Disneyland Retail: a Case Study for Driving Value

Although not a standard street in the typical sense, Main Street U.S.A Disneyland is destination shopping at its finest: classic retail storefronts, a delicious candy store filled with fudge, toffee and caramel apples shaped as Mickey Mouse, an old movie theater playing “Steamboat Willie,” and even a French-style cafe where you can rest your tired feet with a cup of coffee. It’s no surprise that Disneyland is supposed to be the most magical place on earth, so why wouldn’t it resemble the most magical of Main Streets?

As I watched snow fall from the sky (ok fake snow) in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, biting into my caramel apple, my inner real estate curiosity got the best of me and just in time for the holidays – I started to think if Main Street was a real street with non-Disney owned real shops, how sustainable would it be in a retail market? And how would it be valued?

Comparable Market Rents

From a financial perspective, we can compare Disneyland’s Main Street to many high-street retail environments, especially being located in Southern California. Main Street in Santa Monica is a beautiful water adjacent community with a collection of eclectic shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants. You’ll come across Urth Cafe, Coffee Bean, and local favorites like The Victorian and O’Briens. Rents on the street also seem just right for this wealthy area with prime asking rents over $5.00 per square foot/per month plus NNN expenses for just a small stretch of about a mile. And you won’t forget the very first Starbucks in California opened right there.

Downtown Ventura evokes old historic California charm with predominately local “mom and pop” shops and eateries. Strolling along you will come across locals grabbing a cup of coffee at Palermo or a late-night brew at Rookees Sports Bar. Although it certainly has its fill of national brands, rents around $2.00 per square foot/per month plus NNN expenses keep this ocean town balanced between up-ward rents and small-town charm.

That Destination Feeling

With people traveling to visit from all over the world, Disneyland creates a feeling of wanting to spend more money. In our recent article regarding the state of the Retail Industry, shopping centers and retail are taking note creating a “resort-type experience.” For instance, Westfield has recently created projects in the Woodland Hills/Warner Center area including The Village and the proposed $1B development at the Promenade. Retail is moving away from the old indoor mall concept. Rather, Westfield and other developers are investing in the consumer experience. Now, it is more common to find open-air concepts with beautiful landscaping, sculptures and art, music, DJ events, children play-areas, wine and beer tastings, and more to keep customers staying longer.

Millennials are contributing to the growing demand for experience-driven-retail. Our shopping center advisers’ resident millennial expert Marisa explains she will, “choose to spend $20 towards trying a new restaurant over buying a new top” in our recent article Boomers and Millennials. Retail is evolving to capture the new generation of customers. Disneyland is also evolving by creating new attractions for Star Wars and Marvel, to meet with new demands. Such new experiences will attract more visitors and more customers.

Property Positioning

Based on the above characteristics, our team would position the property to owners who look for highly sought-after trophy and core assets. Our unique Property Positing Matrix [see below] showcases assets across four quadrants. We could safely assume that Disneyland’s Main Street would fall along the bottom quadrants focused on buyers who enjoy long-term stability and strong trade areas rather than high-yield opportunities. And based on our transaction history of achieving historical low cap rates for many of our clients, our goals would be the same for such a property.

 

Ultimately, Disneyland’s main street retail would fit just nicely in today’s retail environment. The only downside is Disneyland does not serve alcohol (except for an exclusive members-only club); that means there are no local pubs to help foster sales. At least the $6.00 candy apples and $5.00 lattes are perfect for prime locations.

 

The New American Strip Mall

Boring, old-fashioned, dirty, necessary. These are the words that might come to mind when Americans today think of a traditional strip mall. Ever thought about the work that goes into designing a strip mall? It may be hard to fathom that there is any sort of methodical reasoning that goes into the physical design of these classic shopping centers, especially the ones that haven’t been remodeled since the early 70’s.

The Old American Strip Mall

Dating back to the 1880’s, utility always dominated architectural design or style when it came to erecting a strip mall. At this time, the streetcar made urban expansion possible. This new transportation allowed residents to enter the perimeter of cities where it was assumed that land values were higher. Due to sprawl caused by the streetcar, speculators erected single-row shop fronts and were cheaply built solely to produce enough revenue to pay the land taxes. Coined as “Tax-Payers”, these buildings were meant for easy destruction at some point in the near future. However, with the introduction of the car, the intended sprawl strips were changed and the Tax-Payers weren’t demolished. More of these buildings were established to accommodate cars in the fashion of the “Main Street” commercial site, with room for perpendicular parking along the facade. As Tax-Payers became more popular, they began to be moved to the rear of the property line with a parking lot separating the façade from the street to accommodate more vehicles. The Tax-Payers would continue to thrive and become precedents of many of today’s strip malls. Many iterations of the strip mall would come from this, including the enclosed shopping mall and power centers.

