Little Greek Fresh Grill president gives 10 tips to land great real estate in a tight market
By Nick Vojnovic, president, Little Greek Fresh Grill/ Little Greek Franchise Development
Finding real estate should not be taken lightly. Don't treat the search like your playing the Monopoly board game — rolling the dice and hoping to land on that elusive "Park Place" spot.
It's getting tougher to find good spots, a fact we have learned while seeking the right locations for our fast casua,l multi-unit brank now in five states. Here are some tips to help you make your real estate search a success.
1. Find a great local broker. Savvy brokers can be aware spots before they go on the market. This will give you an edge.
2. Fast casual has changed the game. The fast casual boom has driven real estate costs to astounding levels nationwide. It's a landlord's market now. If you do your homework and, with some luck, you will find a landlord that is looking for a tenant like you.
3. Consider your space options. It can often be viable to go into a second-generation restaurant space for lease. These spaces most likely have an existing kitchen and the infrastructure required. If you are able to build out space, you will have more options. There are pros and cons to either strategy.
4. Consider small spots. We like small spots around 1,500 square feet or so. Sometimes we ask landlords to split a larger space.
5. Be patient. Do not be hasty and take a bad location just to get a store open.
6. Costs are skyrocketing. Expenses such as rents and construction costs. So is common area maintenance (cam), such as trash, parking lot, taxes and insurance. Cam costs are usually several hundred dollars a month, but now can be up to the thousands. Make sure the numbers work on normal sales. Factor these into your budget.
7. Network through other operators. Some locations move around. Restaurant operators can be a valuable resource.
8. Have realistic expectations. Don't underestimate the amount of time it may take to find the location with all the right ingredients. This often may take six to twelve months.
9. Non-traditional sites beware. Always watch out when it comes to non-traditional sites. This category includes stadiums, hospitals and universities. Visibility, parking and accessibility could bring unwanted challenges. Contract agreements may be tough to negotiate. Also, consider if the site requires a monthly percentage of your sales.
10. Time is of the essence. Move quickly once you've found a viable location.
Follow these 10 suggestions and, just like the Monopoly board game, you may just find the perfect "Park Place' location for your restaurant. Despite the challenges, it can be an exciting journey.