Whenever I see new business construction close to my house, I get excited. What are they building? I have a perpetual short list of what I hope it will be. Is it a day spa? A bookstore? A lunch place that features non-fried salads?
Of course, I don’t get to choose, mostly because I’m not putting up the money and I’m guessing it takes a heap of money to start a business these days. Money and smart placement. When you look for a house for your family, you just need your family, the mail carrier and the pizza dude to find you. If you’re looking for a home for your business, you need a whole lot more.
I had to go pick up a package at the FedEx hub last week and it took every inch of my GPS to find the place, but then, they don’t need people to find them. Their whole business is bringing things to you.
Most businesses rely on you seeing them and, not only that, being able to maneuver your car to the parking lot. That’s where location gets sticky. Maybe you’re off the main road. Maybe the lettering on your sign is too small. Or maybe the path to your parking lot involves a left turn.
Left turns are a hurdle to a retail destination. They require crossing oncoming traffic, which requires timing and patience, which some people have in short supply. It takes a full 3 cents difference in gas prices to make my husband, Harold, visit a station on the left. That’s just how he rolls.
Now, if you’re commuting back and forth each day, everything is on the right side of the road eventually. A smart business owner would make sure that his coffee and doughnut place was on the majority-morning-commute right and his dry cleaner or drive-thru chicken place was on the right on the rush hour return.
Left turns are problematic, but not as bad as the dreaded U-turn. I don’t think Harold would do a U-turn even for 5 cents difference in gas prices.
Some places you have to go, no matter where they’re located. There’s nothing more convoluted than the parking deck at a hospital, but when your leg is broken, you go. Afterward, however, you will have to visit a drugstore, a business that pretty much insists on locating on a corner. Everyone wants a corner, really.
Want to make a million dollars? Create more corners.
Here’s another guaranteed moneymaker: Group all afterschool activities in one locale – dance, gymnastics, intermural paint ball. Arrange the studios in a circle around a park equipped for younger brothers and sisters and a coffee place with free Wi-Fi for Mom. Rim the area with parking and provide shuttle buses to move people to and fro. Again, I’m not putting up the money, but it sounds like a winner to me.
You must think like your target audience. Don’t put your cupcake bakery next to a fitness center unless you feature a cupcake that is high protein, gluten free and rich in antioxidants, or at least print those words on the bag so a weary Pilates patron could clandestinely carry a few red velvet morsels through the parking lot.
Or you could always build your cupcake place close to me. Throw in a massage therapist, a shelf of thumping good reads and a meatless salad with no onions and no croutons and I’d be there every day. Even if it involved a left turn. I just couldn’t bring Harold.