I’ve just finished the draft of an eBook called ‘5 Top Mistakes People Make When They Are Buying a House’ and it struck me that there are many similarities when buying or locating a business. In this case I want to talk about neighbors.
Everyone always talks about location, location, location and many businesses don’t have the advantage of being a strategic destination like a Supermarket where they have the resources to buy land, a big car park and even securing land that would be perfect near their own stores, to prevent a competitor buying it.
In my book I talk about the impact neighbors can have on your home life. Good neighbors like I have, form a community who look out for each other, bad neighbors can make life a misery. I’ll be releasing the book soon for free. If you would like a copy, connect with me, let me know and I will send you a link when it is ready. It’s only about 40 pages, but IMHO full of golden nuggets that many people don’t think about. It isn’t just for first home buyers either.
I have often blogged and spoken about commercial neighbors. As a keynote at a Parking Industry Conference I spoke about the fact that car parks are not a destination and that they would do well to understand where the customer is actually going and find ways to network and collaborate with those places.
I have blogged about collaborations going right back to when Mike Blumsky owned a shoe store in Wellington and had a reciprocal arrangement with a cafe. Buy a pair of shoes and get a free coffee. Buy a coffee and get a discount voucher for shoes. So simple and obvious isn’t it? Yet almost no one does it.
Have a look at this picture and think about the synergies and look at the parking zone. How’s that for location? Nice kayak though…
In conjunction with my eBook I have a couple of recommendations. One is to go onto Streetview and look at a location before you even get in your car to look at it. I describe a journey I made from Auckland to Hamilton in New Zealand to look at a potential rental property several years ago. It was 146 km each way from my home. If I had looked on Streetview I would have seen rusting car carcasses and other artifacts next door, which explained why the selling price was low. I wouldn’t have wasted my time or money.
If you’re still here, I’ll get to the crux of the matter. If you are looking at investing in a business or a business location. Talk to the neighbors first.
I’m sure you can come up with a good list of questions.
- Is it a good location for business?
- Do you get good foot traffic?
- What’s the gossip about the area?
- Why is the business or location up for sale?
- Is the location working for you?
- Are their opportunities to collaborate somehow?
- Are there any major changes happening at this location, strip, mall, land use, neighborhood that will impact you?
The neighboring businesses are a gold mine. The vendor will be showing you books and statistics designed to make the business look great and it may be, but quite possibly isn’t. They want out and have skin in you getting in.
The neighbors don’t want anything from you other than perhaps that you don’t compete with them; and perhaps that you will help them get more customers if there is a synergy. If there are problems, most will take great pleasure in telling you their stories.
So whether you are buying a business, a lease or purchase of a building to house your business, or buying a house, talk to the neighbors second, after you have checked it out on Google Streetview first. Neighbors are a goldmine of information and will either fill you with confidence, or quickly help you decide that it is not a good fit for you.
Common sense? I’ve heard some interesting stories where emotional attachment to an idea, to a property through the presentation by a good sales person, or just wanting to get on with it, means that the most obvious (in hindsight perhaps) thing to do is talk to the neighbors first doesn’t come to mind.
I’d love you to leave a comment of your experience.