Why do some locations do so well? Is it the operator’s technical skill, the product, the level of service, just pure luck, or is there truth in the real estate mantra, “Location. Location. Location.”?
There are two key factors directly connected to your physical location and building that can account for up to 40% of your annual volume! Imagine increasing your top line by 40%, up or down, just by changing location. Your lease needs to have the correct provisions to ensure you can exercise some control over the Profile and Access of your location. Clearly, these factors are worth a little exploration.
Profile refers to the image and branding statement that your location projects. Your site communicates your image 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. A savvy operator constantly strives to develop and improve their location profile to influence potential, and retain existing, customers and employees. Factors including location within the building and within the overall development, signage, lighting, windows, and exterior paint all must be considered during the site selection and lease negotiation process.
Access refers to the convenience with which a customer can reach your location. Access must reflect the needs and habits of your existing and potential customers throughout the entire time your location will operate. Easy access will lead to sales growth. Customers will settle for a second choice simply because it is easier or faster to get to. For example, if you have access to free and ample parking, a customer will travel farther to visit you over a competitor that is closer but has no parking.
Key Profile and Access Points to consider during your site selection and lease negotiation.
Location. Look for significant activity by customers and potential customers when selecting a location. Consider recreational, business, shopping or cultural activity centers.
Adequate signage. To capture the attention of potential customers, use the maximum permissible signage. Consider uncommon sign types such as neon tubing, canopies, channel lettering or front-lit painted exterior building walls. Identify sight lines where your sign(s) will be visible from all angles and approaches whether by car, public transit or on foot.
Lighting. Bright interiors are associated with clean, healthy, safe, happy, high quality facilities. Avoid tinted glass windows as they will make the operation look closed after dark, even with lights on inside. Exterior spotlights and paint schemes can be used to illuminate the exterior of the building, creating a sign-like effect on the building itself. Laser projectors offer a tremendous opportunity for tenants with large, highly visible, exterior walls. Install fluorescent tube or pot lighting under the overhang above the front door to illuminate the walk and the store front.
Proximity to existing activity centers. Choose a location close to areas where potential customers are already active and ready to use your services. Consider the residential population, age structure and buying habits in the area immediately surrounding your location. Consider locating adjacent to large high schools, sports facilities or regional shopping centers.
Adequate free parking. Customers will leave your business if they are not able to park with ease, close to your door, at no charge.
Access to public transit. Choose a central location in your trade area with easy access from major transportation arteries including public roads, public transit, and pedestrian corridors.
Proximity to major traffic arteries. Choose a location near major highway intersections to draw customers from areas not immediately adjacent to your business.
Hours of operation. Avoid locating in a building with hours set by the landlord. These buildings may prevent you from being open on evenings and weekends to accommodate your patients.
Elevator access. Accessibility in your facility sends a message to your employees and patients. Elevator access is key if your location is on an upper floor. You will lose customers who are unable to easily navigate stairs.
Adequate space to receive your customers. Reception is a great opportunity to make customers feel welcome and appreciated! Waiting areas should be large enough to accommodate a customer’s family member(s) or friends.
Access to facilities. Choose a location with convenient access to other shops and services, such as in a large enclosed mall or an office complex. This association facilitates one-stop shopping.
Your Lease. The correct language in your lease will enable you to install and use lighting, ensure that the landlord can't move your location in the building or interfere with the reasons you chose this location in the first place. It will enable you to install the signage and paint schemes you want to ensure the success of your operation. Make sure your lease protects these critical Profile and Access criteria when you select a new site and negotiate the lease. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to correct an existing lease that fails to address one or more of the above key points.
Location. Location. Location!