There are many commonalities of strip malls across the nation. They are between 5,000 and 100,000 square feet and are of plain style, most likely to keep costs down. Many have flat roofs and are 1-story, as in the tradition of the tax-payer. They include asphalt roofs, painted block, metal-framed windows, concrete sidewalks, and asphalt parking lots. This may be the case for strip malls designed in the latter half of the 20th century, but what about strip malls today?

Shifting Toward the New Strip Mall

As consumer interests start to change, the type of stores that go into strip malls change, and in turn change the design as well. One may think that strip malls are failing due to the ease of online shopping; however, it is the opposite. Strip malls are thriving today because many have transformed to become more service-oriented; they include interests such as yoga, salons, spas, urgent care facilities, and insurance. Becoming more service-oriented involves much more of an experience over the normal goods-oriented strip mall. This experience is reflected in the design of the mall’s exterior design and layout in addition to what its tenants may offer. The priority has now shifted to match the aesthetics of these new tenants and the surrounding neighborhoods. By doing so, it can attract more consumers from the outside in, contributing to an already prosperous industry.

Shopping centers are still thriving in an upward trend largely due to a more extensive design process. It all starts with the idea of a concept that matches the needs of the area, followed by an extensive research of market trends, surveys, mall positioning, retail circulation, zoning, and more. Choosing the right architect is also crucial to convey a concept and could contribute to the success or failure of the shopping center. Though this may seem like a simple task, it is beneficial to have a special team and or expert mall adviser to conceptualize, efficiently manage, and coordinate the design planning phase. Up until recently, it was not understood by many that there needs to be an organized approach towards shopping center design and planning. Better shopping center development is crucial and is becoming more apparent across the country, contributing to a better, more enjoyable, and more efficient shopping experience.

Strip Malls are an important part of American history and have completely altered the experience of shopping for many people since their creation. While homogeneity has cast its shadow on many strip malls throughout America, today’s centers involve a much more extensive design process that attempts to imitate the design of the neighborhood and create an experience for many service-oriented businesses. Strip malls have thrived since their creation, and their success will continue far into the future. The new American Strip Mall: enjoyable, unique, and of course, still, necessary.

The Value of a Tenant During a Sale

Receiving an offer or pending renewal can seem exciting for any owner. However, when it comes to selling the shopping center, not all deals are created equal. In fact, it can affect the valuation process. For an owner, a vacancy can be a negative on the one-hand, and a value-add opportunity for a buyer on the other-hand: owners and buyers may have different visions and goals. Through our expertise in navigating such situations, our Shopping Center Advisers’ team provides solutions to our clients.

During the marketing and due diligence process, our team develops a strategy to position the property to various buyers. We offer a comprehensive national platform specializing in the disposition of multi-tenant and grocery-anchored shopping centers. As such, we understand the ins-and-outs of shopping centers including how to handle vacancies and pending leases during the underwriting and valuation stages. Then we craft a three-step marketing approach based on the valuation and ideal buyer pools to best position the property for a sale. Additionally, we understand that a shopping center is fluid and may undergo changes during this process. Before signing on the dotted line, however, it is important to understand the value of the lease and its effect on the center.

Lease Terms

An institutional owner may like long-term leases, for instance, or be willing to provide Tenant Improvement (TI) allowances in exchange for higher per square foot rents. Another owner may prefer shorter-term leases or provide free rent instead of TIs. When a vacancy is positioned to prospective buyers, we can leave it up to them to create a vision for the space and center with the idea of negotiating their own deal. We don’t want to rain on the leasing professional parades either. Rather, in our article How Leasing Agents Can Create Value in the Sales Process, we describe how teaming-up with leasing experts can “drive value to the overall transaction.” It becomes a win-win for all parties involved.

