Will “Big Data” lead to “Big Answers” for Chain Store Operators?

One of the hottest topics in business analytics today is “big data,” defined by Wikipedia as “a term applied to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time.”

How big is “big data?”

Last year, consumers and businesses around the world are estimated to have stored more than 13 exabytes of information on PCs, laptops and other devices — the equivalent of more than 52,000 times the information housed in the Library of Congress. An exabyte is 1 followed by 18 zeros, or a billion gigabytes.  And the amount of data stored in such “technological memories” is growing 25 percent a year, said Martin Hilbert, a researcher at the University of Southern California.  These were some of the estimates shared at the The Economist Big Data Conference last June in Santa Clara, CA. (for complete story see http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_745039.html). Continue reading

A Vision for Profitable Chain Store Development

I have had the good fortune to get a close up view of many chain store operators in action over the past 20 years.  It’s amazing to see the wide variety of approaches used to find, open, relocate, and sometimes close stores.  There are many different org charts and reporting structures that sometimes place the real estate function directly below the CEO and in other cases reporting to the CFO or VP Marketing.  There are Real Estate Research Directors who have large staffs and tight controls over deal approval as well as companies who give the dealmakers responsibility for research. Continue reading

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

It’s hard to miss the similarity between baseball and site selection, right?

“That store is a home run.”

“We’re going to have to step up to the plate and do the deal.”

“She threw me a curve ball with that percentage rent clause.”

“We’re going to have to knock it out of the park to catch up to our competiton.” Continue reading

The Pendulum Swings: from Right Brain to Left Brain to…Whole Brain?

What’s worse?  Too little science or too much science?

Ahh, trick question.  The answer is that science is not a quantity that can be measured and compared to a standard.  Most people would agree with this, but we often hear people say “we need a little more science in our site selection process.” Continue reading

Welcome to Chain Store Advisors!

It’s been 17 years since I started the company that became geoVue.  That’s a lot of 70 hour weeks with not enough vacation.

It’s been 17 weeks since geoVue was sold to a new owner.  That’s a lot of time to think about the last 17 years and gain some perspective on the quest for good practices in real estate planning and site selection.

I’ve decided to spend the foreseeable future using what I’ve learned to help guide chain store operators in making better real estate investment decisions.  The focus of this work will be “connecting art and science,” which sums up the greatest need that I have seen among retailers, restaurants, and service companies in building a profitable network of stores.  There are many good people and many good technologies being used by companies today.  However, they often fail to deliver their potential because they are not integrated properly. Continue reading