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By James Campbell

New Franchising Manager, Winkworth

OTHER FEATURES

Franchising: why finding your premises could be the biggest obstacle

The road to opening up your own business can be a long one. If you’ve never done it before, there are so many things to think about and plan, and knowing the timescales for every stage of the process is key to ensuring a smooth opening.

From my own experience in helping new franchisees to start up their businesses, one element that’s often harder than initially expected is finding great premises.

For us, the premises are so important, as a survey we conducted last year revealed that the main way people come into contact with our brand is via our offices. Taking in mind the location, cost and space, many people don’t realise how much time it can take to find premises that are right for your business and your area.

Once you’ve found and secured your new office location, there is then the task of creating an internal space that suits your needs, so it really is something to which a lot of time needs to be allocated.

For many people that we’ve worked with at Winkworth, this part of the process has slowed their ability to open up as quickly as they would have liked, and inevitably extends the time it takes for them to start turning a profit.

In fact, we’ve been working with one potential franchisee for around 18 months to try and find the right location for their new office. They have now employed the services of a retail agent, but this is just another thing to add to their start-up costs, so not always an option.

I can’t stress enough the importance of starting your search for the right premises as soon as possible. Whether you’re thinking of opening a franchise or going it alone, begin your search for locations as soon as your idea to open your own business starts to turn into an actual plan. This will get the ball rolling early on in the process and hopefully save time further down the line.

When you do start your search, don’t forget the importance of location first and foremost. As a high street agency, we need our offices to be seen by as many people as possible, to get maximum exposure for the properties we advertise in our windows as well as maximum brand awareness – so in our experience location of the office is vitally important in ensuring growth of your business.

Whether your premises are on your local high street, at a retail park, a shopping centre or somewhere else, the location of your new office should be at the top of your list of priorities.

Having a central location will also help place your new business at the centre of the community, which will bring brand awareness in itself as you gradually start to get more involved with local initiatives.

It is then important to pay attention to structural issues, layout and IT infrastructure. What is already in place and how will this work for you as an estate agency? How much work will need to be done before you open to create the space that you need? And for any changes that you do need to make to the premises, how easy will they be, how much will they cost and how much time are they likely to take?

Evidently there is a lot to think about just in terms of finding the right premises, so getting a head start will save you a lot of time and stress in what can be an already rather complicated process.

One of our franchisees who joined us last year was very proactive and had already found their new office before even having met with us. This made the entire process a lot easier and more fluid and he was able to get his business up and running and trading a lot quicker than average.

Of course, if you join a franchise there is often a certain amount of help that will be given by the franchisor to search for premises.

There is also the option of employing the services of a retail agent, as has been done by one of our potential franchisees, and this could be very beneficial as they will have the experience and contacts needed to find the right location quickly and effectively. However, this comes at a cost which, I’m sure, most new business owners would rather avoid.

I have seen the frustration and felt it myself, when a promising business owner is held back from their plans because they can’t find the right premises. I won’t lie and say it’s an easy process, so be savvy and start your search early – wasting time will only lead to your time being wasted later on.

*James Campbell is New Franchising Manager at Winkworth

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