Sage advice in site selection: use a commercial broker that lives in the subject market. There are usually two brokers involved in each transaction; a broker representing the Landlord, and a broker representing the Tenant. It is a common mistake for small business owners and franchisees to forego their representation – to just use the Landlords broker. The reasoning is that they believe they can save money on a deal if they go it alone. What they’re not considering is the value that the Tenant-broker brings to the table. Some of the services that brokers provide are trade area intelligence, current market rates, comparable establishments in the immediate area, a buffer in negotiation with the landlord, utilization of a network, experience with different uses, and the ability to get sales data from direct or indirect competition. They will also save you time by turning up multiple opportunities at once, producing heat maps based on your choice demographics, chasing down the answers to your site specific questions, and hosting you on a thorough site tour of the market.
You should spend some time with your broker before they scout any real estate for you. Make sure the two of you are a good personality fit. You’ll be working with them often throughout the lifespan of the deal. Provide them with information on your brand and your target customer. If you, or your Franchisor (if applicable) have certain site criteria, be sure to let your broker know beforehand so that you don’t waste time looking at sites that will not work for you.