The all important bricks and mortar
Choosing the venue for your new bar, restaurant, cafe or shop is no easy task, particularly if you’re just starting out in a new trade. It’s an exciting time, but it’s hard to know what to look for in terms of bricks and mortar, and it’s important to put the practical features first before falling in love with a location. So how do you know where to start?
We’ve been working on interior fit out projects for some time, and in that time, we’ve learned a thing or two about the common pitfalls our clients fall into when choosing a location for their new business. So in our latest article below, we’ve shared some of our insight to help you make sure the building you choose is perfect for your next venture.
Think about property type
First off, whilst you’re looking at what’s available, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of modern vs traditional buildings. Modern builds will likely be more energy efficient saving you money on costs, but an older building can offer you more character and lend a lot to the curb appeal and design of your new business. However, older properties can prove more costly if detailed inspections are required to ensure the building is fit for use, especially in light of health and safety and planning requirements.
There are a lot of benefits in finding a commercial property that’s been used for a similar operation previously (e.g. a restaurant, bar or shop), as it’s likely that the necessary legal requirements were fulfilled by the previous owner. So, unless there’s been a change in the law, you might find that you can save yourself some time and money because there are no further modifications required.
Location, location, location
Location has a huge bearing on the positioning of your new business and if it’s an area you’re new to, you’ll need to work on getting a good understanding of the local clientele so that you can style your business - and pricing - to suit them. For example, do you need to create a space that’s child-friendly for young families? Are local people affluent, or ethically-minded and likely to want organic? Consider how you can gather market research and use that before making a final decision as it will help you understand whether your plan is commercially viable.
Within most towns and cities, you’ll be able to find options in areas that are already well-established and sought after, or the ‘up-and-coming’ locales nearby, where properties are likely to be cheaper. You’ll need to work harder to secure your customer base here, but the budget you’ve recouped on rent or business rates could be channelled into your online presence and marketing to generate more interest.
Our final watch-out is making sure there aren’t any big construction works in the area you’re considering, as noise, traffic and dust could put potential customers off. Likewise consider whether any neighbouring businesses might be off-putting to your customers too - for example, it wouldn’t do much good to open a vegan cafe next door to a butchers shop.
Mapping the competition
When looking at a new location, before making any final decisions you’ll need a good understanding of the competition in the area. Is there anywhere with a similar proposition to you? Are they doing well, or what could they do better? How busy are they and is there room for another, or is the market saturated? What can you do differently to attract any loyal customers to you?
Having competition is not necessarily a bad thing and often across cities, turning your area into a destination for what you do can make the area more attractive, and be beneficial to all the businesses. But, you do need to understand the local market to operate in it, so visit your competition, find out what they have to offer and use your market research to inform any decisions you make.
Choosing the right space
We’d always recommend securing your property before getting too far ahead with your design, but that said, there are a number of questions you can work through to start building a vision of your business space so that when you come to doing viewings, you have an idea in mind of what will work.
For example, you’ll want to consider how much space you’ll need - either intimate or spacious - and whether you want outdoor areas. You’ll also want to think about facilities like a kitchen, or staff area, plus toilets, and where you can keep stock. Travel routes and local parking are important too - the less effort for customers to get to you the better.
Finally, if you’re opening a bar, remember to think about the surrounding neighbours and how you’ll keep them onside. You may have rowdy customers leaving late from time to time and losing a licence can be disastrous.
Important steps before you sign
If your chosen venue hosted a similar business previously, do some digging and find out why they closed or moved on to make sure the odds aren’t stacked against you too. When you do finally find the right space for you and you’re planning to rent, make sure you get the landlord vetted too, and have professionals look over the lease agreement.
Particularly on older properties, it’s important to seek advice from professionals on the condition of the building, particularly the structure. If these aren’t considered before you begin your fit out, you could find you regret it further down the line when hidden costs come to light.
Lastly, think about your timeline. Finding the right building could take some time and will impact every other step which comes after, including your launch, so it’s important to have the right amount of time built in to account for this. There will be inevitable further setbacks along the way before your project starts to make money, but proper planning (including budgeting) will help you prepare for contingencies.
We hope this article has given you some food for thought before getting started on your next retail or restaurant / bar venture. Overall, we’d encourage you to have an open mind when choosing your property, with a focus on what you need to achieve to make your business a success.
If you’d like to know more about the steps to consider before starting a fit out, reach out to us on the contact details below.