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Shop-Front Ground Level ‘Vs’ First-Floor Accounting Practices

We often get asked as to what is the percentage of walk-ins for shop fronts compared to say first floor or upper-level offices when choosing an accounting/tax practice location.

Ground floor in the right area near anchor businesses is always superior. You don’t get walk-in business to level 1 as such. ‘Walk-in’ means walking in straight off the street. People on the ground (roads, footpaths etc.) are looking at doors, windows and fascias that are at their level. So, this is where most of the people are and accordingly where you also want to be.

Aside from visibility and exposure for signage which decreases once you leave ground level, there is the added inconvenience of lifts and stairs to gain access.

Location and position are huge factors! If you look at the Brumby’s Bakeries, they found that in their case being in a shopping centre was highly beneficial BUT it was also important to be on the exit of the centre out into the car park. Why? Because people wanted to buy their bread and place it on top of their trolley items from the supermarket. Otherwise, the bread got squashed. If they could not do this, they favoured buying from the supermarket at the same time as doing their other groceries.

So, to take business away from the supermarket and succeed in terms of bread sales Brumby’s Bakeries had to make sure they targeted locations near centre exits so people could get their bread on the way out. It wasn’t good enough to just have superior bread without additives, or trendy bready with a twist – location was also a make or break factor. Otherwise, shoppers determined that even though the Brumby’s bread was more interesting, better quality etc., the convenience factor to buy at the supermarket often won out.

It’s the same for professional services. You may be a great accountant and offer value-added services, but if you can’t be found or easily seen or it is harder to get to you via corridors and levels – you can easily be overlooked and by-passed in favour of a clearly seen and easily accessible practice. It’s that easy to be ignored and digital marketing won’t save you.

Here’s another example. Those nice fruit and vegetable shops that you often see near the exit in shopping centres are positioned there for a reason. There is no doubt that 9 times out of 10 their produce is a lot better than what the supermarket in the same centre has to offer. The small fruit and veg shop benefits from that prime location near the exit. They know people will pass by the shop on the way out and even though they may have come from the supermarket where they bought their main items they will see the nice glossy apples on display or remember something they have forgotten as they glimpse the produce on the way out to the car park. It is hard to overlook the ripe red punnets of strawberries compared to the tasteless and shrivelled ones the shopper may have come across at the supermarket. So the carefully located fruit and veg shop benefits from impulse buying and ‘forgotten items’.  

They also know that other shoppers will choose to buy what they need from the supermarket but will purposely leave their fruit and veg requirements to be purchased from the fruit and veg shop as they leave the centre. Again, placing their produce on top of their supermarket trolley where it remains undamaged. So, this business, like Brumby’s, rides on the coattails of the traffic that the anchor business (supermarket) brings in and carefully positions itself to take advantage of this. So, both Brumby’s and the fruit and veg shop are near a competing business (the supermarket) – but it’s not a problem, instead, it is a clear advantage.

Businesses can easily fail because of their poor location. As an accountant, you don’t need to be inside a shopping centre (as often rents are very high or dedicated to retail or food), but you can be on the outside or even just very close on a high exposure street where people regularly conduct their business or shop. You want your business to be seen often and repeatedly by the same target audience so they become familiar with your presence. Signage is a form of advertising and advertising works by repetition.