Site Loader

Finding retail space and location for your business can be a daunting task and is typically one of the biggest operating expenses for a small business. It takes careful planning, consideration, and budgeting to find a place that meets your needs and doesn’t take too large a bite out of your budget. There are many different elements to take into consideration, including location, size and various amenities.

A few factors to consider when choosing a retail location that you don’t want to forget about:

  • How your space can meet your customer’s need. What does your target buyer look like? What do they do? Where do they live, work and play? You need a space that is easy to see–stands out from the others, and has easy access.
  • Freedom to set your own rules. Get familiar with the local laws, zoning ordinances, and rules that might inhibit you on everything from signage to your ability to hold special events during certain hours
  • Exposure that will save you advertising dollars. Best advantage to a great location is to fund internal rewards and referral programs. Every person who enters your store on the basis of location becomes a potential long-term member of your target audience.

Below are the steps you should take to find the perfect retail space for you and your business.

1. Determine the Type of Space You Need

Before you contact a commercial real estate broker or even begin searching on your own, you want to have a clear idea of what type of space you want. Besides the specific needs of your business that might include a checkout station, dressing rooms or even a kitchen, here are some other factors to take into consideration:

  1. Location: The neighborhood you choose can be key to your business’ success.
  2. Traffic: Besides traffic patterns, you’ll also want to analyze foot traffic and ease of access to your location.
  3. Size: Make sure you know how much space you need. Take into account your current and future needs so that you can grow within the space.
  4. Budget: Have a good idea of what you can afford, and make sure that the type of space you want fits within that budget.
  5. Utilities: Depending on your type of business, a lease that includes your water or electricity bill could tip the balance when all other factors are equal.
  6. Amenities: Review what type of special options you might want to consider, including building amenities like security, fire prevention and parking.

2. Find a Commercial Real Estate Broker

You can search on your own, but real estate brokers often have access to listings that you don’t. Plus, they’re typically very qualified negotiators with a track record of negotiating rental agreements and lease terms with landlords that are very beneficial to the renter.

To find a commercial real estate broker, you can ask local business owners for recommendations. You can also search the National Association of Realtors or your state’s realtor association for agents that specialize in commercial real estate. Other commercial sites like CityFeet and CIMLS also offer listings and local broker directories.

3. Search on Your Own

You can conduct your own online search using LoopNet, which is free to the public, but other sites like MLS and CoStar are only open to commercial real estate brokers, which is another reason to work with one.

Another option is to go out in your local area and search for any posted signs for available spaces. You can call and speak with the landlord or agent directly to find out more information. However, it’s recommended that you work with a broker or attorney when negotiating the lease, unless you are an outstanding negotiator and have experience closing deals.

4. Scout the Space

Once your real estate agent has delivered a list of possibilities, make sure you tour each of the spaces, keeping a careful eye on the amenities you’re looking for. In reality, looking for a commercial space is really not that different from looking for a residential one. You want to be sure you’re in a good neighborhood with easy access to the area, curb appeal and good traffic patterns, and this all needs to fit within your budget. You also want to be sure the space is the right size and fit for your business.

5. Negotiate the Terms of the Lease and Special Features

When it comes time to sign on the dotted line, make sure that you’ve negotiated the best possible rate for your space. One way to ensure this is to work with an attorney who specializes in commercial real estate, can review the lease for any potential pitfalls and make sure that you are protected when the lease comes to a close. To find a real estate attorney, you can ask other local business owners for a recommendation, or you can ask your real estate broker for a referral if you have a good relationship with him or her.

Your retail space will be the visual representation of your business and is therefore a very important piece to your success. By working closely with a professional real estate broker—one that can develop a list of features and amenities you need and negotiate the best possible lease—you can move into a space that’ll work for both you and your company for years to come.

Post Author: Lorrie Toillion, CFP®

Accounting Specialist, Tax Assistant, and Client On-Boarding Associate.