Fair Market Rent

During the sale phase, tenants may be entering into their option notification period and desire to negotiate the Fair Market Rent. Prospective buyers are underwriting to specific market rents as part of their valuation and offer. If negotiations begin to take place this could impact a buyer’s future negotiation power and ultimately, their sales price. Part of our team’s diligence is to review the lease terms before going to market. We’ll be able to spot potentially overlooked items and advise accordingly.

Team Management

We can often be an extension of your management team. Many clients have different departments for leasing, asset management, and dispositions. While the leasing team is off and running trying to get spaces leased, the disposition team is focused on the transaction and sale. We act as a bridge across your internal departments to help align visions and goals. In our recent article Why You Need a Transaction Manager Role, we detail how our team provides a “unique promise” of facilitating “clear and direct communication.”

While revenue growth is important to any shopping center owner, the number one goal during the sale process is the actual sale. More specifically, maximizing value along with securing the right buyer. If you are not sure how a prospective lease may impact your property’s value, contact us and we’ll be happy to provide our in-depth insights.

Why You Should Work With a Transaction Manager

The role of a transaction manager is almost always found in residential real estate; no top producing agent or team would be caught without having someone whose focus is coordinating the transactions. However, when it comes to commercial real estate, where arguably the process can be even more detailed and timely, not every group or team has a transaction management department. The role of the transaction manager is extremely important: the focus is not just on coordination but strategy and keeping the deal flow for a secured closing. ™

As an integral component at Shopping Center Advisors, a transaction manager is vital to both the team and deal process. Having a single point of contact helps streamline the process for many of our clients, both private and institutional groups alike. Private individuals and funds find comfort in having a single point of contact who is responsible for the data and information gathering and coordination. A transaction manager role is no stranger for our institutional level clients – many of whom have dedicated managers and departments themselves. Our team is an extension of your in-house acquisitions team.

Team Process

In many teams, the division of labor is based on each person’s strengths. Those who handle the business development side are focused on increasing sales and relationships. Not every person can be a “jack of all trades.” A transaction manager can help offset the nitty-gritty and detail aspects of a transaction by staying on top of the salient business terms. The business development members can then focus on developing existing and new relationships. In our article,“Don’t Be a Lone Wolf,” Tom Lagos describes the Strategic Coaching program and surrounding yourself with “complementary team members and the results of a strength-focused team.” The manager can be a valuable position. As deals become more complex, the transaction manager can utilize his or her strengths to keep the deal flow focused.

Having great verbal and written communication is essential, as a transaction manager is often communicating across multiple avenues including phone, e-mail, and in-person. The goal of good communication is to manage expectations among the parties, and ensure documents are addressed timely. And in real estate transactions, timing is everything.

Deal Process

Before a property goes to market for disposition, the manager analyzes and oversees the documentation to be gathered. Often this includes abstracting leases, financial review, ARGUS modeling and/or oversight, and makes strategy recommendations based on the review process.

During the marketing process, the transaction manager can be responsible for integrating the documents using platforms such as Real Capital Markets. In our recent article, we share insights on how this platform provides a “War Room” component for uploading and maintaining the pertinent documents to a transaction. This tool is helpful for a transaction manager, who can oversee permission levels of prospective buyers. He or she is also often responsible for putting together data analytics on offers, and drafting counters.

During the due diligence phase, the manager is then responsible for review of the purchase and sale agreement, coordinating the documents among multiple parties including the buyer and seller, and escrow and title. The Secured Close™ is our team’s unique promise of a managed transaction: facilitate clear and direct communication.

We create a detailed reporting and follow-up process that ensures the buyer, seller, and escrow agents are accurately following the purchase and sale instructions while mitigating any issues that might arise. Thereby, this proven process helps us keep all parties aligned during the transaction. While our team often represents the Seller in a transaction, our goal is to create a process where the buyer, seller, and escrow agents are following the purchase and sale instructions while mitigating any issues that arise.

Some states even have a specific role called the “Transaction Broker.” This role mirrors many of the tasks and expectations of a transaction manager. A transaction broker assists the buyer, seller, or both by performing specific roles related to the contract.

While a common role found in many real estate arenas, having a transaction manager has enabled our team to improve both our team process as well as the transaction process – not only for us, but our clients as well. We are therefore able to uniquely service shopping center owners. Whether you own a single shopping center or a portfolio across the nation, the Shopping Center Advisers are ready and able to help you through every step of the process.

Understanding Your Property Type & How to Market It

Property marketing can be a complex formula in understanding both the buyer and property. Our team has found that breaking that formula down to two equal parts has been a proven way to properly position a property on the market.

