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Archive for November, 2011

The Process and Hindrances of Retail Recruitment (Part 4 of 4)

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

Something probably needs to be said here about the political climate in communities since more and more local governments seem to not be able to get along or all get on the same page. Our firm works with all sizes of cities and all types of city governments. I can show you case study after case study and the evidence is overwhelming that unity in purpose and unity in vision sets a city apart from the pack. Elected officials have my utmost respect when they have the best interest of their constituents at heart. But when they are there with a personal agenda or after personal gain they should be recalled. Bottom line is this…political infighting and instability stops development. One of the foundational reasons our firm has been successful is that we believe in what we are doing. Recruiting retailers and restaurants to serve the needs of communities is good for cities. It is good in terms of generating and growing revenues, both sales tax and ad valorem, and it improves the overall quality of life in a city. If those governing your town are not interested in improving revenues and improving the quality of life of your citizens, you need to move.

Recently in a meeting with a city council, city staff, and EDC staff for a mid-size city, the EDC director said that over the past year their staff had sent over 250 letters directly to retailers asking them to come to town, and that out of all that work they had only gotten one reply back. I quickly asked what the reply was. The EDC director said that the one retailer that had replied simply said “No.” Retail and restaurant real estate departments get bombarded with city and chamber of commerce propaganda almost on a daily basis. Our network of retail and real estate relationships is open and receptive each time we call regarding potential new markets and are quick to direct us to their growth plans that involve our client cities. Furthermore, many retailers approach US about their growth plans for our perspective and opinions about where the most progressive and dynamic markets are. All cities have retail potential. They may not have the same potential, but they have some potential. Large or small, urban or suburban, micropolitan, or rural “one traffic light” communities…all cities have the potential to grow revenues and upgrade the quality of life for their citizens. Let us help you.

Contact us today to make a seemingly overwhelming task more manageable.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.

The Process and Hindrances of Retail Recruitment (Part 3 of 4)

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

What does the retail recruitment process look like? It looks like any other relationship based endeavor. The first key to success is to know who to contact, and preferably, have a good relationship with that individual or group. Lots of retailers have generic mail boxes where all real estate related correspondence is funneled. Good luck with that approach. Knowing the right person is the key to getting your city’s market data into hands that actually have the power to influence decisions. We know retailers, their corporate real estate people, and the various groups of brokers around the country that they use to represent them in growth markets. Sometimes one representative will be the contact for a large geographical area, other groups will have a team of brokers and site selectors working deals for a state or a region. The thing to remember is that they are people who are busy, have families, and go to work each day just like you and me. It takes patience to stay after them until you get a convenient moment to talk about new sites. You can contact them daily with elaborate marketing material for month after month, and you may never get your city on the radar for new development opportunities. On the other hand, one phone call or meeting at the right time, with the right person, can result in a successful retail deal for your community, with no marketing material involved. We’ve experienced it many times. Again… It’s all about relationships. We discuss retail sites and the markets of our client cities daily by phone, by email, and in person. We attend the ICSC conferences held around the country and introduce our clients directly to the retailers.

The recruiting process takes patience and tenacity. A retailer or restaurant may tell you that they have no interest in a market or a community at the beginning of a year and then six months later be aggressively trying to get into that area. A retail or restaurant entity may have limited real estate personnel and simply may not have the time to look at a specific deal or a specific market today, but will warehouse sites or locations for future growth or for the next development cycle. We interact daily with the retail world and those who make a living in this industry, and have proven strategies for getting communities pushed to the top of the lists.

Check back next week to find out what your city can do to encourage retail development.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.

The Process and Hindrances of Retail Recruitment (Part 2 of 4)

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

Any city that is interested in growing their retail base should take a look at how they handle the development procedure at the entitlement level. Over the last four years of serving cities in several states, one of the areas where there is always room for improvement is in the bureaucratic arm of the planning and community development department’s development and entitlement process. Our firm works with developers from around the country who tell horror stories of arbitrary and capricious treatment at the hands of an inspector or a planner that costs them time and money and causes serious delay to or in the worst case scenario, even the death of a project. Now please don’t think that I am against good planning and high standards of development. That is NOT the case. My job is to get the cities we are fortunate to work in ready to market themselves to sales tax producing retailers and restaurants, and one of the very worst positions a city can find itself in is to have the reputation of not being “development friendly.” What we are looking for is a balanced position where development standards can be held at a high level but there can also be a streamlined and efficient process where developers and investors are treated like customers and not treated like the enemy. Consider the amount of expense and risk a developer has in a new retail project, any city issues or slowdowns cost him time and money. The issues are different from city to city but no matter how perfect the setting is there will be issues. Whether its problems with the real estate, stormwater detention or retention, FEMA issues, topography issues, zoning and annexation disputes, sewer and water line problems, environmental / DEQ issues, limits of no access limitations; the list goes on and on. Local development philosophies do affect development. Cities that are geared and prepared for growth and development have a distinct advantage.

Something we often experience with cities is that they are shocked at the amount of time the retail process takes. We tell city officials who are really serious about retail development that they need to understand, from the very beginning, that the process is usually extremely slow and tedious. Most people really don’t get that point. If your city is not on the national radar currently you may be three years or more from actually seeing new retail and new revenue. If retailers have interest in your market and really want to get there, it still may take eighteen months to two years or more. Again, it takes a long time. On the other hand, once a retailer or restaurant pulls the trigger on a site, they need to get there, get the site through the entitlement process, get the site work done and a building built and get their goods and services to market as soon as possible. It gets confusing if you aren’t familiar with the process. This is the precise reason that cities do not need to wait until next month or next fiscal year or next year’s budget to get in the game.

Check back next week to see what the process looks like.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.