Many cities have home pages on the Internet. Many of these cities use these sites to promote their town. They use it to attract large corporations who will provide jobs and large retailers who will provide sales tax revenue dollars for city budgets. The first thing you need to do when surveying a town for a likely candidate for a company outlet is to visit their website and that you can do from where you are sitting right now. Websites can be great sources for general and statistical data. Here is some of the information you will find at these Internet sites: Upcoming City Events; Job Opportunities; Library Hours; How To Pay Water Bills; Statistical Data;
Basic City Information; Etc.
What you generally won't find on these sites is any information that may be negative to retailers, large employers or home-buyers such as, but not limited to: High Crime Rates; High Unemployment; Degrading Schools; Traffic Counts; Accessibility Of Transportation; HUD Information; Low Income Housing Areas;
This type of negative data is vital to your understanding the economics and future economics of the city and region, that you will have to find out from a look see in the area, a personal visit. These are things you over hear in local coffee shops talking with police officers, local business people and concerned citizens.
Many Chambers of Commerce have BBS Bulletin Boards or home pages on the Internet. Usually they offer incentives to membership by putting these new members on the Internet and giving them a listing on the chamber's home page. Generally, the information on these systems is of more value in site analysis and selection than the city's home page. This is because it is created by and for business people. It is also usually tailored to the small businessman and the large employer.
A few of the companies that collect data and run ESRI programs will make customized reports based upon criteria you specify and then search, sort and modem or fax the information to you in one hour or less. These companies include:
Thompson Site Selection Research, Inc.; Urban Decision Systems
Equifax National Decision Systems.
Equifax can give us demographic variables such as:
Total Households; Total Population; Household Growth/Decline;
Population Growth/Decline; Average Income; Median Income; Specific Income Ranges; Population By Race; Number Of Owners/Renter Units; Property Values; Age Of Population
Education Level Of Population; Occupations Of Labor Force; Number Of Vehicles
Equifax can also give us the following business variables:
Number Of Businesses (Automotive); Number Of Businesses By SIC Code; Competitive Businesses; Number Of Retail Businesses;
Equifax supplies this information in many different formats. By calling an 800 number, you can have an eight-page report faxed in three hours time. Maps can take a little longer. Equifax's latest software called Sparta-Site is PC based. Sparta-Site integrates demographic, consumer, expenditure, shopping center, highway and road data into one comprehensive package that provides automated site evaluations on any computer or laptop. Business data, mailing lists and sales contact data bases can also easily be incorporated with this site software.
To make this actual analysis easy for users, all information in Sparta-Site is pulled into site evaluation modules similar to those you will find from Urban Design Systems on the following pages. When analysis is complete, Sparta-Site produces a series of maps, charts and reports which allows us to quickly identify locations which offer us the greatest potential for high profit car washing before we set up route schedules for the franchisees. With this software, we can analyze an unlimited number of locations in our target regions and conduct an endless number of 'What if?' scenarios. This flexibility will enable us to select cities or areas that offer the most or least potential, compare demographic characteristics of multiple locations throughout a city, analyze past and future market trends, track rapidly growing markets and evaluate areas for the second, third and fourth locations to open in the future. You can also down load information from the U. S. Census Bureau at; http://www.census.com and all state government contracts which have been sent out to bid at; http://www.govt.dgs.com .
Certainly, market data cannot provide you with all the answers nor guarantee the outlets success. The process of determining which variables are important to us and which are 'nice to know' is part art and part science. In the last decade business owners, site selection specialists or studiers of demographics and economic vitality of regions have had the advantage of computer generated feasibility studies and it has certainly helped. The more we know about market characteristics, the better our chances of choosing the best areas that will contribute the highest profit to our outlets thus greatly enhancing their potential for winning in an extremely big way.
These techniques of real world site selection and study has helped our company tremendously and it can help yours also.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs