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Commercial location vs home page based shop

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by bigben, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. bigben

    bigben Moderator

    Sep 3, 2007
    Ok, this may sound like a stupid question, but I need some opinions.

    I'm a home base shop and I'm looking to move out. Right now, no customers come to my house, I always go see them.

    I'm considering to get a commercial location or built a shop on my new home. I have enough space and the location would be a good for my customers.

    My concerns would be to have some of them knocking on my door when the shop is closed. Right now some of them call me at 11pm because they have my cell phone number.

    So, what do you think?

    TXFB.INS Very Active Member

    Jan 5, 2012
    Lone Star State
    For me it would come done to the $

    working at home = cost to travel to/from customers, are you happy with the current amount of customers / workload?
    there is no separation of home / business and customers do not respect this ( the 11pm calls you get)

    Commercial location = how much overhead would it cost you, rent, taxes, utilities, internet, phones, office furniture, etc...
    can you take the extra workload from moving to a commercial location?
    do you have enough workload to pay for the extra expensive.
  3. bigben

    bigben Moderator

    Sep 3, 2007
    For the workflow part, yes I could afford the commercial location with all the expenses it come with it. But for the same amount of money per month, I would pay my home shop within 5 years.
  4. Sign Up Graphics

    Sign Up Graphics Very Active Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Sign Up Graphics

    I would pay my home shop within 5 years. but this is just me. :thumb:
  5. rjssigns

    rjssigns Premium Subscriber

    Jun 4, 2007
    Home Office
    Put the shop at your house with a separate driveway. Have the number you use now put in the shop and get a new number one for the house.
    We run the business out of our house and never have an issue with people stopping by unannounced. We also have our phone set-up with do not disturb. Shop phone doesn't ring, but still collects messages.

    If at some point you have issues with people coming to your house after hours you can gate the driveway.
  6. 401Graphics

    401Graphics Very Active Member

    I worked from home out of my garage. Then I moved to a very good retail location with the best visibility in a high traffic intersection (for 6 months). Then I decided I was not gaining many more customers to make up for the 1200 a month rent, so i moved back home. Except now the entire first floor is dedicated to the shop, (the first floor used to be a store front a long time ago before it was turned into a apartment). After my tenants decided to move out with very little notice, i decided to get out of the retail spot and move the shop downstairs and rip walls back down and open it up again. So now I Have no overhead besides a small electric bill.

    I also have a huge driveway here, and a large garage.

    So I guess the only way to find out is to try it out yourself and see if a retail spot will gain you more customers or not. Try to talk the landlord into a 6 month lease like i did.
  7. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

    Jun 18, 2004
    If home payed for or not build shop at home 1st.... if successful buy a commercial space.
  8. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    I am home based and there is no way after all this time I would go commercial. In the beginning YES! it was hard to separate home from work but as I got older it was very easy to do. The phones go off at 5. You dont have clients popping in to check on progress. I put all money back into myself not to pay rent to someone else. If I dont wanna work I dont have the hassle of closing shop.

    Im not bashing commercial just my 2 cents
  9. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

    Aug 28, 2007
    Before I bought the business from my grandparents, they had it out at their house. Large shop area, worked great for them. There was ALWAYS a problem with people stopping in at all hours to do business. I remember we never could eat dinner without someone stopping in and my grandpa having to leave the table, even when I was little. The other issue when I purchased the business before I moved out of that location, was all the grandkids would stop by with all of their kids, and they'd be out there bugging me riding bikes around and stuff when I was talking to customers trying to take a "more professional" direction with the business.

    Now on the other side I'm now in a downtown high visible area location. I think probably a few new customers have come from being down here, but probably not a ton. If I had to, I could set up at my house and build a shop, but it's not in a mega high visible area at all, and it's not real convenient. However, I could probably still survive if I had to based on my current customer base.

    If I could for sure survive, and I had room to build a building with a separate drive, I'd never get into the city. The people stopping by down here drives me nuts, and I'd rather just have the customers that call first instead of just popping in, because it interrupts me a lot, and I'm the only one here, so it's hard sometimes to drop what I'm in the middle of for tire kickers, or people wanting me to sponsor stuff, or buy stuff from their kids.
  10. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    I believe we all start out as a home-based business. Eventually, you need space or you just want exposure, so you look for a high prime visible location.

    I don't think visibility brings in more business, just tire kickers. Your competence is what brings in business.

    We kept a very low profile for about 18 years. Our first two locations barely had a postal address. We were tucked far away outta sight. We only wanted people who wanted signs coming by. It paid off for us. After we gained a nice reputation, we took on a place on a main road right outside the city limits. Our town has been a bad location and really only good for getting shot at, so we stayed away from downtown.

    Anyway, once we moved into a high visible location, we started getting bigger and bigger jobs.... like two and three times a month instated of one every two or three months.

