Retail recruitment for beginners - by Carol Todreas

December 15, 2017 - Front Section
Carol Todreas, 
Todreas Hanley Associates

Opportunity for re-tenanting is now for small downtowns, strip and neighborhood village centers. Optimism is in the air for starting small businesses and for brick and mortar locations. New tenants are appearing in all sizes and categories: food, entertainment, gifts, clothing, and non retail, such as fitness, spas, salons, health, co-working to name the most popular at the moment.

How and who to recruit can be overwhelming. This column offers a grass roots approach to start the recruitment process. While this is just a beginners mini-guide, it will help to get you thinking and hopefully start the ball rolling.

Step 1. Answer these questions:

Is the center clean, safe and attractive? 
• If not, what needs to happen to make it so? 

• Does it need benches, landscaping, sidewalks, bike racks?

• Is there adequate lighting, crosswalk signals, callboxes?

How well do you know the consumer?
• Who is moving into your market? 

• What are the latest demographics ?

• Is there a new employer, an expanding educational or cultural institution or any other noteworthy change within a 20 minute drive?

•  Are there tourists to capture in nearby areas?

What are the vacancies?
• What are the sizes and types of space available?

• Are owners willing to negotiate rents and tenant improvements? 

• Are there large parking lots and /or under-used parks?

What is the best mix?

• Are non-retail tenants desirable? Or will food, gifts, or personal services be more of a draw?

• Is a national chain needed or would a few local tenants create excitement or a mix of both?

• What tenant type would serve as an anchor: health/fitness, co-work center, café/restaurant, grocer or retailer?

Who, how, and what? 
• Is there a community member or broker to lead the effort and create a basic marketing plan?

• How can we raise funds for marketing?

• Which vacancy is best suited for an anchor?

Step 2. Next Steps:
• Site a leasing office in a vacant space.

• Designate a community member as recruitment manager.

• Create a website and Facebook page with a local student.

• Develop a fact sheet to handout to prospects.

• Make a list of desired tenants.

• Start a program of community events and promotions on site.

• Send interested prospects to owner or site broker to sign leases.

Publicize and continue!

Carol Todreas is a principal at Todreas Hanley Associates, Cambridge, Mass.

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