Brad Fishman, CEO of FishmanPR, offers tips for site selection in international markets
Every business owner recognizes this simple truth: the greatest brand and concept in a poorly selected location is set up for failure. The same holds true when you expand internationally. Strategic site selection is the best way to set a new location up for success, whether it’s in a small Midwestern town or a bustling destination overseas. Here is what you should keep in mind as you conduct site selection in an international market:
Review your data
To determine the best site for your business, you must know why your customers visit. For example, if customers are largely coming in during their lunch breaks, you know you need to be close to a business district or industrial park. Gather and analyze your potential customers’ lifestyle data and see how it differs from your U.S. customers. Then, let this guide you as you develop a profile for your ideal site.
The same goes for traffic patterns, population density and local competitors
Do your research on how local people live, how they travel and where they spend their money – and make sure your data is up to date. Scour the Internet, talk to local brokers and check out real estate news to get a solid sense of commercial development in the area.
Franchisors and franchisees should work together closely during this stage to take full advantage of the franchisor’s connections and resources. More mature franchise systems should consider adopting a customized geo-analytics system to synthesize all your customer data and deliver predictions for where your concept would be the most successful. These systems can help reduce guesswork, improve future development plans and increase franchisees’ confidence.
Negotiate with confidence
Once you’ve crunched the numbers, it’s time to secure the best possible site. Get familiar with any local rules and regulations that you’ll have to navigate. These could deal with zoning, traffic circulation, store layout, storm water or landscaping. Don’t get caught unaware once you commit to a property.
Then, hit the pavement.
If there are existing tenants in your prospective sites, speak with them. If possible, drive by sites to confirm their visibility, accessibility and traffic flow. To inquire about a property, cut out any middlemen and call the leasing agent directly. You should first call the agent for your least desirable site, and then work your way up to your most desirable. That way, you’ll be more confident and better-informed when you’re discussing your best prospects. Have agents send information via email before you tour any properties, and avoid giving specifics about your budget or level of interest.
Lastly, don’t get impatient or be blinded by a “great deal.”
Give yourself at least six months to select a site so you don’t end up going with a subprime spot in your effort to stay on schedule. Remember – a great location is better than a low rent payment. If you have to wait a few months for an excellent site to turn over a tenant, so be it. Site selection can make or break a location, but don’t let this overwhelm you. With data-driven insights and a deliberate selection strategy, you can find use site selection to propel your business’s growth.
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