Since 2002 Comaskey have been involved in cafes, hairdressers, estate agencies, retail units, wine/internet and more – all very different and choosing the location has always been a key ingredient. Since we moved here all those years ago, the number of people coming to Spain to open their own business dramatically reduced over the years. Now, with the increase in the property market here, the entrepreneurs are coming back; gyms, clinics and service businesses are all popular again with our overseas potential investors, and so is the real estate business itself.
If you wish to open a business in Spain, regardless of the sector, there are a few points we think you must consider in order to increase your chances of success.
1. Rent or buy.
In an ideal world, every business owner will have a chance to eventually purchase their building or office if they turn it into a huge success. I particularly like “rent with an option to buy” contracts. It means if I do not fall in love with the location that I choose for the business, I´m not stuck to it and I can move to a bigger or better location in the future. This is something you can negotiate with the landlord and of course your estate agent can do it for you. Check your figures in advance when buying.
If you are opening a doctor’s clinic or pet grooming business, walk by trade or footfall is not so important. If you are in the property business or retail you must have eyes on your front door. A client during the week told me that estate agents in the UK are moving away from high street stores and going internet only. In Spain, property buyers need help and want to look the seller in the eye. Yvonne in La Zenia travel sells cruises because of that reason – people see her and Laura and want to ask them questions. Clients will in many cases pay a bit more to actually have the opportunity to build a relationship with the professional they are dealing with.
Who is your client? Are you selling surf boards or snow boarding equipment? La Zenia commercial centre is probably not the place for you. If you are selling pensions to affluent individuals, then yes – its perfect. Are there a sufficient amount of the local population who have interest in your product and have the money to buy it? Is your business seasonal? Hairdressing, property and finance are year round industries – ice cream selling is not. Just because you have a bus full of clients walking past the door in August, does not necessarily mean they´ll be there in December.
Perhaps you are looking to open a business where competition is healthy? Take the car dealerships in Torrevieja or every major town in Spain for that matter, once one dealer opens, their competitors rather than get further away, open the unit next door. It means I can test drive an Opel and Toyota without having to go looking for either – they are side by side.
Its often the same for the bar industry; f you open next to a popular bar, you will get their overflow without any marketing effort. If you are opening a real estate office and you are good at your job, open where the other guys are. Clients these days love to shop around.
5. Proximity to other complementary businesses.
Our Malaquita office is right beside the La Zenia notary, Iberdrola, Sol Bank, dentist and across the road from Mercadona. We get so much walk in trade for this very reason. If you´ve just bought a house in La Zenia and you need a property management company and see our sign, well – where are you going to try first? Its up to us to help the client make a good decision of course but once we have them coming in the door, we´ve got a great chance.
The Orihuela Costa town hall has some funny ideas as to who gets licences to do what. We have a restaurant/bar situated ON TOP of a roundabout in Campoamor and a child care centre situated on a busy road connecting La Zenia to Villamartin. I can’t see the logic, but then again I´m not an engineer. My advice… before you sign any rental or purchase contract check what the limitations are for that specific unit.
I´ve had client go for units because they were cheap or because they are getting three months rent free; that’s no good if the unit is in a rubbish location and you are totally dependent on foot all. A bar that is 500 metres away from where it needs to be might as well be 500 miles away.
A good location for a real estate company can be invaluable. We opened a Comaskey office on the corner of Calle Flores in January of this year (2016) and already we´ve picked up four or five sales just to walk in clients who would never have heard of us had they not seen our displays and signs. Its an expensive location, possibly the best most prominent office in La Zenia, yet its well on the way to having paid of itself after just a few months.
Another cost factor is whether or not the unit os ready to trade. Even fitting out a basic office can be costly. Perhaps the landlord will give you a reduced rent while you are doing the work? You´ve got to ask and you´ve got to factor this as huge deal breaker as to whether or not you go for one particular location.
Our Malaquita office, the one I mentioned close to the bank and notary, has very little parking. This could be a factor had we not so much parking in Mercadona. Also, people need to find parking to get to the bank, so they will already be parked before they get outside our window. There is another office on the Avenida Villamartin which I drive past which has absolutely zero parking. It’s impossible for clients to get to it, surely these potential clients will just find somewhere more convenient to do their business?
10. The history of the site.
If you are opening a bar where ten bars have failed there over the last decade, you are giving yourself a huge handicap right form the start. Local people will assume that your bar will be as bad as those which went before. If you are opening a real estate office in a commercial centre with no successful neighbours then again you are not making things easy for yourself. The only way this rule does not apply is if you are doing something new. A converted church makes a great trendy bar, an old warehouse makes a great Cross fit gym.
If you would like help choosing your new business location or indeed if you´d like someone to bounce your business idea off, we are here and always willing to help you to do so. We have many businesses for sale and lease around the area, most of them are not on our website as owners do not want their patrons to know they are selling. Please get in touch and we´ll help you with leases, legal work, taxation, business planning etc.