Opening any business requires a great deal of preparation; but if you want to open a brick-and-mortar establishment, you have an extra set of concerns that online firms do not. Between real estate, overhead costs and premises liability issues, you have much to do.
As always, consult professionals when it comes to complicated issues, legal matters or large sums of money. Investments and commercial real estate law can be complex. Take these five steps when opening your physical storefront:
1. Choose Your Location
Naturally, you want to be as close to your clientele as possible. A good location can help you attract new customers and retain existing ones. Think about other practical issues, too, such as parking, building upkeep and landscaping. Keep growth in mind and try to find a building that will serve your needs for years or decades to come. Moving is a pain, and not all your customers will follow you.
2. Design the Shopping Experience
Shopping in person is a much different experience than selecting products virtually. Highlight these differences to encourage walk-ins. Consumers in the store can speak to customer service staff directly, ask questions, seek alternative items and request product demonstrations. Set the tone of your business with décor, music choices and curb appeal.
3. Calculate Your Costs
Purchase price or leasing costs are a primary consideration, but other costs can affect your bottom line almost as much. One-time expenses may include fixtures, permits and signage. Your insurance company may insist on installation of a security system.
Recurring costs can add up quickly. Overhead costs include power, garbage collection, taxes and insurance. Employees can cost twice as much as their actual wages. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also have inventory to maintain.
4. Incorporate Online Shopping
Not all customers like to come in and browse. Even when you have a physical location, many customers will find you online. The more channels you have for taking orders, the more merchandise you can move. Prepare to ship online orders, deliver goods to cars outside your store, and have bags ready for pickup at the front counter.
5. Become a Part of the Community
As a corporate resident, you become an integral part of the neighborhood. When you participate in community functions and support local charities, you give your customers a chance to be part of something special.
New business ventures always come with a degree of risk, but help is available. If you are confused about where to start, consult your local Small Business Administration. They offer seminars, classes and individual advice; many services are free.