This post is going to depart from market and business intelligence for a bit so we can get to the heart and (nyuck, nyuck) sole of the matter of why you might be struggling to find the best retail real estate sites as quickly as you want.
Sometimes the easiest way to make a point is to take an idea, put it into a familiar situation, and then take it to an extreme. Instead of critiquing the process of retailers and restaurants finding sites, let’s imagine how the process would play out in something more familiar—in this case, buying a pair of shoes.
Before I start the shoe shopping comparison, first a disclaimer: Although there are many good, focused retail brokers out there trying their damnedest to find the best sites for their clients, there are still too many who don’t. Furthermore, some brokers simply are not given sufficient direction to help focus their clients on the sites that should be focused on. The result is a certain level of insanity. (Check out this video to see us poke fun at this.)
It’s Gotta Be the Shoes
Back to the shoes and how it compares the process many less diligent brokers follow: You go into a shoe store and say “I’m looking for some business casual shoes to wear to an outdoor corporate event in a size 8.” The salesperson goes into the back and returns with stacks of boxes in all styles and sizes. The shoes range from black dress shoes to sandals, and from shoes for the opposite sex to the perfect style you are looking for—but in a size 12.
Why is the salesperson doing this? Who knows? Maybe he thinks you’ll see something for your spouse and impulse buy it. Or maybe he doesn’t really understand what you asked for and are just trying anything, hoping to eventually stumble upon what you need. Regardless of the intent, this is a BIG time-waster.
The salesperson touts each pair of shoes and waits for you to reject it—which you do because you aren’t getting what you came into the store for—before moving onto the next pair. Clearly, this crazy salesperson is taking much longer than typical shoe salespeople would. Maybe he eventually gets to the pair you need, or maybe you walk out of the store frustrated … and still needing shoes.
Although this example is extreme and obviously silly, it’s closer to the truth on what often happens in retail real estate site tours—the broker wastes your time by taking you to locations that don’t have a prayer of being selected by you and your company. The broker is simply bringing out every box in the back, desperately hoping you may pick one even though it clearly doesn’t fit your needs.
Too Much Wasted Time
The purpose of my shoe story is to emphasize that much more screening could be done before brokers take reps on retail real estate site tours. The result would be fewer lousy sites clogging up the deal funnel. With higher-quality sites from the start, the whole process is faster.
In our crazy shoe salesperson example, a half-hour trip to the store turns into a much longer process. In retail real estate site selection, this same sort of delay can and does happen, but people don’t question it because that’s the way it’s always been. In 2016, “always been” simply isn’t good enough.
Some companies are avoiding this problem by screening sites early, before reps arrive in town for their tours with brokers. As a result, these companies are getting to the negotiating table much, much sooner for the deals they want. That is a competitive advantage too significant to ignore.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go buy some shoes—and we all know how long THAT takes.