What’s the Walk Score for your business?

By Beacon Staff

All Realtors are the same, right? All restaurants are the same, right? Web 2.0 is just for geeks, right? Not so fast, Mary.

One of the first things you’ll hear from a real estate agent is “and look how convenient it is to schools and shopping…”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that online? You can.

I stumbled across a new tool that can give businesses are new way to differentiate themselves – particularly in walking communities and neighborhoods. It’s called “WalkScore”and it helps show how easy it is to find your business simply by walking down the street from their apartment, condo, home or office.

Keep in mind that a neighborhood could be a residential area in a small town, in a large city, or even in a business area that surrounds your cafe or other business. You dont have to be in massive walkable cities like San Francisco, Boston or New York in order for this to help your business.

Even in rural towns like Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Whitefish and Bigfork (and the rest…), the WalkScore has value because it tells people how close our business REALLY is to where they work, live and play. It shows your cafe, your real estate listing, your store, bar, your apartment complex or condo rentals, in relationship to the things around it.

Let’s look at the example below (you won’t see anything if scripting is turned off in your browser):

var ws_address = “217 Main Street, Kalispell, MT 59901”; var ws_width = “400”;

That place sure looks convenient, doesn’t it?

• Imagine the uses for your day care, cafe, apartment complex, dry cleaning store, etc.
• How would you use this to market this office space if it became vacant?
• How would you use it to make your business more attractive as a place to work?
• How useful would this be to a new college student and their parent when selecting a place to live?

There are a pile of uses for this. You’ve just got to think about it a bit. So let’s brainstorm a little.

Realtors can use it to show how attractive a neighborhood or a listing is by showing convenience to shopping, parks, schools, restaurants, etc. Saying “it’s convenient” is one thing, showing it is quite another – particularly when your buyer isn’t in the car with you. If your buyer is in Wolf Point and you’re trying to show them why a Flathead neighborhood is just what they need, WalkScore might help you get the point across to them – whether the score is high or low.

Interested in finding a condo, apartment or townhome for your aging retired parent? WalkScore would certainly like to see at a glance how close to essential services your short list of places might be. Retired folks cling to their independence, and for good reason. A coffee shop, café, grocery or hardware store within short walking distance of their new place might make a substantial improvement in their happiness. A little fresh air is good for the soul.

Someone considering a vacation in the valley might use this to choose the most convenient bed and breakfast to cafes and shopping. Others might use it to find a bed and breakfast that is far from such conveniences so they can stock up on a much needed dose of peace and quiet.

Last but not least, someone looking at several locations for a new business might get a much-needed visual of the prospective locations, particularly if their business depends on foot traffic. An area already oriented toward walking clientele might be just what they need – or what they don’t need. This overhead view can help.

PS: I don’t know these guys from Adam. Not sure how they plan to make a buck from this, but it is a handy little tool. Tell me how you think it can help your business.

Got a business or marketing question you’d like Mark to write about or just want more info about him? See Mark’s site or contact him at [email protected].