|We're here to help.
Regardless of the size of the
site or facility which is needed, there are several suggestions about how to
pursue the search process.
1. Call us. Usually projects
involve far more considerations than just finding an available site or
building which meets the basic project parameters. In any case, we can
advise about how to proceed with the search, and can often do basic research
work among our contacts to make it much easier.
2. Let us introduce a
They can help with far more than just the "site selection" process from a
corporate real estate perspective, and these other factors typically dwarf
the corporate real estate issues in terms of their impact on the success and
return on investment of a project. Buildings don't create successful
companies. There are many other things which one needs to be careful
to get right when choosing a new location.
Some types of consultants can waste of a lot of money. Good
location consultants are not that expensive, and the payback on their
knowledge and work is generally very fast. The problem is that anybody
can claim to be a location consultant, so one needs to choose very
carefully. It pays to involve such a professional from the earliest
stages of investment planning, because at that stage their experience can
often deliver higher value, and avoid the waste of doing work which their
experience shows is not really necessary.
3. Let us introduce area representatives, as explained at right.
4. Let us introduce corporate real estate professionals who have a strong position in
specific markets of interest for your project.
The rest of this section shares some thoughts on the search process.
It is intended for executives who may not have faced this challenge before,
since planning a major project is not something most executives do
5. If you choose the "do it yourself" approach, and the
information we have provided through this website or any direct contact with
us has been helpful, please let area representatives or service providers
know how you found them, and what you think of this service. This will
help them to recognize and evaluate the actual value of supporting this free
service to executives. Their investment makes this work possible.
|The "Do It Yourself"
Option (see also -
If you want to search on your
own, beyond the lists we provide, have a look at the
corporate real estate firms, and check out the services of LoopNet,
CoStar, and the new FastFacility feature of Area Development magazine, among
Some corporate real estate networks may offer the capability to search
through their property listings, or may happily do a larger search if you
are a client. Local development agencies and regional utilities often
maintain lists of available properties, or can undertake a local search for
specific requirements if you know what you want.
If you know the places of interest, and project confidentiality or other
constraints do not limit your contacts, then use our
lists of area representatives to research the
websites of these areas, or to contact them directly and ask about what they
They often have information about virtually any major site or facility
which is available, regardless of ownership or current use. This may
reveal opportunities you won't even find through a broker yet.
For example, there may be facilities which are being used temporarily for
other purposes, but would quickly become available for the right buyer or
tenant. There may also be closures, relocations, or other changes in
progress which are expected to make facilities available soon.
Similarly, they may know about any "spec" building plans or activities,
including any potential to quickly modify a facility to meet special needs.
There may also be sites which are planned for development, or are going
through the acquisition or approval processes, and therefore don't yet show
up as being on the market.
If you want to contact a broker to conduct a site or facility search,
there is nothing wrong with that, but don't confuse their work with a
location consultant who addresses the full range of critical business issues
for a project, rather than just looking for a site or building with the
right attributes to sell.
Location consultants can often do work in 3 to 5 months which in-house
project teams would struggle to do in a year or more. That can make an
important difference to the timeliness and profitability of a project, and
their negotiation skills can also yield important savings. In short,
talk to them.
|When conducting a site or
facility search, it can be important to define critical business needs
without getting too bogged down in irrelevant or premature details related
to the choice of a location or facility. The search is basically for a
place to do business successfully. Physical attributes of the real
estate are rarely the driving business issues for a project, but it is not
unusual for project managers to try to define their searches in terms of
site or building attributes, and this is a common problem among area
representatives as well.
For example, there may be a very real need for a
particular type of loading dock in the US, but in Europe the dock needs may
be quite different, because trucks and freight handling practices differ.
Instead of being too specific, look for the facility first, and then
consider what type of docking it has, and if there is a very special
requirement, it may even be possible to add it efficiently. If the
business issue is efficient logistics for expected inbound and outbound
material flows, then don't confuse that with loading docks in existing
locations, because in other places the good may move differently, in
different volumes. Focus first on what the business will be doing, and
the facility solution follows.
As another example, people sometimes specify that the facility must be
within a certain distance of a major highway, but this can also be
misleading. For example, a nearly empty highway across southern Ohio
is a very different matter from a congested highway such as the Washington
DC "beltway" or the routes around cities like London or São
Paulo. Patterns of population density and traffic flows differ widely.
