How to pick your quick service spot: tips for QSR site selection
How to pick your quick service spot: tips for QSR site selection

Experts weigh-in on what to consider when looking for restaurant real estate

So, you’ve decided to open a quick service restaurant. You agonized over what brand to go with, fought for financing, and it is time to get serious about real estate. But what should you be looking for when it comes to the most important question- where will your restaurant go?

Site selection is critical when it comes to opening a QSR, so we here at 1851 Franchise looked to some experts in the field for advice.

The first things to think about, according to Indiana FranNet Consultant Mark Roger, are visibility, ease of access, and the foot traffic of a location.

“In 2016, it’s a question of visibility, convenience and population density,” said Roger. “Fundamentally, you need to consider what you will be serving – breakfast, lunch, or dinner - which will impact location selection significantly.”

And as an expert in franchising, Roger also recommends taking the advice of those who have done it before.

“If it’s a franchisor that makes site recommendations, take one of those suggested sites,” said Roger. “The franchisor typically knows their market best."

Adam Cozzolino is a new franchisee with Smoothie King who just went through his own site selection process, and he agrees that listening to the experts is important.

“I originally only found one in-line store option, which was in a very promising shopping plaza in Hickory, North Carolina, but I knew I really wanted a drive-thru,” said Cozzolino. “Then my real estate manager found a drive-thru location where the road happened to run directly into Hickory High School and it was right around the corner from Lenoir-Rhyne University. That made the decision to choose very easy.”

Though he had help in finding the right location, Cozzolino warns that there are still some pitfalls to be weary of, especially when it comes to pushy real estate brokers.

Said Cozzolino, “Be patient, be persistent, and have faith that you will find the right location. Taking your time choosing a location is very important so you don't rush into a bad deal or a bad location. Also, don't let a broker rush you into making your decision on their property. Brokers will always tell you someone else is interested in the space.”

Mark Roger has seen his share of business owners go through the process, but still he says there is no right or wrong location or single way to go about finding your site. There are, however, resources available that might make the decision easier. In Indiana, for example, he says regional Indiana Small Business Development Centers (ISBDCs) offer business counseling and demographic information (including populations, household income, and the locations of other restaurants) most often completely free of charge.

But with all this good information available and help from an experienced franchisor, often the most important choices still come down to something much less scientific.

Said Roger, “At some point you have to select your location among the sites available to you – and sometimes that final decision is based upon instinct.”