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Finding the Perfect Real Estate


With all the work that goes into opening a business, finding the ideal real estate may be the most challenging part, because the process can take longer than a year in some cases, and many factors are beyond one's control.

Being a development/cities geek, real estate site selection is a story I’m very interested in as we shift our attention to our upcoming September issue. My first step was riding along with Jen Helm, director of Brokerage Services at Cushman & Wakefield | NorthMarq here in the Twin Cities.

Jen is great company, and clearly very good at her job. She told me about her latest project as we walked to her car, helping Which Wich expand across the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul market.

On the road, we talked about trends in the commercial/retail real estate market—it’s tight out there, and on pace to become even tighter as the economy continues its gradual ascent. She added that there’s still a lag in available, quality commercial space after builders dramatically throttled down during the lean years.

As we rolled through specific commercial zones in a few hot trade areas, she pointed out that seeing a vacant space often wasn’t the opportunity it appeared. Those spaces are often already spoken for—or soon will be. Getting your own space is easier with a broker, she said, because they have personal relationships with building owners and landlords, as well as other brokers that might be gunning for the same space on behalf of their own clients. These relationships can make the difference.

Rounding out my sourcing, Which Wich’s director of franchise development at Which Wich, Connie Alires, said securing a space is often uncharted waters for new franchisees that may have purchased a house or two, but has never had to compete on the even more competitive commercial market.

One of her primary pieces of advice is checking emotions at the door—specifically, not getting too hung up on one location.

“If you fall in love and get emotional about a location, if it does fall apart, it’s tough because you put your heart into just one location,” she said.

As somebody nervously wading into first-time home buying, I plan keep her advice in mind. We all want the perfect space, be it commercial or domestic, but as the old saying goes, you can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.


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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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