In A Site Survey Report, More Information Isn't Always Better

Whether you are new to the world of franchising or a seasoned franchisee, you likely understand that opening a new franchise is a complex and time-consuming process with many moving parts. It is critical to stay focused and moving forward on many fronts in order to get your doors open as quickly as possible. However, a common pitfall for new and seasoned franchisees, alike, is the tendency to get bogged down with information overload, which can be costly in terms of both time and money. A common place to fall victim to information overload is the site survey.

The site survey is an overview of the physical space a franchisee will buy or lease to build his or her new franchise. It provides information on several aspects of the location, from the exterior of the space to the interior of the space and everything in between.

In many cases, a space that the franchisee buys or leases has been occupied by another retailer. The new franchisee will likely remove existing fixtures and features in order to build out the space to the specifications of the franchise design requirements. Some site survey companies provide the franchisee with a report detailing every existing detail of the space, including fixtures and features that will be removed. Why? If an element is going to be removed, that information is unnecessary.

A 50-page report may look impressive and certainly appears to justify the cost of the survey, which typically ranges between $1200 and $2000. However, it is important for the franchisee to ask if it’s actually helpful to have more information, particularly useless information, about items inconsequential to their particular franchise.

Scientists and behavioral psychologists tend to agree that there is such a thing as information overload. In a study cited by The Motley Fool, researchers asked two groups of car buyers to choose between four cars of various quality. The first group was given four pieces of information, while the second group had 12 pieces. It turns out that the group with more information selected the best car only 20% of the time, while those with less information selected the highest quality car 60% of the time.

The moral of the story: While some information is good and necessary, there is a tipping point when information overload kicks in and makes it more difficult to discern quality information from the extraneous. Sorting out which information is valuable and which can be disregarded takes time and energy and pulls focus away from critical activities.

Having too much information in a site survey can be especially cumbersome, as delineating quality information from “noise” takes a certain amount of specialized knowledge in construction and engineering that most franchisees do not possess.

Is a 50-page report necessary when a 6- to 10-page report will provide all of the information one needs to move forward with a construction project? The short answer is no.

At Site Genius, we think that quality is better than quantity when it comes to information. Our site survey remains thorough, providing information on all major elements of a potential location, including the overall site, the interior space, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and gas information. However, we provide only the information that we know will be important to the franchisee and disregard the rest.

We are able to this by working closely with the franchisees and the franchise corporations. We obtain all available information about the franchise operation and store design before even starting a site survey. Armed with franchise prototype documents, design specifications, and other pertinent information, we are able to distill what exactly will be needed for the business to be operational. If we know that existing light fixtures will not be used in the new design, then we leave those out of the site survey.

So, when vetting companies to handle a site survey, be wary of those pulling out samples that look like they could be mistaken for an NFL playbook. If, instead, finished reports appear as though they can be read and understood in under one hour, that’s going to be the leading contender. Because honestly, time is the most precious commodity when starting a franchise. It is critical that franchisees stick to what they need vs. what they think they need.

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