Selecting the "right" location for your firm
Location Vertical

Selecting the right location for your firm

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Whether you have been operating an existing tax and accounting practice for 20-30+ years, or considering opening up a new practice, the location of your business matters more than most accountants realize.

Choosing the right location is paramount for the long-term success of nearly all businesses. By all means, the physical office space for your accounting practice is not like a restaurant, real estate agency, or retail business where the exact physical location is critical.

If you want to acquire small business owners as long-term clients—rather than lots of 1040 individual clients—here are 10 reasons why your office location matters, along with tips for selecting the best space.

  1. Lead generation and growth—Your office location needs to be in close proximity to small businesses, because most small business owners fundamentally believe that if they have a messy tax- or accounting-related problem, they need to meet with you in person. This perception is often misguided, but their perception often becomes your reality. Your office location should provide you with the ability to meet with them in person if the need arises.
  2. Branding—Neighborhoods matter. The location of your accounting practice conveys an image. This image transfers directly onto your accounting practice. For example, an office located in downtown Manhattan vs. Hunts Point conveys a certain image. This applies to Baltimore vs. West Baltimore, Saint Louis vs. East Saint Louis, and Miami vs. Model City.
  3. Population trends—Population growth and declines are typically long-term trends, easy to research and relatively steady. In other words, the long term trends for businesses located in cities such as Buffalo, Detroit, Baltimore, and Cleveland have been consistent. Conversely, businesses located in Austin, Charlotte, and Phoenix have been booming. Population trends need to be factored into your office location selection.
  4. Tech hubs and innovation centers—Being located within a tech hub or in close proximity to an innovation center can have profound impacts on your accounting practice.
  5. Mass transportation locations—In many cities with mass transit, being close to a major hub matters. For example, being close to Grand Central and Penn Station in New York City matters. The same goes for key BART stations in San Francisco, MARTA stations in Atlanta, ferry locations in Seattle, and train/bus stations in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
  6. Commercial vs. homebased Business—If your goal is to acquire small businesses, then having a commercial office in close proximity to other small businesses is essential. By all means, the office can be tiny and seldom visited. However, you’ll wan to create the perception that your office is in close proximity to where other businesses are located so that Google, Bing, and Yahoo recommend you.
  7. Google My Business profile and online reviews—Supporting your business with online reviews and developing a reputation as one of the best tax and accounting firms in town is very difficult if you have a virtual- or residential-based practice. Google has made it extremely difficult for residential-based businesses to compete with commercial businesses. And no, the P.O. Box trick will not work either!
  8. Empowerment zones, HUBZones, enterprise communities, and foreign trade zones—The decision to locate your office within a zone and/or enterprise community is less clear. Clearly, direct investment is being made to spur economic development and jobs, but whether this is your best location is difficult to generalize.
  9. Traffic noise—Many commercial businesses are located in sections of town that are undesirable for residential homes. For example, many commercial businesses are located relatively close to highways and mass transit, while residential homes like quiet settings.
  10. Retail office location—If you want lots of 1040 tax clients, this might matter. Otherwise, you don’t want a retail space.

All too often, accountants select an office location that is close to home for convenience. However, selecting a community for residential ownership is typically at odds with communities ideal for commercial locations. In other words, great residential communities typically have great schools, low crime rates, and tend to be unfriendly to businesses based on zoning restrictions. Often, areas with high concentrations of businesses are densely populated, have parking issues, and higher crime rates.

For most, the best location for acquiring small business clients will be a commercial based office in close proximity to high concentrations of small businesses, instead of in the town where you bought a home to raise a family.

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