Right time to move to better location?!?!

Hi all,

I’m finally at that critical juncture… is it time to move to a better location or risk operation 2 locations? I’ve been in business nearly 15 years and have outgrown my space. With no major anchors we’ve been forced to spend extra money to advertise/draw more (and new customers) in.

A leasing agent from an amazing shopping center approached me and essentially offered me everything I could ask for… build-out money, 12 months free rent, 1 mile exclusivity, etc. - all before I even began negotiating. When is the right time to make the call? Sell my current location and make the jump or risk operating 2 simultaneously? It’s hard enough finding reliable help for 1, so attempting 2 doesn’t seem to be realistic. I’d really appreciate any and all feedback!

Thanks in advance,

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the reality that you can, essentially, do it all everyday w/ 1 location.
Once you hit 2- that is no longer possible. 3 is the worst- not enough of you to make much of an impact at any of the 3, where with one you can do it all and- even with 2- you can do a lot… if needed.
We used to say 1-2 was easy, 3-4 was a nightmare, and 5+ was easy again as you could hire a supervisor or, at the very least, have a larger pool to take people from.
That was probably more lengthy than it had to be!
How does the plaza ensure exclusivity?

Sounds like it’s time to sit down and draw up a list of questions … then, the answers will likely provide at least one good answer to the question. My first reaction is to the opportunity from the prospective new landlord … you need to evaluate that location in depth (local demographics, etc), but you also shouldn’t let a good opportunity slide too long, because the offers there could be withdrawn without notice, or if another tenant says yes before you do … do your evaluation, and then act accordingly, but promptly too.

Here are a few questions I think you could pose to yourself about the situation: 1) does your current location overlap the possible new location? 2) If they overlap, how much business from “Location #1” could be lost to the new spot if both remain open, or if you were to sell #1?, 3) Do you have more years remaining on your existing lease?, 4) If you move (and sell #1) can you generate the same or more profit from #2?, 5) Is there someone who could assume a managerial position (build in this new cost to your analysis), including staffing duties at #1 while you take on the managerial duties at a new place?, 6) if you operate 2 spots, do you have the inital capital (or capacity to borrow) for the buildout and equipment costs for a new spot.

These are just a few questions that come to mind … I’m sure others here will offer their thoughts as well.

we have helped a great many operators to grow from their first location to several locations some have grown to 500 or more shops.

If you decide to expand we would be happy to do plans for you
George Mills

Thanks for the response!
The second (potential) location is far enough away (roughly 8-9 miles) that it wouldn’t overlap my current business. As for my current lease, I have 2+ years left and have already begun re-negotiating for another 10 (5+5). I figured I’d do so just in case selling #1 was my decision. The foot traffic is infinitely better than what I have now and the demographics are also much better and in my favor. For the “1 mile exclusive”, the current (new) ownership owns 3 other properties in the surrounding area - none have mom & pop pizzerias, only national chains which have never affected me. The exclusive essentially guarantees no other mom & pop pizzerias will open on their properties.

As I mentioned earlier, they’ve offered me $70K in build-out costs plus 1 year free rent, with the possibility (I know “possibly” means zip until it’s in writing) with an additional 3 months free rent after we open for business.

I guess my biggest fear is that without me being in control over location #1, it’s only a matter of time before the day-to-day mistakes will get out of control and destroy what I’ve worked so hard to build. My staff is capable when I’m there directing them but as soon as I step away for more than a day or two… it’s a mess.

After all these years, I just don’t feel as though I can take this location much further. Im not complaining - I’d just hate to walk away from a great opportunity with much more potential to grow.

Again, I truly appreciate the response(s) and look forward to hearing back from you!


Thanks for the response! My biggest concern is (and I’m sure it’s common with everyone) is my lack of dependable employees. I’ve paid minimum wage, medium wage and wages that were waaaay higher than any of my local competition… all with the same results. I can’t do much more with my current location as we have very limited space - I’m just afraid to sell and begin again (it’s just in my nature to over-analyze and be paranoid)!

The plaza ensured me exclusivity within the shopping center AND for their other properties within 1 mile. Sounded like a crazy request but they agreed.

Thanks again for the help!


Food is a subjective thing and we all go about it our own way. You stated “mom and pop”. To me that means artisan and employees need to have years experience to do it right and things have been passed down through the generations. There is no way to run this concept at multiple locations unless you have lots of children that you trained from birth in your system. Even then it can go haywire. We are a mom/pop with my wife and I onsite/actually working making the products all hours of operation and prep. I guess you have to be willing to let your product slip when opening multiple shops cause no one is going to love it/have the skill like you do. Finding help as you said would terrify me unless the operation is pretty much chain fast food like in the skill base needed to make the pizza. It sounds like you are not this way or you would be excited about opening another shop? Good luck. Walter

You’re absolutely correct Walter. We began asa small, neighborhood pizzeria and grew over the years. Admittedly, I didn’t know enough (in the beginning) to evolve my systems to accommodate our increase in sales. I worked my butt off (most weeks were 90+ hrs). I got to a point where I realized that I was worth more to the business when I wasn’t there. Yes, there were, are, and always will be mistakes when the owner isn’t present. I’ve had to accept the fact that nobody will care about things as much as I do - I just can’t let that stop me. My biggest concerns are the no-shows, bogus emergency call-outs, theft…etc. I figure if I’m going by to always need to be ready for an emergency, better to be in a location that justifies the headaches. Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong… I’m all ears at this point.

Thanks again for the input,

Patrick: I work 60 hours a week but we are open limited hours with a limited menu. Still we are packed most all our hours as people are willing to come for a pie they feel worth the inconviences our model presents. Labor/food waste/ rent, is low, prices high, menu is very simple, so we make a pretty nice living with being open only 23 hours a week. I guess you have to weigh out all the added emotional/physical expenses of having 2 spaces vs. the 1 shop model. Worse case scenario is it doesn’t work and you move on. We are blessed to be able to fail and get back on our feet.

I’m glad things are going so well for you! I think the simple menu/limited hours are definitely the way to go. I have a feeling things will fall into place - I’m just not one to pull the trigger (on anything) without thinking it through a thousand times over. Thanks again for reaching out - I hope things continue to go well for you buddy.

You do have to understand (not Patrick- all of us) that things will not be the same, the caring will not be the same, etc when we are not there. But, if you can get close… that’s enough, I think.
Not sorta close… really close. But still not the same.
And you do have to have systems in place to ensure that if that’s the goal.
I just opened this shop and know that if I want to get outta here, I need to have a pic of what every pie should look like so that somebody can look at it and say “Ok, got it” if I’m not here.
Or a chart that says " 5 oz meat on each Panini"
I know what I need- and if I get to that point in sales… and we make it… I’ll do that stuff.
For now… one man band.
For Patrick- shop #2 needs lots of pics in the kitchen showing how he makes a Meatball Sub; One showing the roll, one showing the roll w/ 3 meatballs, one showing the sub w/ sauce, etc and then a final build pic.
Now, if he gets his brother at that shop, or does find some fantastic people… maybe a few less pics.