Understanding the buyer is the foundation to our property marketing methodology. Next step is understanding the property.

What Type of Property is it?

Classifying the subject property type is just as important as finding out what kind of buyer bucket the property fits into. Our metrics begin with distressed and go all the way up to generational.

A distressed property would be one that sounds just as it is described – a property that would need a lot of capital improvements, potential lease-up strategy, and would probably market with an “as-is” financial analysis. Distressed properties are very specific to certain buyer profiles, and we typically see more of the private equity and sole ownership buckets purchasing these types of properties.

Opportunistic and value-add properties typically appeal to the dreamer – one who can see the potential in either the property or the trade area. When our team markets a property that fits into this category, we usually form the offering memorandum around the possibilities rather than the “as-is” narrative. This usually includes a projected financial analysis as well as a strong market and area overview section. A prime example of this would be our Hacienda Plaza property in La Puente, California. Typically these types of properties offer a higher yield in a shorter amount of time than a distressed property, and usually have some sort of characteristic that would attract a Syndicator or REIT.

Once we move on to the lower quadrants of the property positioning chart, we see core through generational. These properties are highly sought after and are highly attractive to the more institutional buckets. Marketing these properties revolves around a narrative of the stability and long-term viability rather than high-yield opportunities. Our offering memoranda become more financially driven and focus on the tenants and overall market landscape. For a property to be considered core or above, there are very distinct characteristics it must have i.e., strong tenancy, high occupancy rates, stable to upward trending financials, and a strong trade area that is either consistent or growing. Of course, these are not the final say in what makes a property core or higher, but they are common traits among the properties we have marketed and sold.

 

Marketing the Property

Once our team has fully vetted the subject property and has placed it on our property positioning chart, we take active marketing steps to not only target the specific buyer profile but also tailor each marketing campaign to the property type.

For a distressed property we might take a softer approach and target a specific pool of buyers that seek distressed properties by creating a very direct valuation and offering memorandum. Often third party platforms would be leveraged at a higher rate such as Loopnet, TenX, Propertyline, and Costar. A buyer for a distressed property is very specific, and the marketing campaign would reflect that specificity.

Value-Add and opportunistic properties have to appeal to the macro-minded individual. Our team generally places a stronger emphasis on graphic elements, trade area information, and photography. Our visuals tend to emphasis the property’s potential as well as its inherent value. We usually launch a full eBlast marketing campaign and often leverage third party marketing platforms such as Real Capital Markets as well as produce a property video.

When we start marketing core through generational properties, our team creates a full eBlast campaign, leverages third party marketing platforms such as Real Capital Markets, and produces a property video. Although these property types do appeal to the more institutional buckets, the buyer pool also widens to include high net worth individuals as well as REITS and funds. We tend to place a heavier emphasis on the underwriting, but also make sure we are implementing highly stylized graphics. Since the buyer pool widens, our marketing campaigns have to appeal to that larger audience.

Ultimately, each property is unique in its own right. Even with our property positioning chart and formula, there will be exceptions to our methodologies. Each of our marketing campaigns is customized and individually built to reflect each property’s unique characteristics.

We make sure to maximize exposure, create a best-in-class campaign, and always strive for our team’s promise of a secured and managed close. If you would like more information on our process or how your property fits into our positioning chart, please feel free to contact us.

Retail is Not Dying it is Thriving. Time to Change the Message.

Every week the newspapers paint a dire picture of the retail industry – one where the retail industry is driving off a cliff, much like the iconic scene in Thelma and Louise. There are countless articles about thousands of store closings, the number of brand name retailers calling it quits, no new shopping centers being developed, and NACREIF advising institutional investors to bet on boring industrial real estate instead of shopping centers. I find myself wondering aloud “what, should I sell warehouses instead of neighborhood centers?” And, what will happen to all the people that I have met during the past 23 years of transacting shopping centers? What will they do for a living? Then, I am awakened from my mid-day dream. I answer my doorbell to find an Amazon delivery guy dropping off a package of print cartridges my wife ordered a few hours ago on a Sunday afternoon.

Outlook Not so Bleak?

It is so easy to believe that the convenience of ordering online and having items delivered within days, and sometimes hours, is quickly killing the retail industry. It is easy to believe that Amazon is killing traditional department store retailers such as Sears, K-Mart, JC Penney, and other well-known retailers like Toy’s R Us (a childhood favorite) who recently announced bankruptcy.