    Next, we bought our own building about 11 years ago and it's once again somewhat tucked away, but we're in an easy access area and it's zoned light industrial/commercial.

    That last part is the part I don't understand with most home-based operations. How can you spray paint, paint by hand in volume on a business level and not residential, have trucks deliver, run certain machinery, plus other things needed in a commercial sign shop and still have residential zoning, insurance policies and just plain business capabilities ??

    I was always told, should something go wrong and you're not properly covered, that's when you'll find out your agent was giving you lip service.

    30 years ago, I was told if I had a problem.... like a fire or someone get sick from fumes, my insurance will suddenly not back me because I didn't have proper insurance and then the city would investigate and tell me I can't run a commercial business out of my home. My argument was that if I had paint or screen inks stocked in my basement or garage, it's no different then the normal home-dweller who has house paint in his home or garage. Nope, not so my friend. You see, commercial has to be held to a different standard than the average Joe who doesn't know a thing about this, but it's considered normal practice for a home owner to have this while a commercial business needs to have explosive-proof rooms, lights and higher insurances because we simply do it for a living.
  11. Jillbeans

    Jillbeans Major Contributor

    Dec 24, 2003
    Butler, PA
    I have a house on commercial property.
    I do have business, liability, and homeowner's insurance.
    I have hours posted on my fence, entryway and office door.
    I never give out my cellphone number, I have had the same land line shop phone number since 1989.
    Working from home has been very beneficial to me as a single mom raising three kids.
    I could never justify getting a commercial shop, especially as dead as this business has gone.
    But I always have regular hours, ect, and treat this place like a "real" sign shop.
    My vehicle is lettered and I have a website with pix of my work as well as a FB page.
    My goal is to eventually become a design-only and a specialty online sign seller.
  12. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    On an engraving forum, a guy was running a laser engraving business from his home. The laser was in his garage. He was cutting acrylic, left it unattended (if I recall correctly), and it caught fire and burned the machine to the ground. Seems like it did some mild damage to his garage, but nothing major.

    Called his insurance to file the claim and was told his policy didn't cover it. He tried several avenues and all of them failed.

    $20,000 machine down the tubes, gone.

    I agree, you really need to make sure, no matter what location, that you're covered.
  13. SD&F

    SD&F Very Active Member

    Oct 4, 2009
    If you dot all you i's and cross all your t's andf cover your A--, then do it from home.
    Make sure you have a different phone number, a different entrance and your hours posted clearly. Do not make an exception to the rule or it will rule your life as far as customers calling or dropping by. You need to clearly let them know this. Be sure you are covered by insurance like Gino pointed out. If you can do these things go for it, if not then you know what you need to do.
  14. signswi

    signswi Very Active Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Home based only if you're a niche specialist who can pick and choose jobs OR you don't have any aspirations of making good money some day. Otherwise commercial because you'll need to scale up quite a bit to get into good money in most areas of sign work.
  15. john1

    john1 Guest

    I am home based for the past 5 years or so and it's a constant struggle to stay busy. September lost me a lot of money, I have no idea if a retail location would help me but am not stable enough to find out.

    When it's good, it's good. When it's bad, man it's bad.

    I would love to stay working from home, If i can figure out how to get better exposure that is. I'm forced to plug away at my website getting the SEO working spot on with it and trying to keep connections rolling locally.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2012
  16. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    The way our business is now running I could never do it from home, even if I had the room.
    But if my business allowed or I was starting over and my property could handle it I would do a home shop in a heartbeat.
  17. 401Graphics

    401Graphics Very Active Member

    Here is my old commercial location in a very busy area. I was lucky to get 1 or 2 walk ins a week. Wasn't worth the $1200 a month rent. I guess I was doing something wrong, and i was there for only 6 months. You can see i also had a 5 foot wide EMC in the window on the right)
    Across the street were to big malls. and the main rd had every kind of business and restaurant imaginable! Also two highways were less than a 1/4 mile from the shop. Interstate 95, and 295

    (the sign with no face was for the first floor. eventually a flooring company moved in)

    Attached Files:

  18. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Not to sound mean, but if I saw that, I'd have no idea what the heck you do. 401 Graphics on the sign? What's that mean? Do you do graphic design for people? Do you make signs? I'd have no idea from looking at your location. Just because you know and understand it, doesn't mean someone driving down the road does.
  19. 401Graphics

    401Graphics Very Active Member

    The big EMC listed all my services, and better than a regular sign would have since the EMC attracts more attention, and is very bright.
    I dont take offence. The landlord was pretty strict on how much signage i could put up. And no matter what i did it would always look like it was a funeral home. lol
  20. 401Graphics

    401Graphics Very Active Member

    The best thing about that old location was I was getting free wifi internet from dunkin donuts and using their dumpster ahahaha

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