In Real Estate, all Internet is Not Created Equal
If you are considering buying, leasing or renting real estate for your business, you're probably aware of the critical elements to consider. You’ll be smart to look at the property’s physical condition, it’s allowable uses (zoning), limitations on exterior and interior (zoning, building codes, covenants), adequacy of access/parking, and opportunity for expansion or sub-leasing. All are important. When all is said and done, though, we all know the top three considerations: Location, location, location.
This adage was intended to convey the message that location was the ONLY consideration. According to The Yale Book of Quotations, The Van Nuys (Calif.) News was the first to print ‘the three most important things about real estate are location, location, location’ in its issue of June 10, 1956. I believe, as do most, location still holds the top spots for multiple reasons, but one of those reasons may surprise you. And currently, it’s one you can’t ignore.
Location is all about convenience, giving your business the opportunity to best serve customers. And you can’t ignore convenience for employees, vendors and suppliers. Their access to your location can both directly and indirectly impact the customer experience. But, ah, we’re not just talking about the PHYSICAL location of a business anymore, are we?
Something else may either be or become THE most important element of your business’s location. This new element is the availability of quality / high-speed internet. Customers and buyers have more information and power than ever before. They are engaging businesses ‘in-person’ far later in the purchase process, if at all. Most are either researching products and services online before leaving their homes or businesses, or never leaving and simply buying with a click. I’m not submitting that you should abandon your brick and mortar facility. I’m just saying that your proximity to a fast internet highway is as important as your proximity to highways traveled by cars. Soon enough, it may be more important.
Keep these things in mind when shopping for the right location
While the internet is ubiquitous (you can get access just about anywhere), not all connections to it are created equal. The download and upload speeds are dependent on your carrier and your location. That’s right. Where you are can handcuff your business by limiting the speed with which your customers, employees, vendors and suppliers access your business.
You may be able to get a DSL connection lots of places, but with painfully slow upload speeds and unreliable connections, you may need to buy/rent/lease somewhere else. With poor internet speeds, it would be the equivalent of locating your retail business in the woods off a dirt road.
Next is cable. It’s not great, but with download speeds of 20 to 100 Mbps or more, you’ve upgraded the location of your business to the equivalent of a tertiary side-road. Latency can be a problem and speeds can vary depending on traffic load. Distance, as well as susceptibility to weather, power outages, interference from electrical equipment and power lines, means your business stays in peril. Buy/lease/rent here at your own risk.
Finally, fiber, the king of internet access with the potential of download speeds that will make your head and cash register spin. Since fiber optic cables transmit data faster and provide a consistent upload and download speed, they’re better suited for long distance communication. Most people do not realize that fiber powers much of the internet. There is no electricity involved, so it’s less likely to go out during a power outage. And fiber is made of glass or plastic, so it’s less susceptible to interference from power lines, electrical equipment, or lightning.
The message? Buy/lease/rent a facility with access to a fiber internet connection. It’s the equivalent of locating your business on the Autobahn with your own off-ramp, lots of close parking and a convenient drive-through. Before you sign a lease or purchase a building, don’t take a real estate agents word or rely on a brochure that highspeed internet is available. Verify the quality of high speed internet that is available by checking with your carrier that can service your building. It can save you the pain and suffering trying to operate a business on life support.