“I’m in the stage now that I need an actual location. My question to you is how important is the actual location of the studio? The reason I ask is because I fell in love with this particular building and the price is right but the location isn’t too great. It’s outside the city a couple miles and off the beaten trail so I wouldn’t get any drive by business. I have excellent marketing skills and ideas though. Would that be enough? Or is my business going to fail before it even has a chance because of the bad location?” ~Heather
Great question Heather. There are actually several ways to look at this, and you made several references in your email that I will address to help you along your process.
Is location important?
If you talk to anyone in real estate, they tell you the only important thing is location, location, location. And I agree.
But different businesses have different ways of addressing the location issue.
A fast food restaurant, for instance, depends on quantity. They need as many people as possible coming through their drive thru every single day. If they aren’t near a large area of population with easy access to the main thoroughfare, they won’t stay in business.
Yet for photography businesses, it’s completely different.
Is drive by traffic important?
The first thing to think about is if you really want drive by business. If you are running your business like a big box store, where you need an ever-flowing client base coming through your doors, this is important. But if you plan on keeping your photography business very customized, working with just a few select clients a day, drive by traffic loses its value.
Instead, what you need to think about is the ease of finding the place, and whether the location offers you enough variety to give you what you need to shoot incredible images. Will you solely be working in studio? Then make sure it has enough space to put up a variety of backdrops and scenes, plus has room for meeting your clients. Or are you looking for outdoor portrait work as well? If that’s the case, you need to find a location that lets you build outdoor scenes, or is close to locations you can get to easily.
Think about safety
When we first started looking for studio space, we found a great place. It was in the middle of Denver, sat a block off a main street, and was in an old second floor dance studio. The ceiling height meant we could do anything in there. And the old wooden floors gave it charm. We loved that place. And it was great – during the day. At night, it was dark and looming to move from your car to the door. I was even nervous as a female by myself. So that became my new rule – as long as I was comfortable as a female moving from the car to the door at night by myself, I felt it was a good location.
Make sure you think about it from your clients’ perspectives. Will they feel comfortable going there? Will they be comfortable going to and from their cars to you door in the evening? It may not be something you think about now when the sun is out until 9pm, but winter will be here soon enough. While you can’t please everyone all the time, as long as you are conscious about your location and how the majority will feel, you should be okay.
It’s all about marketing
In the past, a client would call you on the phone, come in to view your work, come in for the shoot, come back for the sales presentation, come back to order, and come back to pick up the images. At a minimum, that’s 5 visits to your location. With the Internet, that’s changed. People view your work online, so they don’t have to come in to view your work. If you are meeting them on-location, they won’t visit your studio for the shoot. Sales presentations can be done at the same time as the shoot, eliminating one step. Or you can do the sales presentation and ordering online. All orders can be mailed when finalized, which means they no longer have to schedule a final pick up. Yes, you may want to have more contact with your clients along the way, and there is nothing wrong with bringing them in. The important thing to remember is its not necessary; you can handle everything by using technology, and make your business that much stronger.
So ultimately it comes down how you market your business, what type of clients you attract, and what they expect. If you market to them about your process, they understand what you are doing along the way.
If you’ve chosen your studio space because of its great location, its worth the extra drive. Market it that way.
Can location cause a failure?
Finally, I thought quite a bit about your question: Or is my business going to fail before it even has a chance because of the bad location?
If you found a great building that offers you everything you want and desire, and the price is right, you can find a way to make it work. If the building is okay, and the only reason you really love it is price alone, that’s a different story.
Failure comes from not marketing and selling correctly, and not spending time on the things that are important to grow your business. If you choose a place because it gives you everything you need and then some, you’ll continue to find successful ways to bring people into your location. You’ll love it and it will show in everything you do.
If you lease it because of price, you’ll quickly find the “bad” in it. You’ll see the location as a deterrent, and that will come off to your clientele. The space you have will be the wrong dimensions, or the wrong layout, or the wrong color, etc. It will never be “right” because you’ll see it “wrong” every time you enter.
Hope that helps Heather. Keep me in the loop – I’d love to hear what you decide to do down the road, and how it’s working for you.
Anyone else have any additional advice?