You’re no doubt familiar with the old adage about the three most important things in real estate being location, location and location. It sticks around because however hackneyed, it is without question true. Accounting firms don’t rise and fall based on geography alone, by any means, but they should still put substantial thought into the geographic aspects of the business and how to maximize them for the firm’s greater success.
While your firm’s location isn’t necessarily unmutable, in practical terms, moving is a logistical and financial (not to mention emotional) nightmare, so let’s not even consider it as a possibility. You are where you are. Now what can you do to make the most of your location?
- Make it easy to find. People have varying ways of processing and storing geographic information. Some adore maps and some are addicted to their GPS, while others might rely on context, using a series of familiar landmarks. How can you help office visitors with all these styles and more? Offer them everything! Your physical location is a very important point of business to communicate, so don’t be shy about offering this information. You absolutely need an interactive map on your website – one that allows site users to zoom in and out at will. Include your street address on your business cards, brochures, web pages…just go ahead and put it on everything. It’s also helpful to provide a simple description of your location (e.g. “1 mile inside 285 on Ponce de Leon” or “third building on the south side of Druid Hills, just east of Clairmont” where it fits nicely. You want to help those who might benefit from your services form a mental map of your position in space, as a way to solidify your presence in their minds.
- Make it easy to get there. Unless you have a side business in construction there’s not a lot you can do with major infrastructure like parking and buildings, but you can still help these elements do their best for you with simple strategies like:
- Large, easy-to-read signage visible from the street
- Easily identified paths to clearly marked parking spaces
- Clear, well maintained labels on buildings and doors
- Comfortable waiting areas
- A guaranteed welcome from someone who notices and seems to care when anyone enters the office
- Flowers outside, clean walkways, well kempt landscaping, plants inside, good lighting, fresh air (that doesn’t reek of chemical air fresheners) and all the other little touches that make a place feel pleasant rather than oppressive upon entering. The goal is to make people happy to arrive, not relieved when they leave.
- Make yourself at home. Even if most of your current clients drive to reach your office, becoming an integrated and valued part of the neighborhood is good business. Meet your neighbors by walking around (yes, outside!) and get in the habit of asking them to lunch once in a while. Host a barbecue or an open house with cake, watermelon or wine. This doesn’t need to be a big, expensive event, just a fun and casual way to make local connections and be remembered fondly. Hand out healthy treats to Trick-or-Treaters. Invite a pet rescue organization to host an adoption event in your parking lot. There are hundreds of creative ways you can take advantage of what’s special about your site or situation to build community and respect as a friend and neighbor. This is often the basis of new business, in addition to making life and work more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Obviously, these are only starting points for maximizing your location. The three principles listed above should be adapted and expanded for your unique geographic niche. The critical point is that you realize your accounting firm’s location in the physical landscape is just as meaningful as its position within the professional space. Once you’re thinking in those terms, it’ll be only natural to begin identifying limitless ideas for making that location work to benefit your firm.