Checklist for Site Selection for Restaurants and Food Establishments

Site Selection Franchise Alan George

Location, location, location- How to begin the site selection process for food services your franchisees.

There are lots of factors in determining sites for your franchisee.   The practice of site selection is both art and science.  Many old-time real estate guys don’t believe in demographic analysis and believe you have to “Smell the ground“ for site selection  to be truly successful. I am a firm believer in the art of site selection.

Here’s the art for site selection for a franchisees’ 1st unit. 

Easy access to franchisees home.   We want the franchisee to be able to have a relatively easy commute to work.  Why buy a business, then have a 60 minute commute?  There is nothing more frustrating to a franchisee than having to drive through heavy traffic or 60 minutes to answer an police/fire alarm at 2 AM in the morning.  It is better to move a franchisees home, than to pick a bad location.  Buying a franchise is a life changing event.  Moving to a better location could and should be part of that commitment.   The first step in site selection is the drive the neighborhood that you currently live and shop and look for FOR RENT signs.

Not too big, not too small.  Look for locations that fit size and rent according to the 5 year pro-forma.   Too big’s high rent can cut deeply into profit, too small will not allow for the correct seat-age will not deliver the possible revue needed to make the business profitable.

Use demographic analysis to say NO, rather than YES.  Great site selection takes time and effort.  NO is always a good answer to a bad location.  Do not compromise on a location just to get a unit open.  Lots of sites will look good on paper, but once visited will be a disaster.

The walk and the talk of site selection:  If your demographic analysis suggest a site visit is worthwhile, be ready to walk and talk (and drive)
1. Drive the site:  Is site accessible from both sides of the road? Can I access site from both directions. Is left turn possible?
2. Traffic: Is traffic going the right way during busy hours?  Coffee needs big traffic going to work, take away needs big traffic coming home from work.
3. Can I see the site from the road?  Drive-by’s will be a part of your customer base.  Customers will get in the car and drive to find a place to eat and drink.  Great roadside visibility will dramatically increase this patronage.
4. Is there good signage and entrance direction? GPS can take a potential client close, but not close enough to get in the front door.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting that: You have arrived on your GPS and the place is nowhere to be found.  Ideally we will have great signage at roadside, monument signage as we progress to site, and finally get great big lighted brand sign on front of the unit.
5. Walk the site:  Is it clean?  Any signs of graffiti?  Decay?  Potential liability issues?  Potholes in parking lot?  Are dumpsters in correct position?  Does it smell?  Nobody wants to eat next door to a fertilizer factory.
6. Is the front door facing the street?  You can’t get in if you cannot find the entrance.  Sounds silly, but sites will have doors on sides of building, not front.
7. Does front of the building have lots of glass?  Potential patrons want to look inside.  Is it clean?  Are there other customers inside?  Is it warm and inviting?   Make sure your glass has lots of sunlight.  We want overhang, but we don’t want to be too far inside the roofline so that we limit our visibility.  The exception to this is if we can have year round outside seating.
8. Parking- Make sure you have 2.3 spots per table.  Meet me at the restaurant- 3 friends- three cars- all need parking
9. Left-hand turn.  Make sure the is a easy entrance.  Taking a u-turn or trying to cross two lanes is challenging.  Look for traffic lights to assist entrance

When it comes to site selection it’s the franchisor responsibility to know these simple rules.  Otherwise, a commission-hungry leasing broker or greedy building will convince you of a poor site selection.  For more information on how to choose the right location for your franchised business, contact us

Alan George

Vice President

Franchise Marketing Systems

[email protected]