The following is a transcript from a training with Clay Clark (US Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year) and Braxton Fears (Co-Founder of Fears & Clark Realty Group, Venture Capitalist) addressing how to find the right home for your business on Thrive15.com, one of the elite business schools in Florida!
Clay Clark: One of the things I've found is you'll have these spaces that you'll drive from the road, my wife and I will be driving down the road, we're driving with the five kids in the car just trying to maintain sanity, and we look and we gaze and we try to see. We're like, What is this over here? Then we quit looking and we never go by. We just drive it, What is that place on yonder? Then we don't ever go by.
Braxton Fears: Yeah, and the advantage ... There's going to be an advantage to you, also, though, if you don't need that frontage area, and you are, maybe a somewhat industrial or office type of use, and you want flexibility, if you find, like kind of the way you did with your house, where you call up that builder that's figuring out a place that they can't sell, if you can figure out a place that maybe a landlord can't lease, and you get some flexibility, you're not having to sign a five year lease, but you get the kind of space that you need, and you can do a month-to-month, or you can do something where you get an out in your lease, you pay a penalty to get an out, then that allows you ... Those kind of things allow you to take steps rather than leaps.
Clay Clark: Okay. Every one of these properties we're identifying does have a few ...
Braxton Fears: There could be an advantage for you if your situation fits that.
Clay Clark: The final one here. The chronically vacant, overbuilt restaurant that no one can see from the road, class A, standalone building. In Tulsa we have a place, on kind of that restaurant row, and it's over there by the mall, and it ... I think it used to be like an Applebee's, and then it was like a some other kind of steakhouse, and it's right over there by ... and it's always ... Then it's like a steak place. Then it's like a ... But it's always ... What is the deal with that?
Braxton Fears: What we're seeing with trends in the restaurant business is that the smaller square footage makes the money. There's a little sweet spot, and a little ... Years ago, they built bigger restaurants that fit more people, and that sold cheap food. Now that people are more conscious of what they eat, that smaller environment works. That's why you see those large steakhouse kind of buildings. When those chain restaurants do go out of business, it's very hard to fill up that building, because most of the restaurant models now just don't make money in that big environment.
Clay Clark: There is a place in Tulsa I was trying to sketch a little, but it's a super elaborate building. It was a steakhouse with this like log cabin motif going on here.
Braxton Fears: Yeah, that used to work.
Clay Clark: Then it was there, it was ... Then finally they just blew it up. I mean, they literally blew it up. They knocked it down, because they could not lease it. I want to say this building might have been like 15,000 square feet, just to be specific, and everybody kept leasing and leasing and leasing it. You're saying the smaller restaurant is the one that works.
Braxton Fears: Just to give you a frame of reference, a Chipotle model is the most successful model in the restaurant business right now. It's the casual fast, and they ... That space with kitchen and everything is no more than 3000 square feet.
Clay Clark: Bam. You heard it here folks, Braxton Fears. This guy knows his stuff. It's unbelievable. Now we're moving on to property type number four. Okay? We're moving into multifamily.
Braxton Fears: Okay.
Clay Clark: This type of property can look like a duplex or a large apartment complex.
Braxton Fears: Right.
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Clay Clark: Braxton, would you recommend that an entrepreneur offices out of this type of environment, ideally?
Braxton Fears: Well, not offices, no. This would be for the business owner that is a real estate professional if they're going to buy a multitenant, multifamily, investment. They can be good investments, but as a tenant, unless you're going to live in an apartment building, that's not a place that you want to spend time on.
Clay Clark: Could you explain to me why brides and grooms, and potential corporate clients, were reluctant to meet me in my ... for a consultation in my apartment?
Braxton Fears: Yeah, because it's sketchy. That's weird. Now, of course, starting your business out of your home, that's a step. I'm always in favor of a step, and having a home office to get your business going and have it going, but if I remember correctly, you started meeting people at Panera Bread, and you took that step. Then you figured out the next step after that. But if you call people to your apartment to meet with you, they're going to be sketchy with you.
Clay Clark: It, kind of, leads me into this, because when I was in my apartment, I used to suggest that people would meet me at McDonald's ...
Braxton Fears: Yeah, yeah.
Clay Clark: ... before I discovered Panera. If you are in a situation where financially you cannot afford an office, you cannot afford industrial, you cannot afford any payment outside of your cost of living, I mean, you cannot afford any building at all, would you recommend you meet people at Starbucks or Panera? Because ...
Braxton Fears: Yeah.
Clay Clark: ... in commercial real estate you meet people everywhere. Would you recommend you do employment set up at Panera? Is that okay?
Braxton Fears: Sure. It's okay. It's not something that's probably going to be sustainable for a long time, as you grown, but that's a good first step.