However, what if I told you that in 2017, retailers will open 4,000 more stores than it closes, what if I told you that retail sales have increased over $100 Billion over same period the year before, what if I told you that shopping center operators are reporting some of the most historic performances from their tenants? These are all true statements that paint a rosier picture of the retail industry but this reality does not sell newspapers or inspire debate and dialogue. Join us as our team discusses three common and widely publicized misconceptions of today’s retail environment:

1. The Numbers Don’t Lie

There exists a perceived bias that online retailers such as Amazon are causing the downfall of brick-and-mortar stores. However, by taking a closer look at the numbers, the reality becomes more nuanced. Online sales only represent about 8.5% of total retail sales and Amazon, as an example, only accounts for less than 5% of total U.S. market share. Therefore, there is still a lot of money left on the table. The recent acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon is a good indicator that certain consumer goods such as grocers are performing better with physical locations rather than a pure e-commerce platform (or warehouse space alone). Leading-up to the acquisition, Whole Foods had Return on Assets (“ROA”) of 8.42-10.29% from 2013 to 2016. Its operations model was appealing to Amazon, which hasn’t been able to make a profit with online food sales. In fact, Amazon’s ROA only reached 3.18% in 2016 when it was barely operating at or below 1% since 2012. Other retailers such as department stores and apparel have realized declining values since 2001, before Amazon was even a major player: Amazon didn’t even begin selling apparel until 2002. Sears, for instance, had a negative ROA of -1.61% in 2001 and only received its highest returns in 2004-2005 after selling many of its assets and liabilities.

One of the best examples comes from electronic goods. Once thought to be an example of the end to brick-and-mortar, Best Buy has dug itself out of the trenches and seen an increase in ROA reaching 9% in 2017, which is close to its higher ranges of 9.36-12.64% from 1998-2001.

These shifts in ROA are an indicator that for Whole Foods and Best Buy, they were efficient in increasing earnings. Other companies, such as Sears, were unfortunately in the business of a consumer good that had declining sales before the influence of online competition.

2. It’s Customer Service, Not the Internet

With technology constantly arising and evolving, it is easy to blame the internet for the demise of retail. Despite what the media would have you believe, the neglect of the customer service aspect is really what is causing so many retail companies to close up shop. Instead of believing the myth that physical stores are becoming obsolete, brick-and-mortar stores can focus and shift strategies toward tangible realities that can bring more consumers through the door. In order to get customers off of their screens and into a store, that particular store is going to have to offer them something they can not receive online.

Certain types of tenants are surviving by making their expertise, guidance, and assistance indispensable. They cultivate a need to go physically into the store and perhaps even make shopping a desired experience. Keeping with a prior example, Best Buy has successfully executed this notion. Research shows that, despite a steady economic incline, less and less people are buying big ticket items. Instead of caving into defeat, these tenants have restructured their approach. The employees can be seen more as educators rather than salespeople. Executives take the time and money to train employees to better answer and support consumers’ inquiries. Technology can be confusing and expensive for a lot of users. Consumers want to compare and speak with staff who are knowledgeable about what exactly can satisfy their needs. Getting hands on experience and talking to someone who can thoroughly explain a product makes a huge difference in consumers’ eyes as this is something you simply cannot get online. And now, with majority of retailers matching online prices, the instant gratification of having a product becomes an even bigger appeal. This service coupled with the ability to physically try various products at once with no shipping wait or fees, make a very compelling argument as to why shoppers should still purchase in-store.

3. The Psychology of Spending More

The argument for online shopping vs. brick-and-mortar shopping comes down to one factor – convenience. Online shopping is most attractive to those who need something in a hurry or would rather not leave the comfort of home. However, the average buyer doesn’t usually just stick to one or the other. It’s a mix of both online and in-person shopping, and the need for an in-person shopping experience will never go away for two main reasons.

First, social media has practically taken over our society. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter have all infiltrated everyday life. With the creation of shopping centers that feel more like you’re at a resort or on vacation, people are more inclined to spend more time and therefore more money. The buyer is then encouraged to post pictures on social media as part of the user-experience. One great example is The Village in the San Fernando Valley, where Westfield has strategically placed artwork with captions throughout the center to encourage social media interaction. Second, niche markets and stores are all the rage in today’s shopping world. When going to a shopping center, today’s buyer wants a mix of both large chain stores and smaller, mom-and-pop stores that may satisfy a niche interest. Buying your favorite type of matcha or that one vinyl that you’ve been looking for isn’t as fun online as it is in a small store where you are made to feel like a VIP. To read more about how the trends of today’s dominant group of buyers, click here.

