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Finding A Snow Cone Stand Location
Location, location, location
A real estate baron, Lord Harold Samuel, coined the phrase: “There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location”. No other factor is as important to the success of your business as the location you choose.
Location is not the only consideration. You also need a quality product, a clean booth and friendly employees. You also need signs that are bright and visible from the main road and driveways. None of this will be for naught if you can’t attract customers to your area. Careful scoping of new sites is essential for most retail businesses. I can give you some general guidelines and things to consider when making this decision. It’s time to put location at the top of your to-do list. Below are some of the things you should consider.
For a basic snow cone stand, a little common sense is the main element in your decision making. There are software tools that will give you traffic patterns, demographic information, and other data, but you should put your booth not just in your city, but in neighborhoods you know. You should know, just for living there, the main areas to search for locations.
You should look for an area with young families and children or high school students who can drive. Elementary, middle and high schools are good neighborhoods. Parks, swimming pools and sports complexes for children are also good indicators of good demographics. High traffic areas like malls, restaurants, and stores are another good indicator. Depending on your city, pedestrian traffic or car traffic will be much more important. Another indicator is if there are other child-friendly businesses in the area. Do you see an area with a concentration of ice cream parlors, toy stores, arcades or other similar businesses? If these companies are successful in this area, you probably will be.
Once you have decided which areas you should consider, you should test your locations to see what will work best. The easiest way to check is to go outside and survey the area. Park where you want to and watch for traffic. Are there a lot of kids running around in the local park? Do you see as many cars as you expected? Are families moving in and out of local businesses? Sitting and watching on a weekday and a Saturday can be the best way to really get to know an area.
Leasing and rental
There’s more to your snow cone holder at this point. Just because you’ve found your dream parking lot or storefront doesn’t mean the job is done. Hopefully there is more than one place that you think will work for your business. If so, you need to start contacting business owners to sign a lease. Your rental agreement is almost as important as the location itself. A good owner can make your business a lot smoother, but a more difficult owner can cause you a lot of problems and stress.
In general, there are 2 types of business owners you can work with: small business owners and large chain stores. Small business owners are much easier to work with. You can usually deal with the owner personally, and the business owner will appreciate the rental income. The head office usually manages the rental of parking spaces for a large chain of stores. In this case, you can’t just walk into your local Wal-Mart, Target, or Best Buy and sign a lease. Trying to deal with a corporate office means spending a lot of time on the phone trying to find the right person to talk to. Even when you find them, you have to hope they care enough to call you back. The person on the other end of the line will not see any of your rental income, but must go the extra mile to help you. There is no incentive for this to happen. There are also a number of chains that have a general policy of not dealing with small businesses or renting parking spaces.
The amount you should pay for rent varies greatly from city to city and location to location. In my experience, $250-400 was an average rent range, but that may not be accurate for your situation. I suggest asking other snow cone owners and dealerships for a range of going rates. Be sure to indicate if the lease includes electricity for your booth and how you get the electricity. Other easily overlooked problems are where you can empty your dirty water tanks and dump your trash. You also need to make sure there are parking spaces for your customers and the times you can keep the stall open. It may seem obvious, but you need to make sure you and the owner are on the same page. If you don’t specify, a different set of ideas can get you in a lot of trouble.
Be aware of all costs associated with the initial opening of your business and location. This information is crucial for properly budgeting and planning your opening. When it comes to starting a business, underestimating the costs and time involved is one of the most common and dangerous mistakes new entrepreneurs make. It is also one of the easiest to avoid.
The best advice I can give anyone is to be thorough in your research. There are no perfect or simple answers. Know your city, region and particular location. Test your assumptions and do the work to make sure the place is as busy and kid-friendly as you thought. Good luck!
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