Canadian Pizza Magazine

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pizza on fire: Go for good neighbours


July 15, 2009
By Tom Stankiewicz

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After months of planning and negotiating, you are finally ready to open your business. Your financing is in order and your business is about to take off like crazy. The next step, probably as important as the business idea itself, is to open in the best location possible. Being in a good area that has a high traffic volume could translate into increased sales without additional advertising. That will save your business money that could be used for other things, such as buying new equipment.

After months of planning and negotiating, you are finally ready to open
your business. Your financing is in order and your business is about to
take off like crazy. The next step, probably as important as the
business idea itself, is to open in the best location possible. Being
in a good area that has a high traffic volume could translate into
increased sales without additional advertising. That will save your
business money that could be used for other things, such as buying new
equipment.

It is important to take a look at the existing businesses that will
surround you and decide if it makes sense to be a part of that cluster.
See if there is another pizzeria operating nearby. How long has it been
there? Do they already have established clientele? It might be tough
for a new pizza store to win them over. This is something that you have
to consider since you would be counting on the same people to buy your
product. What are its hours of operation? Short hours might mean that
business is slow and there is not much demand for what you are planning
to offer. This is particularly important to note when another pizzeria
has established itself in the area already. Are there any other
businesses offering take-out or dine-in menus? They will be your
competition as well. The idea is to find a location where you are
different enough from other businesses and customers will buy your
product since no one else is offering it to them in that area.

Once you have decided that your business will fit perfectly with the
surrounding companies, it is wise to scope out the neighbourhood
itself. If you live in the city you want to open the business in, you
probably already have a pretty good idea where is best and not much
research has to be done. Investigating the neighbourhood becomes more
important when you are planning to open your business in a city that is
new to you and you don’t know much about it. This is an important step
in your business strategy because most people don’t like venturing into
neighbourhoods with bad reputations, even for the best food ever. Like
most of us, they try to avoid it and visit only if they have to.
Obviously, this would not give your business the great start that you
hope for. Think of certain streets you know of that look perfect for
business but the surrounding area is what most of us would consider
second rate.

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Take a walk around your potential new neighbourhood to get a visual
assessment of the area. You don’t want to see a lot of houses or
buildings that look very tired and empty or run down. That’s not a sign
of a business friendly environment. I could name a few areas in my city
that look exactly like that and opening a business nearby would be a
very bad financial investment. I have seen many people try to do it
anyway with the thought that they can overcome anything. Unfortunately,
every business venture has been forced to shut down its doors within
two or three months because it’s absolutely impossible to keep the
business going without the right type of customers.

That’s not to say that no business can survive it, but it’s important
to evaluate who your customers need to be in order for your business to
prosper. Ideally, you would want the area to be somewhat neat and
presentable.

But, as we all know, appearances can be deceiving. So, aside from
looking around yourself, ask questions about the neighborhood. If you
know someone who lives in the city, ask for his or her opinion of the
area. Would they describe it in a positive or negative way? If you
don’t know anybody who can answer those questions for you, I wouldn’t
hesitate to simply call a real estate agent. He or she will be very
knowledgeable about the city and very likely provide you with an
objective opinion. People who are operating businesses in the area can be another source of helpful
information. They would have firsthand experience with things like
traffic volume and typical customer base. You can ask the person who is
renting the business space to you, although the answers may be a bit
clouded by a first priority to find a tenant.

Very often the reputation of the neighbourhood becomes the reputation
of the business. People automatically blend the two together simply
because you are part of that environment. No matter how hard you try,
it is something that you won’t be able to change. This is another
reason why location and your business neighbours are an important part
of your overall business planning. You can just imagine how a negative
association can hurt your business.

Running a successful business is not just about having the right idea.
Your strategy must include some research about business location and
nearby neighbourhood. Both play essential parts in the survival of your
business and they give any business owner an extra edge over those who
happen to be located in areas that are not so great.



Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for over 15 years. He
has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London since 2000.


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