A Bad Site is a Bad Site

Part 2-
The things that can make a site stink

So as you can see, the reason for the lackluster sales of this unit could not be attributed to either the demographics of the area nor the physical layout of the lot and building, the problem was much smaller than that and therefore slightly harder to see.

When sites fail to produce, usually it’s culmination of the little things that are to blame. Seemingly insignificant imperfections that many people overlook or fail to spot when considering a potential location (including the folks at Starbucks, evidently). But if you add them up, they become a really big problem.

First; it’s a mid-block location. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself; lots of businesses can and have worked being situated mid-block. But it depends on how close you are to a very busy intersection that can actually impact the quality of a site.

In this case, even though there are six traffic lanes in front of the location; the four east- bound lanes (the store side) often backed up in front of the site due to the signal changes. Add a “no right turn on red” restriction at the intersection and you can already start feeling the pain.  In other words, the intersection itself was actually too busy!

During most hours of the day, the folks heading west-bound on CR 39 (the opposite side of the road) could only look at the place as they drove-on past. Because there are four lanes of east-bound traffic that back up in front of the site at most hours of the day (especially during peak morning periods) and even if someone did risk crossing the double-yellow line, they risked getting a traffic ticket - the Police in Southampton do take their job seriously ...trust me.

This is where a few hours spent “living the site” could help you avoid making the same mistake. When you are considering a final cut location, spend as much time as possible in the area and try to see the site from the customer’s prospective.   

Drive past the site and try to honestly judge the visibility from both directions. Pull in and out of the parking lot a bunch of times (turning to leave in all directions as well). Most importantly, do this during peak periods, when you expect business to be the busiest.

The point is to use the place as much as possible and see how it fits your customer’s needs well before you sign on the dotted line. If there is the potential for large seasonality swings in traffic, do your best to judge the impact it will have. If your business is going to rely on both directions of traffic, you should have direct and unimpeded access to both sides of the road. Sit and watch the traffic flow in front of the site. Take notice of how the near-by signal breaks up the flow of traffic in front of the site. Is it regular and predictable so customers entering and exiting your parking lot can do so safely and easily? If not, you may want to keep looking for a more suitable location.

And, while you're doing all this; right now would be a good time to start thinking about signage. Are there any trees that line the street? Then consider going with a monument sign rather than a pole sign, if permitted. Take notice of the signs on the newer businesses in the immediate area to give you a indication of what may be expected of you...You 're here to judge the whole site, be as critical as possible and look for the little things.

Although this site had a traffic light nearby, it actually proved to be a detriment. It was located at a place where all it did was serve to stack cars in front, blocking the parking lot’s access and cripple the business. The site, also had restricted “right in/right out” (not surprising due to the 32,000 ADT), so it was doomed from the very start, despite having a great product and some really good site characteristics.But I'm sure it looked great on paper…

The bottom line is: Starbucks is a great organization with high-quality products...if they can make mistakes, so can you. "Live" your sites, visit them often (at all hours of the day) and do your best to understand its surroundings and how the area works.

Happy Hunting...

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