Field Report: Training for Chain Store Real Estate Analysts

We have some preliminary information about the state of training for analysts based on several different types of chain store operators:  apparel retailer, casual dining restaurant, shopping center developer, and a quick serve restaurant.

Highlights:

  • The most common method of training new employees is “on the job training”
  • Most software-specific training is provided by third-party vendors
  • In one case there is a well-developed intranet portal with process documentation, historical trends, and other resources that employees can access on demand for initial training and ongoing learning as new material is posted
  • As analysts have become more proficient in the use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and other tools, companies are hiring people with hard skills and training is focused on the specifics of the business and procedures
  • There is very little structured training regarding decision-making processes or standards for evaluation of sites
  • Most analysts perform their jobs with a high degree of autonomy in their methods and investment committees use their own criteria for final evaluation of sites (often very informal and deal-specific)

Based on this assessment, there is a lot of room for improvement in the industry.  The “low hanging fruit” that will deliver the greatest value with minimal effort and expense would include:

  1. Creation of a web-based repository of key documents, report formats, and guidelines for market planning and site evaluation for use in training new employees and as a reference for more experienced people.  Many companies have an “intranet” in place and also have these documents available (even electronically).  The effort to publish these documents is not a major effort.
  2. Development and documentation of a decision-making process that clearly outlines the players, required documents, and flow of information so that the participants understand what is expected and can schedule their time and priorities accordingly.
  3. Establishment of “mentor” relationships between experienced and newer team members to create clear accountability for knowledge transfer and the opportunity for “informal learning” to occur in the normal course of business.  This will overcome the problem of mentors feeling that it’s “not in their job description” to spend time sharing their knowledge and experience with less experienced people.  Conversely, it will make less experienced people feel more comfortable approaching senior team members without worrying about wasting their time or appearing incompetent.

As additional input on the current state of training is received it will be posted to this blog.  Your comments are welcome on this blog.  If you would like to share your knowledge on this topic anonymously, feel free to contact me at jimstone52@gmail.com or call 781-608-0488.  The results will be presented in the same anonymous fashion as this article.

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