Every retail shopping centre property is different and should be assessed individually to ensure that you locate the new retail tenant well in the tenant mix. When you get the balance wrong it will impact your foot traffic, rental, customer interest, vacancy factors, sales, and other tenants. So what should you do? Gather all the right property information and take the time to assess what you find; this is well before you make a placement change or tenancy decision.
The old adage ‘position, position, position’, still rings true with retail property tenant mix. Each property is a mixture of good, average, and bad locations. To assess this and improve it you should immediately understand:
- the entrances points to the property
- visitations needs and decisions of the average customer
- the way in which people travel into and through the property
- the car park interaction, access, and usage
- public transport impact on the property
- common areas of the property where people congregate
- the time spent in the property by customers
- the days of the week that people prefer to shop
- what people want when they shop
- the most popular tenants and the reason why they are so favoured
- Are your most popular tenants leaving in the future and if so why?
- the most unpopular tenants and the reason why they are so disliked or avoided
- signage impact and placement across the property at all points of entry and exit
- tenant lease duration and termination dates
- existing vacancy factors and threats that could destabilize the tenant mix
All of these factors will put you on the track to a reasonable property assessment and improvement. A visit to other nearby shopping centres will also help you to identify what impact those properties are having on your property.
Customer surveys and questions taken on different days of the week will help you know what the community thinks about the property and its benefit to the customer.
Always walk around the property!
You have to have a good understanding of what works and does not work in the property, take a walk around on different days and at different times over a period of a couple of weeks. Ask people questions about what they think of the property and its history. Observe the levels of stock that the tenants are holding. An abundance of old stock on sale could be a sign of trouble; similarly a lack of stock for some tenants is also a reason for concern.
Here are 10 key facts to look at in the physical property inspection. They are:
- Are the road and highway access points to the property good or hindered from all or any directions? Know what happens at the property at peak traffic times and at the end of the day when people are travelling home. How can you capture that passing traffic?
- Look for road closures and changes that exist and also those that are in the planning process at the local or regional planning office. Are there any physical barriers such as creeks or geographical barriers that channel people and customers to or away from the property in a particular direction?
- Is the banner and pylon road signage exposure of the property of good quality and can that signage be easily seen? It is possible that fresh signage will help or reposition the property in the mind of the shopper. Take pictures around the entrances to assess the visibility of the signage. Remember that night illuminated signs should also be assessed.
- Is the property easy to locate for the community? It is possible that you will also have customers from outside your region visit the property, so how will they find you?
- Is public transport available? If so where and at what frequency? You will need to understand just how many people use that method of transport to get to the property, on what days and at what times.
- What is the identity or branding of the property and can it be clearly seen from the road. Is it modern and adequate? Does that branding means something to the shopper and will it leave a positive impact?
- Look at the car parking to see what works and doesn’t. If the shopper cannot enter the property easily and get those convenience items quickly it will restrict your trading and growth. Does the parking around the property support all the Customers and Tenants well? Does it need re-design or functional changes? Does it need new and fresh signage? Remember that the car park signage is the first thing that most people experience when they visit the property. If the public cannot see or understand the signage then you are setting up for a problem.
- What customer services exist in and around the property? Are they adequate and modern? (Parking, Toilets, Malls, Seating etc.). Make sure that they can be found when people need them. The quality of the common areas and services will leave an imprint in the customers mind.
- Look along the shop lines and entrances. Are ‘sight lines’ open and un-cluttered to the retailers shops? This will impact on sales and how the customers move through the property. The shops have to be seen and the entrances should be welcoming. Include in this visual assessment a review of tenant’s signs and lighting; no shopper wants to visit an unwelcoming shop that is dim and dark. Pay particular attention to the lighting from the front to the back of the shop as it should be of similar high quality illumination. Many poor retailers destroy their customer shopping experience (and sales) by neglecting illumination at the rear of the premises.
- Are more customer services needed in and around the property and if so what? Asking customers what they want or could see as an advantage in the property will help your tuning of the tenant placement and mix.
All of these factors affect every retail property and help it on the road to positive rental and tenant mix success. Once you understand these property issues you can make wise decisions regards the tenant placement. It will help you lease the new vacancies and mix the tenants more effectively.