As someone who happens to love neighborhood commercial locations for business, I always cringe when I drive through a “business park.”
After watching many clients, friends and even competitors choose business locations around the midstate, I’ve come to the conclusion that the space you choose to set up shop in says a lot about your brand.
What do I mean? Let’s look at an example. Take your garden variety professional firm: a few principals (or even just one) hanging out a shingle. They could:
a. Rehab an older storefront downtown.
b. Lease a business park office space.
c. Take up several rooms in a coworking or office building.
d. Work from home.
I would contend that this decision -- where to locate -- will affect their brand’s image as a community business or as a business that is an island to itself. This business’s choice of commercial space may actually turn out to be critical to its success and growth.
I know a marketing firm, for example, that was based out of the owner’s home (it was spacious). After a time, however, he moved it to a downtown location right in the center of things. His ability to service his clients was not enhanced by the move; he did it to “make a statement” about his brand – that it was accessible and “downtown savvy.” Now his shingle hangs in full view on a busy street.
In another example, a print shop owner who, after choosing the older storefront option, was constantly frustrated by the walk-in traffic that distracted him from his larger, corporate projects. He used to complain to me about all the “can I use your copier” requests from people standing in his doorway.
In this case, his cultivated brand of being available to corporate clients necessitated a business park location that kept his team focused. He made the move to a nondescript location with a small sign on the door.
Next time you’re driving through town, observe the businesses around you and ask yourself why they located here or there. It’s an interesting exercise.