I have become obsessed with the realization that chain store operators are leaving billions of dollars of sales on the table by failing to properly train and develop their talent in the real estate teams (total sales of US retail establishments is around $4 trillion according to the 2007 Economic Censuspublished in 2009).
Why is this? Laziness? Ignorance? I don’t think so. Some of the most clever AND street-wise people I’ve ever met are senior executives in chain store companies. I think that the training challenge is relatively new and requires adapting to new market conditions. It’s the natural evolution of the chain store business. Sears built an empire with selection (“Sears Has Everything”). Wal-Mart revolutionized retailing with their supply chain management. Apple has seemingly cornered the market on “cool” and “easy.” Here are some of the driving factors that have increased the priority of training from low-moderate to high: Continue reading →
After 3 ½ weeks, my blog page called “Site Selection Surprises: Stories from the Field,” has more than twice the average page views of the other blog articles. What’s so compelling about this article? The stated purpose of the page is to provide a forum for chain store real estate dealmakers and analysts to share stories of success and failure in order to build our experience base for evaluating future deals. Makes sense, who wouldn’t want that?
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 →
Years ago I was trying to sell site evaluation software to the commercial lending group at Freddie Mac. They had fifteen underwriters around the country with huge piles of loan requests on their desks and very little time to analyze each deal. The person I was working with described his problem like this:
“There are only about ten criteria we need to evaluate in order to approve or reject the loan. Unfortunately the ten criteria are usually different for each deal!” Continue reading →
The retail marketplace is a complex system that is constantly changing and is full of surprises. Sometimes these surprises are positive; and other times they are not! It never ceases to amaze me how many different combinations of factors lead to success and failure in chain store performance. Complexity drives statistical models crazy (as well as the people who use them). There seem to be as many exceptions as there are rules, and the best way to understand these exceptions is by listening to experts tell their stories about what happened.
AND NOW… I’m pleased to announce the unveiling of a new page in this blog:
“Site Selection Surprises – Stories from the Field”
Please click on the new page above for the rest of the story…
Not too many years ago, chain store real estate was almost entirely a “people” business. The ICSC was the formal organization that provided regular gatherings among landlords, tenants, brokers, and all the other suppliers to the shopping center/chain store industry. “Going to Vegas” has become an annual pilgrimage for dealmakers since 1986 (the first convention was held in New York in 1958). The telephone and the automobile were the primary research tools. The research department was often located at one of the many bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and golf courses across the country. Continue reading →
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 →