As any start-up knows taking the first step into commercial premises is a big decision and a huge chapter in your business story. So how do you know what’s right for you?
Laura Melville from STEP’s property team has some top tips for finding your perfect property!
Choosing the right location can be critical to a business’s success. Every business has its own specific needs and requirements so the right location for you will, of course, depend on the nature of your business. How important is location to you? How flexible can you be?
If you’re a retail business then it’s crucial that you have a high footfall, so you may look at a city centre, retail park or shopping centre. However, if you don’t need walk by trade, you can dramatically cut costs by being located outside of the city centre.
Do you have to rely upon having goods delivered or collected? Then you must consider the access to your property. A rural location may be beautiful, but will an HGV get down those country roads? Will your customers or suppliers need to visit you? If so you will find it worthwhile being located close to them.
Size and Requirements
Size – You want a space that suits your needs but that you can grow into, also mindful of not taking on a property that is too large at the outset. Think about how many staff you have, your internal layout requirements and what additional space you will need, i.e., a showroom, storage or meeting room?
Access – Do you have restricted access to the property or can you access it 24/7? Do you need to be on the ground floor, do you need multiple, high or wide access points? Can customers, suppliers and employees reach the premises easily?
Connectivity – Before you commit to a space check out the broadband in the area and ensure it is up to scratch. Phone lines, do you need one? Many businesses are adapting to being mobile, however, if you are a call focused business like a call centre, phone line access will be very important.
Transport links and car parking – Do you need to be close to motorway links or bus and train stations? How will your
employees and customers get to your location? Being near train and bus links may mean you don’t need car parking. However, car parking is vitally important to some businesses – ask if there are any parking restrictions, how many spaces are allocated to the property you are considering or if there is
unrestricted parking on site.
Services – Think about the services you need to successfully run your business, not just power, broadband and phone lines, but also three-phase power, special ventilation requirements, waste disposal, a kitchen and toilets for employees and
Legal issues – What type of business do you have? Does the property have the correct Use Class for you to operate from that space? You may require approval from the Local Authority Planning Department to Change the Use of the property, for advertising consent or for any other restrictions that apply to the space.
Suggestion – Draw up a specification of exactly what you are looking for and what your needs are. Highlight which aspects are essential and those that are only desirable. A well thought out specification will save wasting time viewing properties that do not suit your business needs.
The majority of small businesses choose to rent a property to minimise the capital expenditure. If you choose to rent, read your lease – yes, even the fine print and ask questions first. Don’t be tied in to a long-term lease and it’s always worth getting advice before you sign. At STEP we have a Commercial Property Expert that will do this for you. Meet the Expert sessions are held on the last Wednesday of every month and you can register for a free half-hour session to discuss this
There are a lot of costs involved in renting or owning a business space. It’s not simply a matter of paying rent or mortgage costs. You will need to consider
business rates, utilities, insurance, cleaning and more. Find out what is, and what is not included and ask for all costs to be provided before you sign up, you don’t want any nasty surprises or hidden costs to arise once you’ve signed your lease.
Check out your neighbours
Have you wondered why there is a street in every town that is full of car retailers? Simple! It leads to cheaper marketing if you can steal customers who are visiting a close by competitor. So you may want to be near your competition if you have great products to display and an amazing curb appeal. If not you might want to be near your suppliers, to cut delivery costs, or near other businesses that make your life easier – a busy business community can mean you have peers to rely on and pull in favours in times of need.
Searching for premises
At STEP, we offer flexible terms on industrial, workspace and office space.
Whatever your requirements are, please get in touch. If we can’t provide you with your ideal property, we will refer your enquiry to a range of property partners that we work with.