CONNECT MEDIA: Prioritizing Operating Expenses While Preserving Quality

By Dennis Kaiser

As published on Connect Media on Sept. 5, 2019

Much has been discussed about the retail sector’s “hospitality” approach to business. Today’s environment demands that shopping center owners and retailers focus on the quality of experience, and not just the transaction. But there is a cost to quality, and not every owner or retailer is equipped to foot the bill.

Connect Media asked Coreland Companies’ Real Estate Manager Rosa Kendrick to share insights about how to manage expenses while still maintaining quality standards when evaluating neighborhood shopping center operations. Check out Kendrick’s responses in our latest 3 CRE Q&A.

Q: Which expenses are top priority to maintain a high-quality environment at neighborhood shopping centers?
 Always start with the basics. Invest in maintaining clean and safe common areas and parking fields. It is very easy for customers to find alternative places to shop when one of these areas is ignored. Making these elements a priority, while working to ensure that CAM rates remain competitive, is what builds value.

A natural next step is introducing key marketing elements. However, if leases allow for the collection of marketing expenses, begin by understanding the target customer through the help of a marketing consultant. The right consultant will ensure money is spent in the right areas and not wasted.

Q: How do you know which expenses will have the greatest impact on local consumers?
 Investing in security will support a welcoming environment no matter the specific location. Above all other amenities, customers enjoy visiting places where they feel safe. Safety begins with ease of access from the parking lot to the shops and restaurants. It is enforced with good lighting, cleanliness and an appropriate security presence.

Code enforcement is also a key component of safety that can be overlooked. Work with local municipalities, your security service and tenants to enforce health and safety codes. Proper Private Property and Code of Conduct signage are essential to indicate the shopping center is committed to maintaining a safe environment.

Q: Where do you start when considering small capital expenditures?
 Enhancing common areas, no matter the size, is a great place to start. Creating an environment that welcomes customers to meet with friends or enjoy lunch outside is the ultimate goal. Positive activity that is visible outside of shop spaces and restaurants creates energy and attracts customers. Review your seating, shading and any other small elements that can make the shopping center look and feel more hospitable.

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