A property to match your SME: a how-to guide
Finding a property that’s perfect for your retail business is one of the greatest balancing acts you’ll have to face, especially if you’re an SME. Finances won’t match up with aspirations, locations won’t be as great as you first thought, and the nooks and crannies in a seemingly perfect shop floor will reveal a variety of, shall we say, quirks that you hadn’t initially noticed.
Choosing the right property is a dicey business, which could explain in part why a number of businesses choose not to, marginalising themselves on the internet instead of heading for the high street.
Since broadband began moving the web faster than a bullet train, businesses didn’t have to maintain a property to survive. Many more well established companies began to fold as people chose to stay at home instead of trekking to department stores. Big name brands like Blockbusters, Jessops and Zavvi were only a few of the high-profile casualties.
The climate created by these closures has understandably created a culture of risk aversion amongst SMEs. Business owners are unwilling to find a shop for sale and strike out into the physical world.
But, unless your site skyrockets into the stratosphere, your options will eventually become limited. No matter how successful your Twitter and Etsy accounts are, you’ll hit a glass ceiling if you don’t have a physical property to work from.
Some letting agencies sympathise more than others when it comes to helping a budding SME or startup company, and many might even exploit your lack of knowledge on the subject. Like jackals around a thirsty nomad in the desert, they’ll eat away at your profit margins just to see you sign on the dotted line of a lease agreement.
The right letting agency
Quite a few letting agencies are reputable in their dealings with first-time letters, like Shop Property, a letting agent that specialises in finding the right property for retail businesses. They’ve got plenty of pro consultants who know the property market inside out – and they won’t pull a fast one on you.
Once you’ve found a property you think you like, you’ll have to ask yourself a few questions:
- Can I afford it?
- Will it pull in the right kind of customers?
- Are any of my competitors nearby?
- Will the upkeep – utilities and stock delivery – cost more than other potential properties?
All these elements could dramatically change your perception of the ‘perfect’ property. What’s more, they’ll have to be considered carefully. Once you sign on the dotted line, there’s no going back for at least six months.
It’s a lot of elements to consider, but a new property could be the biggest step your business ever takes.