There are a lot of factors to consider when starting a business, expanding, or relocating an existing one. Here are a handful of questions to ask yourself that will help you choose the perfect office location.
What is Your Budget?
In all real estate endeavors, including commercial real estate, a proper understanding of your budget should always be a top consideration. The old cliche that real estate is all about location, location, location is true—and those locations can have vastly different price points. Whether you choose to house your office in your city’s central business district, along a main transportation artery, or outside city limits will affect your price point. Real estate taxes will also vary by location.
As you form your budget, keep other costs in mind, as well. Your perfect office location may require substantial renovations or upgrades to bring the space up to speed with your business needs and create the best environment for your brand. If you’re just starting your business, you will need to budget for office furniture and equipment. If you’re moving an existing business, you may need to buy new signage or pay to advertise your new location.
Where are Your Customers or Clients?
In business speak, what is your market segment, and where can you find them? Does your business target young professionals, established families, or retirees? Do you offer affordable services or luxury services? Whatever the case, don’t make it difficult for customers to find you. Choose a neighborhood nearest to where your core customer base lives and works. If your business depends on customers visiting you on site, consider the foot traffic, transportation options, and parking options available, as well.
Of course, not all businesses cater directly to individual customers. But the same question would apply to B2B businesses. Do you offer services for industrial businesses? Then, perhaps an office near your city’s industrial district would make the most sense. What about if your business offers creative services for clients who are largely out of town and never visit your office? In that case, your budget and employee needs should come first.
Where are Your Competitors?
Contrary to your first instincts, it may pay to be near your competitors. After all, it works for the startups in Silicon Valley. And that’s how Asheville’s River Arts District and South Slope Brewery Districts have come about. Being near competitors can also be beneficial for medical offices in medical parks.
Even if you choose not to locate your office near your competitors, it helps to take a careful look at where they are. Are all your competitors located in the heart of downtown? Are they all located outside city limits, or within walking distance to public transportation? Why did they choose their location, and what can you learn from that? Those answers may help give you guidance on what you’re looking for in your office space.
What do Your Employees Need?
Right now, there are a lot of discussions going on about remote work. Do your employees thrive when working remotely, or are you eager to get them all under one roof? If you’re looking for a location that can accomodate everyone, you’ll need to understand how much office space you need. It’s also important to consider the office features you need to prioritize wellbeing and safety. Do you want to find a space with an open layout, or one where every employee can have their own enclosed space? If you have a specialty business or medical practice, like a dental office, you’ll need to communicate those layout and health needs even more clearly.
While you’re thinking about your employees, consider if the location is convenient for them. Moving an office to the next county may be great for your clients or your bottom line. But if it doubles your employees’ commute, that could severely hamper your retention. It’s also helpful to think about the amenities of the neighborhood. For instance, can employees walk to a cute coffee shop or to grab a quick lunch nearby?
Are you the only employee in your business (right now)? It’s possible you could skip an office lease all together and become a member of a coworking space instead!
What’s Your 10-Year Plan?
No matter your other considerations, it’s always important to plan for growth. Sure, the future is largely uncertain. But when it comes to finding a space—especially one whose address you’re going to plaster on your website, business cards, print advertisements, etc.—you need to choose one that will scale and grow with you. Don’t overreach your budget for the sake of extra space. Instead, think critically about your business goals and your possible needs for future staffing, reception, and inventory.
If you have an established business in which you have high confidence, consider future real estate growth, as well. It may pay in the long run to place your office in the “less popular” or less developed side of town if there is strong potential for growth in the future. Every business wants to be in the “up and coming” neighborhood, so think about how you can be there first, before its popularity peaks.
Ready to Find the Perfect Office for Your Business?
The questions above give you a lot to think about when starting your office search. However, by understanding your needs clearly up front, your search should go smoothly. And your commercial real estate agent is by your side to help.
NAI Beverly-Hanks continually strives to be the best in the business and provide you with the expertise you need to find the perfect office space. Contact us today to speak with an NAI Beverly-Hanks commercial real estate agent about securing the perfect office space for your Western North Carolina business.