Growth / Planning & Strategy

A Practical Guide to Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

Twilla Grissom, Shabbir Moosabhoy, Philip Piletic, John Rampton & Ron Smith

Updated: Oct 28, 2021 · 12 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

brick-and-mortar storefronts

Once you have a business plan, name, and product or service, it’s time to select a place to do business from.

It’s all about location, location, location.

Before you lease that business space, storefront, or office, there are many decisions that go into selecting the right place.

How to choose your business location

Business type

The type of business you operate significantly impacts the location. If you are a retailer or restaurant, you want to consider what part of town gets you the most foot traffic. What fits your style? Depending on the size of your retail business and what you are selling, you might even consider a kiosk location.

If you run a traditional service-based business, then you will want to consider locations in commercial buildings. However, nowadays, you can also choose co-working spaces or your own home.

Customer preference

Your customers and prospects will also determine your company’s location.

For some clients or customers, proximity to you is very important. A client may want or need to come to you to get what you are offering. Other types of business can be mobile in nature, such as a hairdresser, pool cleaner, repairs, gardener, etc.

Still, other types of businesses may cater to both those who want to visit the store and those who shop online.

Another group of businesses may never need to see their customers or workforce. These businesses can operate completely by remote with no emphasis on location.

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Safety and accessibility

If your customers, vendors, and suppliers, and employees need to come to you, then you will need to consider other factors. You'll want to address such issues as safety, accessibility, traffic, and parking.

These factors will be part of the customer experience. Clientele will determine how well your vendors and employees feel about working with you as well. Accessibility is also important.


Proximity to the competition is also critical. You don’t want to be next door to another restaurant or retailer that offers the same thing. This will become a marketing and strategic nightmare not to mention confuse your customers and create pricing wars.

Sometimes it is best to be the only type of business in the general area offering a certain product or service.

Rules and regulations

It’s important to ensure that you can do business in a particular place. This means checking with the city or county about any types of zoning restrictions. Are there ordinances that prohibit your type of business in that area?


Amenities in certain areas are critical to business success. For example, certain businesses may not have updated their technology for the type of equipment you use. Does this new area have the fiber optics you need to maintain a certain internet speed?

You may require other features in your new business operations. An example would be refrigeration, storage, and heating and cooling options. Some buildings don't have these capabilities.

Costs and budget

Overhead costs should be kept as low as possible. That means considering how much the utilities will cost or whether you have access to solar to keep your bill down.

You don’t want a space that is too big for your business size. However, you want a location where future expansion can be accommodated. All of this comes with a price, but don't blow your entire business budget for the location.

Once you have narrowed down these factors and have a better picture of what area would be best suited to your business. Now it’s time to proceed to set up that space so you can launch and start doing what you love.

Optimize signage

People tend to make up their minds about someone or something within the first 30 seconds of the initial meeting.

Since your brick and mortar business signage is usually the first thing that people see, it needs to create a great first impression.

When it comes to retail signage, blending in is a bad idea. You want to stand out from the crowd with imaginative and creative signage. Look at the nearby competition and businesses.

Check out the color schemes and signage they use to see how you can gain an advantage with a contrasting color scheme. Strike a balance between creating a distinctive look for your signage without making it appear garish and unpleasant. Choose a design that is in line with the area, yet shows how unique your business.

It is certainly acceptable to make your signage dramatic, and even make it oversized; if it is appropriate to the message you are trying to convey, however, you want to attract attention for all the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

Avoid compromising on materials. Low-cost signage sends out the wrong message. For a high-quality look, go with aluminum letters. Substrates tend to drive the cost up, but they also greatly improve the look and durability of the sign.

Your signs should help people find you, which will enable you to build your business. By creating a logo and a look using colors and a consistent design, people will know what you are all about, and they will be able to share what you do with others.

Mobile marketing for your business

Next, let's go over the basics of how a brick-and-mortar business can harness the power of mobile marketing to maximize branding and sales opportunities.

We're entering a phase where the mobile market is reaching maturity. In 2014, we saw mobile usage overtake desktop usage in popularity.

Staff at the Pew Research organization found how to optimize for near me searches. They revealed that 74 percent of smartphone users over the age of 18 are using location-based capabilities on their phones to get directions or find needed local information. Search queries that include the keyword phrase "near me" have exploded in popularity. According to Google, users are performing 88 percent of all those "near me" searches on mobile devices.

How your business could benefit from marketing via a mobile app

There are numerous reasons you might want to consider creating an app for your business. Apps open up a whole new frontier of marketing opportunities that you'd miss out on otherwise, including an expanded range of location-specific features.


With geofencing technology, you can send offers, coupons, sale notifications, or similar marketing messages to consumers who are approaching your store. This technology has the potential to completely revolutionize the effectiveness of your marketing.