Instead of worrying about the miles from an interchange, focus on what needs
to work. What is the business issue? Is it to avoid congestion
that would delay shipments through heavily populated areas? Is it to
avoid movement of hazardous goods through towns? Or do the executives
just want their building prominently visible from the highway?
Distance from an airport is another common factor. Ten miles from a
major airport can include a wide variety of communities, some of which may
be completely irrelevant to the search, such as places where you wouldn't
want to kennel your dog, much less house executives or staff who are
concerned about convenience of the location for air travel purposes.
Sites a little farther away along the right corridor may actually be more
accessible to the airport, and perhaps even closer to where staff would
live, which might be an issue.
The point is that searches which are based on simplistic sets of
parameters, such as 40,000 sq ft with 18' eave heights and 10% office space
within 1 mile of a highway and 10 miles of an airport, can give an illusory
perception that one is doing a very carefully planned "site search".
Instead, one may be unintentionally screening out the best alternatives,
despite good intentions.
The same is true of a search which gets down to a premature "short list"
of a few preferred areas, without really considering more alternatives
carefully. It is absolutely logical that one should not spend lots of
time and resources researching many places in detail, so one needs to make
choices and screen the alternatives down to a few on which one can focus
effort. On the other hand, if one simply ignores the alternatives and
focuses on a few choices quickly, the search may efficiently focused on
reaching a suboptimal solution that will cost the company dearly over the
years. Unfortunately, once such a choice is made, the lost opportunity
may not even be obvious, and the company will just throw money away
indefinitely to make the choice work unless the choice was so obviously
flawed that it fails, which is rare.
|The point of the
explanation at left is quite simple.
Finding a new business location is a
There are people who do this full-time for their entire careers.
There is high value in getting their advice and assistance, because the
choices will affect company operations in both the short and long term.
One of the surprisingly challenging tasks of many projects is actually
the basic project definition. The scope may be clear in terms of the
number of people to be employed, type of operations to be conducted, capital
investment in equipment, and so forth, but that doesn't always mean there is
a clear picture of what makes one location a good choice for such a business
unit, and another location less suitable. At existing locations, there
is a common tendency to ignore the attributes of the location which
contribute to success, because they are easily taken for granted, while the
focus tends to be on a few irritating problems and thus making sure the new
location doesn't have those. In reality, however, those problems may
be insignificant irritants of minor consequence to the success of the
business, whereas the other factors are critical to successful operations.
In any case, the point is that a business is rarely successful because it
is within a certain number of miles of a highway or airport, or has certain
physical attributes in a building. Buildings and sites can often be
adapted efficiently to meet business needs. Businesses don't adapt
well to poor location choices. Business location selection is a
profession. Don't assume that everyone who claims to be able to
compare costs, tax consequences, or available real estate knows how to do it
well. Mistakes can be costly, with no easy way out.
The same is true of facility design, interior design, project management,
and other disciplines. There is a good reason why professionals
perform these functions as a specialty, and it can be false economy to avoid
the use of their services. On the other hand, it can also be a mistake
to use them for tasks which are not really their specialty, even if they
offer to try to be of help in that regard. For example, there are
architects who offer "site selection" services, perhaps to get involved in
project plans at an earlier stage of the process.
Sometimes their skills are not needed, but that should be a careful
choice based on the specific project, rather than a hasty decision by a
project team or leader under time or budget pressures which the company may
Most companies don't set up new facilities, or operations in new
locations, very often. They don't usually have a well-structured
process for dealing with all the issues involved, because the projects are
infrequent and perhaps quite different, such as expansion in different parts
of the world, or unrelated divisions of a company. It is very easy for
extremely talented managers and executives, with the best of intentions and
a lot of hard work, to make poor choices and not even realize it until it is
too late to change the outcome.
Once a company invests in a new operation, it will almost certainly be
prohibitively costly to relocate it, even if problems arise. There
will be too many people who are hard to replace without disrupting company
operations, or too many processes which are costly or difficult to relocate.
Inertia will favor the current configuration, good or bad, so it is very
important to take the time and get good help if necessary to get location
choices right in the first place.