Location, Location, Temporary Location?
Kansas SBDC at KU
Brian Dennis and Will Katz
“Location, location, location.” If you’re in business, you’ve heard the mantra and know how important location can be to your success. And, if you’re in retail, you know it’s not only one of the most expensive decisions you make, but it can be the difference between the life and death of your business.
But have you heard the one about “location, location, temporary location”?
If you haven’t, ask Brad, Brian, and Courtney with The Taco Zone.
Familiar with the resources of the Small Business Development Center from a past experience, the team of Brad Shanks, Brian Ayers, and Courtney Shanks sought out and found the Kansas SBDC at KU and the team of Brian Dennis and Will Katz before opening their business.
“We needed to understand the process of getting a business opened in Lawrence,” shared Brad. “I had never started my own restaurant and we weren’t sure about how to exactly navigate through Lawrence’s codes and laws for small business.”
Together they worked with the Kansas SBDC using extensive market research to not only identify a location, but to develop a deep understanding of who their customers would be. The team invested their pre-opening time to develop a business plan with cash flow projections on which the business could build. They tapped into key lending referrals from the Kansas SBDC and worked on the process to approach lenders with their concept.
In 2014, they tested their restaurant with a pop-up concept located in the corner of the Replay Lounge, a bar located off of Mass and 8th Street in Lawrence, Kansas. And it worked.
Less than two years later (very quick in restaurant terms) they tackled their second challenge – a permanent location at 13 E. 8th.
How did it happen so quickly for The Taco Zone?
“Working with the Kansas SBDC has given us the confidence to know that opening a business isn’t such a daunting task,” said Brad. “Having someone available to bring us down to earth, helping us understand financing, and walking us through the loan process was what helped us open our first location and eventually move into our new space.”
The other Brian on this team, Brian Dennis, consultant with the Kansas SBDC at KU shared some of what he believes has contributed to The Taco Zone’s success. “Their decision to open a pop-up concept of their restaurant and wait for a solid market was the right decision to make the funding process a lot easier,” said Brian (Dennis). “The understanding of a younger target market helped them to hone their marketing concepts from the outset, even helping them decide that their first location would not be a brick and mortar, but a pop-up restaurant at a popular local bar.”
Dennis credits extensive research to not only understand the business’ customers but also establish a realistic set of financial projections as key to The Taco Zone’s success.
What does Brad credit as the key to The Taco Zone’s success? Planning and finding the right people to help you get started. And, what advice would he give to someone just starting a business today? Research everything. We know that includes researching the right location.