Finding the right business premises

Introduction

Finding premises that are a perfect fit for your business can be a challenge. There are a number of things you need to consider when searching for your ideal workspace, for example: location; lease type; ease of customer access; growth potential; and storage capacity.

Before you start looking, you first need to come up with a specification of all the things you want from your property. You do not want to commit to a contract on a premises that restricts you from using it in the way you want. So, before you put pen to paper, consider:

Location

You need your premises to be in the right place, especially if you want to sell directly to your customers. Placing a restaurant or shop in a location that is not easily accessible is going to put a serious limit to the number of potential customers who walk through your doors.

Take a look at your target market and develop your ideal customer profile. Not only will it help you with your marketing later down the line, it can also help you understand where best to place your premises to attract the greatest number of potential customers.

You should also check out where your competitors are based. If you are looking for exclusivity, you will not want to be close to other similar businesses. However, if you want to enter into some healthy competition in a place where there are lots of potential customers, you might not mind being so nearby.

Consider how easy it will be for both your customers and your staff to come and go from your premises. Things like car parking spaces, local transport links and other amenities might need to be readily accessible for all the people interacting with your business.

Weigh up the pros and cons of locating your business in the centre of a town or city against a slightly further out or more rural location. Prime spaces in the centre of town are going to be significantly more expensive, but also have the benefits of increased footfall and potential customer interest.

Office developments on the outskirts of an urban centre centre often have ample parking which will be great for your staff provided they have their own transport. However, if they rely on public transportation, it could prove difficult for them to get to. Therefore, it is wise to weigh up the cost versus the benefits and drawbacks associated with the location of a premises before you commit.

What do you need to do with the premises?

Before you start looking for your premises, come up with a list of the things you want to do with it. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how you need to use the space to efficiently run your business.

If you are office-based, for example, assess the space that each of your staff members will need to be able to work effectively, and consider whether you will need space for equipment, meetings or storage. If you are having customers move through your premises, you will need to think about the routes they can take around the space. Leaving too much empty space can be just as off putting as overcrowding.

What services will you need access to in your premises? Gas and electric, plumbing and internet are all musts, but there will be lots of other factors to take into consideration. Checking out where power sockets are, the security measures in place on site, whether other supplementary services can be supported, are great examples of other aspects that you might need to be aware of.

Another question to ask is whether you are going to need to make any changes to the premises when you move in to be able to operate? It will be much easier to get yourself set up if you do not have to apply for a change of ‘use class’ for the space before you can start doing business.

You might also need to acquire planning permissions if you are wanting to make changes to the building. You will also need to get the appropriate licences registered at the address to make sure your business is legally compliant.

Business regulations are often the trickiest thing to get your head around when running a business. To make it a bit less stressful, you can speak with an advisor at the Growth Hub who can help you overcome this challenge.

Licensing, leasing or buying a business premises

You will have to take a critical eye to your finances and see what you are reasonably able to pay for your business premises. Before you start looking for places, set yourself a realistic budget and maximum price. You will then need to consider what type of property contract you are best suited to, whether that be to license, lease, or buy.

Licensing is, in the short term, the cheapest option and is most suited to business start-ups. They cover shorter periods of time and it is easier for you to terminate the arrangement if you need to.

It is common for you to put down one month’s rent as a deposit and then pay monthly or quarterly. Licensed spaces often have shared meeting rooms and other office facilities so you can benefit from a business community around you. You will also likely not be responsible for maintaining the space, so if something structurally needs repairing, your landlord will do so.

Leases usually tie you into a premises for a longer period of time than a licensed property, giving you a bit more stability. Leases often have fixed lease prices for a specified amount of time, which will protect your money if rent prices rise. However, if they fall, you will still be tied in to the rate set.

You also might be liable to pay the rent for the full contract term even if you leave early. Although, with a lease, you probably will have some power to be able to make changes to the premises with your landlord’s permission, so you can adapt the space to suit your needs.

Buying a premises outright comes with a lot of additional responsibilities, but it does have its rewards. You will not have to check in with a landlord if you want to make changes to the building, you will just need your planning permission. In addition, you will not be at risk of being asked to leave the space.

However, if something goes wrong with the building, you will have to cover all the costs yourself and of course, you will need a large sum of money to secure the property in the first place.

Where to start looking for business premises

One of the best places to start looking for business premises is on your local authority’s website. York, Scarborough, Harrogate, Craven, East Riding, Hambleton, Selby, Ryedale, and Richmondshire all list online the different commercial properties that are available to rent or buy. Your local chamber of commerce or trade associations may also list local premises for rent or purchase, so it is also worth checking their websites.

You might also consider enlisting the services of a chartered surveyor. They will have a good working knowledge of the premises in the area as well as handling contracts, so they can be a great asset to helping you find and secure your new space.

Commercial agents can also be really useful, but can cost a little more than chartered surveyors as they work for a landlord or seller who wants to get buyers or renters for their properties. They will have lots of details of the properties in your local area, and can give you information about the energy efficiency of the property. However, they may also try and rush you into a decision before you are fully ready to commit.