Step #5 in our Site Selection Checklist for making intelligent site selection decisions is to get the help of a broker.
A knowledgeable broker is irreplaceable in today’s ultra-competitive, post COVID-19-shutdown environment…especially when you combine their insights with those gained from solid data. Whether you’re a retail chain working with a tenant rep broker to find your next space, or a property owner working with a landlord rep broker, you need the “boots on the ground” as you search and analyze retail locations.
If you’ve been keeping up with our Site Selection 101 checklist, by now you understand that site selection is a data-driven process (or it should be if done right). But there are many ways you can augment your search for your next store or site with a broker’s help. Here are several things a good broker will help you with in your site selection process:
Understanding the changing nature of a trade area
SiteSeer is powerful, but it cannot offer anecdotal information about a trade area like a broker who has been around and worked in a market for a long time. One of the biggest reasons to work with a broker is for their local insight and knowledge about a trade area and the direction it is going…why an area is hot, why the area a few miles away was once hot and is now declining, how the resident demographics and lifestyle has evolved in an area over the last several years, etc.
Understanding the political/behind-the-scenes challenges of a space or area
Has a certain shopping center been vacant for a long time? A broker might be able to give you the backstory on why. Perhaps there was resistance from a neighborhood about a certain retailer coming in, or maybe there are development restrictions you need to be aware of. You don’t want to step into a minefield, and a broker can help you avoid doing so.
Finding out what competitors are coming into the market
Brokers hear and know things about the markets in which they work day in, day out. And after all the due diligence you do on finding the right site for your retail store or restaurant chain, it sure would be nice to know if some competitor has plans to come into the market months from now just down the road.
Evaluating market rates for reasonableness
This is especially important when you are expanding your chain into a new state or city. You might be familiar with typical leasing terms and market rates where your other store/restaurant locations are, but in a new market, it’s a new ballgame. A broker can help you assess pricing and let you know whether something is reasonable for the area.
We say it all the time: data will help you make intelligent site selection decisions…but you shouldn’t disregard the human element. That’s where a broker can be especially helpful.
Even better? Work with a broker for their local knowledge and expertise and combine that with information you get from a data-driven site selection software like SiteSeer (or, work with a broker that uses SiteSeer to supplement their own analysis and get to know their clients’ businesses). SiteSeer can help you and your broker answer questions like…
- What retail demand gaps exist in a particular trade area?
- What tenants operate in the market but not the trade area?
- What site are a good match for a certain business type (based on your criteria)?
- Is the tenant mix in this shopping center that I’m considering right for my business type (and will it help/hinder my potential)?
Two final tips about working with a broker:
- A broker should help you find sites, not run your development process. Brokers know markets very well, but they do not know your business better than you do. Make sure you are leading the process and rely on them for the market knowledge they bring to the table, but do your own analysis to ensure that any location you consider meets all of your site criteria.
- Seek out recommendations if you can. Ask around. Check references. There are brokers that represent both landlords and tenants, and there are some that work with one or the other. Experience and local market knowledge are important when it comes to a broker relationship, and it is vital that you engage someone with a good reputation. You might want to engage a broker that is not working with your competitors but there can also be advantages to working with a broker that works with your competition.
The best site selection process is the one that blends art and science. Brokers (along with your own knowledge and experience) are the “art” in the equation and can help you in many ways. Of course, a tool like SiteSeer can help you vet locations even better, which we’ll get to in the next step of our Site Selection 101 checklist.
Want to see how SiteSeer works? Interested in our newest version, SiteSeer 3.0, which we rolled out in June 2020? Contact us for a demo. We look forward to showing you how to improve your site selection process in today’s vastly different, rapidly changing marketplace.