Some marketers are taking the concept of location-based marketing even further. In addition to marketing to consumers near their own store locations, some businesses are now engaging in the practice of aggressively marketing to consumers who are approaching their competitors' stores. This practice is known as "geo-conquesting."

Push notifications

Push notifications are another option that's popular with brick-and-mortar businesses. A push notification is a message that a business can mass-send to its users who have opted to receive them. For business owners, push notifications are appealing because they allow you to message your customer base even when your customers are not actively using your company's app.

There's an art to writing push notifications that convert sales. While this type of messaging can be effective in certain circumstances, you have to be cautious in selecting the information you choose to push.

In-app messaging

In-app messaging is a means to get the attention of your customers once they're actively using your app. These messages can be text-based, and they can also include images. There's no need to have your user base opt for in-app messages.

Encourage mobile payments in your store

Innovative retailers are setting up in-store kiosks to allow mobile users to research products and then pay for them using their mobile devices. Enabling self-checkout apps paired with services like Android Pay and Apple Pay can make it intuitive and easy for mobile users to pay for their purchases. Check out the payments options available to Keap users.

Learn more about the mobile marketing tools available to you

Now that you're empowered with a basic understanding of the technologies for optimizing your brick-and-mortar store's mobile marketing program, it's time to connect you with some of the tools you could use for making it happen:

  • Keap is indispensable for organizing your sales and marketing efforts across all channels—mobile and others
  • Foursquare is a leader in location awareness technologies
  • Google Drive API facilitates push notifications
  • Apple's iBeacon technology includes hardware and software for facilitating location awareness
  • PulsateHQ offers geofencing technology for marketing to your mobile app users

If you haven't already developed a mobile marketing strategy for your business, now is a fantastic time to get started. If you have one but it's missing any of these ingredients, implementing these suggestions could help your business develop a deeper relationship with your customers and hopefully increase sales, engagement, and loyalty as a result.

Once you have your business location, it’s important to ensure it is secure both physically and digitally.

How secure is your small business?

It doesn’t matter if you have a home office or storefront, physical merchandise, or intellectual property, theft or damage of resources can quickly put your company at serious financial risk. The costs associated with replacing or repairing these resources, or the downtime experienced while your business is unable to operate normally, can be devastating.

  1. Assess your risk: Complete an assessment to identify risks to your business. Once risks have been identified, you need to consider the impact that each one has on your business operations and rank each according to its impact on continuity. Once done, you can narrow your focus allowing you to only implement what you truly need. Once you’ve identified and rank the threats, you need to take action to decrease the risk. Eliminating a threat is not always possible, so focusing on lowering your level of vulnerability, you lower the risk of loss to your company. The final step is determining those security measures that provide the greatest impact.
  2. Add some surveillance: Adding a camera is not only a great countermeasure to theft, it is also very inexpensive to implement. Having an openly visible camera is a great deterrent to would-be thieves. Cameras also provide documentation if an incident occurs. They can help identify the perpetrators, as well as providing insight into re-examining your risks.
  3. Change your locks: Changing locks on your doors and cabinets is one of the easiest and cheapest things a small business can do to improve their security. Whenever possible, install high-security locks in areas where sensitive customer information is located. In cases of limited space, high-value data can be stored in locked cabinets, drawers, tethered cables, etc. Locks can even be added to existing cabinets, drawers, etc. if no lock is currently present. For the highest quality locks and installation, a professional locksmith can be employed. Locks and door mechanisms do not function properly should also be replaced or repaired. A defective lock or door provides little-to-no security. They are much easier for criminals to exploit, and employees are more likely not to use poor or malfunctioning locks.
  4. Controlling paper documentation: The first step to securing your paper documents is to classify them. Keep your classification system simple, with no more than four classifications.

Examples of different document classifications would be:

  1. Public: This type of information is not confidential at all and is typically used for public consumption. An example of this classification would simply be marketing or sales materials.
  2. Proprietary: This type of information would be restricted to only approved internal and external entities. Examples of this classification would be documented policies and procedures.
  3. Customer confidential: This is confidential information received from your valuable customers. An example of this type of information would be credit card numbers, medical data, or any other personally identifiable information (PII). This data should be restricted to approved internal access only.
  4. Company confidential: This is information that is used by your company to conduct business. Examples of this type are financial documentation or an employee’s personal information. This information would only be used within your company and restricted appropriately.

Once your documentation has been categorized, you should consider setting up document templates and incorporating the document classifications which will better enable you to monitor the circulation of your documents.

All businesses must protect their physical assets as well as those in the cyber world. A large part of running a successful small business is improving both its physical and cyber security posture.

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