Finding the right premises
Location will determine a lot when it comes to what kind of shop you’re running, and how successful it will be.
Neil Thompson is an account manager at Business Link, providing start-up advice to individuals. He says the product or service that you are selling will determine where you have to be positioned geographically. “If you have a unique product then your location isn’t so critical, it’s more about making people aware that you exist. For example, if you’re selling a unique piece of jewellery, customers will come to you. But if your shop is selling a tin of beans and they’re available on every street then you’ll need to have people passing your store all day.”
Thompson says access to good quality retail units is very difficult, as there’s a lack of decent premises and they’re simply not being built. When Burden was looking for a location for My Small World, she spent a long time looking for, and researching, the right spot.
“Even when we found this shop we weren’t really sure,” she says. “We spent a long time just sitting in the shop and looking at how many people were passing. We bought a lot of market research reports which weren’t cheap but were worth it. They gave me an idea of what footfall I should be expecting so I could judge what premises would be too expensive.”
Teresa Andrew had already made up her mind that her butchers in Bourne had to be located near her brother who owned the local slaughter house so she could trust her supplier. “I started off looking at the classifieds and then realised there were business transfer agents that specialised in selling businesses. I contacted them, and probably looked at about 20 businesses within about a 40 mile radius.
“The population of Bourne is only about 12,000 but my shop is in a precinct between a car park and the main shopping high street so we get about 5,000 people a week walking past the store.”
Thompson says it’s always a good idea to just camp outside a premises and do your own footfall research before committing to a location. He suggests recording footfall over varying days over a four-week period.
Thompson says that one of the most important pieces of advice he gives his clients is to try and negotiate a 12-month lease with the landlord. “Within a year you can usually gauge whether or not it’s going to be a valuable business. If your lease is longer than 12 months then you could be liable to pay rent for several years – and if the business doesn’t work out then that can be a very expensive situation.