the franchisor’s real estate support team. The final decision ultimately rests with the franchisee, but you can limit your risk if you get the advice of inside experts...and then follow it.