A lot. In Great Harvest, we teach that there are six fundamental areas of the business
that you have to get right to be successful. Location, product quality, customer service, marketing, people and numbers. All can be changed, redirected or fixed fairly easily, except for the location.
For that reason, we pay particular attention to it from the moment someone signs a franchise agreement. I talk about how we do location work in a location hunting interview you can listen to if you are interested in more details.
We really believe that the success of any local business starts with the location. A vision of what the bakery feels like starts to dictate where it goes. The vision has to come from the local business owners and their heart.
All companies look at demographic data when looking for a location but we do so much more than that. We like to think of how we search for locations as fun, professional and supportive.
We start by asking "what do you want your bakery to look and feel like?" Not specifics, but a general feeling -- urban, suburban, downtown, industrial, bright, with or without seating or what? That is a fun and exciting time. It is a time to dream and smile.
Then, we let the professional side take over. We look for the right size and cost and tenant mix and accessibility.
And then we work on supporting owners with the legal aspects of the transaction. As with any real property deal, there is a legal document (a lease in this case) that lays down the rules. Negotiating a lease is intimidating. We do it with or for you along with the help of a local lawyer.
Site selection is the most important first step in opening any small business. We have done it well for over 30 years and have fun doing it. Literally, the people that wrote the book on location hunting in Great Harvest (I am one of them) still are with us. We know how important it is and how much new owners worry about this decision. We have a seasoned real estate team and a time-tested process that we all are very passionate about.
One thing that I am especially proud of is that every real estate deal for a new store touches my desk (which is my laptop) at some point. We care enough about this to where all of our decisions are made by a team and that team includes the CEO of the company.
Thanks for reading.