New premises: finding a home for your business

  1. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Business Editor, UKBF & AWEB Staff Member

    Posts: 91 Likes: 18
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    In association with Premier BusinessCare

    Finding a new home for your business is very rarely a simple procedure. When you’re looking to move, you have to juggle the risks, costs, bureaucratic foibles and, let’s not forget, the opportunities.

    While no one business is alike, there are a few standard, key things you’d do well to remember. In the initial, scoping out phase of finding a property, your focus should actually be on the premises’s surroundings.  

    “Is there any other competition nearby,” asks UKBF member Red Onion. You should be thinking “about competition, proximity to potential customers and footfall,” adds JeffNev.

    The key is to imagine your business at the premises in question. What’s the day-to-day requirements. Take parking, for instance: “I'd say that's pretty crucial unless you're in a busy city centre,” says [email protected] KarmaContent. “I was out and about the other day and was hungry and drove past three sandwich shops till I came across one that I could park straight outside.”

    What’s the vibe in at present? Think of your potential customers in the area (are they there to begin with?) and ask: where are they going at present? Will the premises aid your ability to intercept their custom?

    “Location, location, location!” writes Rumbly. “It's footfall that defines your opportunity then, a good way further down, it's design and customer experience that harvests it. You may never find the perfect location, but do be super picky, because you'll live with the consequences of your choice for a long time.”

    If you want to gain an intimate understanding of the area you might move into, Clinton has a few tricks up his sleeve: “Check local authority plans. Check that a major competitor isn't opening a branch down the road. Make friends with other business owners in the area and pump them for info and pothole warnings (eg. a proposal for all local parking to change from free to £10 a day). Set up social media and Google Alerts for the area, the name of the previous business and other keywords you decide are worth monitoring.”

    And then Clinton offers a crucial nugget of advice: “Get the building and lease properly checked out.”UKBF user Makeyourbusinessbetter cautions: “Take care with any lease, I have seen more problems with people signing leases they have trouble getting out of than anything else.”

    In insurance broker Premier BusinessCare’s guide to finding and licensing a premises, Paul Bagust, director of Commercial Property Professional Group at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warns that “people don’t always take time to read their leases in detail, that’s the fundamental flaw”.

    “There is an assumption that a lease is presented to you, you sign it and then you give it back. That’s not at all how it should be. You need to understand the whole lease terms especially when it comes to rent reviews and things like dilapidations,” he adds.

    If you’re looking to rent, then a little bit of research could potentially stop you getting a bad deal. To return to Clinton’s idea of networking with local business owners, a neat trick is checking other rental prices around the area. Ask other local businesses what they pay, check listings: you may be able to negotiate with the landlord if there are similar properties available for lower rent.

    If you’re taking over a lease, speak to the previous tenant. Toby Willows has a few pragmatic questions: “Why are you quitting? What's the rent? What's the [business] rates?” And for you, there’s the more philosophical question: “Why am I going to make it a success when the previous owners are giving up on it?”

    The rent and the rates are obvious costs - but what’s next? What’s the new areas profile? Insurance rates, for instance, are highly calibrated and factor in things like higher crime rates, flooding and other risks into the premium. When you’re considering moving Premier BusinessCare would recommend you speak to your insurance advisor to ensure your current insurance policy provides the protection you require. Insurance is frequently premises specific and therefore won’t automatically extend to any new location.

    Buying a premises comes with even more intrigue; steel yourself for paperwork, admin and fees. A commercial mortgage will be your first challenge. According to Jonathan Hand, founder of the commercial property agent TalkSpace, the lender will need a laundry list of information:

    “A mortgage lender will likely wish to see: Audited accounts for the last two years, a profit and loss forecast/ growth projections for the next few years, current business performance, the personal details of the key stakeholders in the business for credit-checking, asset and liability statements for each applicant, a business plan detailing how the property will contribute to your cashflow and how you plan on repaying the loan, the credit status of the business and details of any personal investments involved.”

    If you can satisfy these requirements, you’ll most likely be in luck. But again, it’s worth considering what comes after buying a property or agreeing a lease. As Hand explains in Premier BusinessCare’s guide: “The type of premises you rent or buy and the location that you pick will be partly dictated by the type of business that you are running and the amount you can afford – taking into account extra costs such as business rates, utility bills and insurance.”

    Premier BusinessCare advisors can arrange a flexible insurance policy that is adapted to suit your business requirements, so if you’re moving premises finding the right policy shouldn’t be complicated and time consuming – in fact it should be as straightforward as possible. If you’re looking for business insurance, it’ simple to compare quotes with Premier BusinessCare.​