A resort-type shopping experience in today’s world will never be hindered by online shopping. Want a quick getaway? Just hop in your car and indulge in a relaxing and stress-relieving trip to your nearest shopping center.

These are the facts. It is not to say that online retailers aren’t considered a competitor, just that there is so much fight left in the business of retail. As we round out the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2017 and prepare for the ICSC Western Conference and the Fall ULI meetings in Downtown Los Angeles, let’s keep in mind these realities. It is up to us to change the message and deliver the truth.

Regulations and Implications of Drone Technology

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (commonly referred to as “drones”) are without a doubt changing the commercial real estate transaction and marketing process. The use of technology has enabled brokerages including the Lagos Shopping Center Advisers to effectively market properties by providing quality aerials, parcel layouts, and give prospective buyers a larger perspective on how a property fits within the local market. Property owners and managers can use drones to keep an eye on their properties or show vacant spaces. Even retailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart are experimenting with delivering products via drones. However, it’s equally important to understand the rules and implications of using such technology. It is tempting to rush and purchase a drone and start watching it soar through the skies, but policies have tightened over the last few years. We’ll also share how to use drones for marketing your properties, so come back to see our newest posts. Before you fly, here are four (4) major impacts to consider:

1. FAA Regulations

On June 21, 2016, FAA released new regulation which took effect on August 29, 2016 (Part 107 to the Code of Federal Regulation). An individual must obtain a remote pilot certificate by meeting several requirements including, but not limited, to passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test or hold a part 61 pilot certificate. It is also important to note that this only applies to commercial drones under 55lbs. Aircraft over 55lbs must be registered and undergo a pre-flight check to ensure Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) is in condition for safe operation.

2. Flying Restrictions

Some properties and areas may be under a restricted No Fly Zone. Drones can operate in Class G airspace. Recreational operators are required to give notice to UAS, the airport operator and air traffic controller, of its intent to fly within 5 miles of the airport and obtain the necessary approvals. Otherwise, other notable restrictions, including around stadiums, are prohibited within one hour before or after the scheduled time of an event. If your property may fall within a restricted area, it will be important to keep such restrictions in mind or obtain the necessary approvals before flying.

3. Operational Guidelines

To operate under Part 107 of the Code, the drone must adhere to the following operational guidelines: the aircraft must be in visual line of sight; fly under 400 feet and during the day; fly below or at 100 mph and not over people; and not fly from a moving vehicle.

4. Drone Options

There are several cost options when deciding upon a drone. A multi-rotor is the easiest and usually the least costly. It is typically used for aerial photography and videography, because they have great control over position and framing. Such drones, however, only run about 20-30 minutes on a charge. A Fixed Wing is the costlier option, but it is more efficient. Such drones can run for 16 hours or possibly more with fuel. The downside is they can’t hover in one still spot, so they are not ideal for general aerial photography.

The drone industry is growing quickly with U.S. industry experts predicting the creation of 100,000+ jobs and generating more than $82 billion in economic impact over the next 10 years. There are even attorneys specializing in the drone practice field by providing business formation, compliance, and obtaining FAA waivers. For real estate brokerage firms, many are sourcing companies and individuals with the proper licensing. This may make the most economic sense in the interim where the opportunity cost of FAA regulations and licensing may not be worth it. Larger brokerage firms and real estate companies may decide, in the near future, to incorporate full-time staff and personnel. The potential is here and will continue to grow.

Regardless of the complexity of issues, safety and privacy concerns, drones will most likely continue to be a valuable resource to the commercial real estate industry.

Real Capital Markets : A Resource for Online Marketing

One of the greatest tools we have found in utilizing technology within our property marketing is leveraging the third party platform Real Capital Markets (RCM). Although it is attached to a distinct price tag, the platform is a one-stop-shop for all of our property marketing needs. The platform not only allows you to create a unique website for the property equipped with its own domain, it can send property emails, keep an on eye on real-time reporting, and provide immediate war room access to qualified investors.

Know Your Pricing Options

There are different pricing options for the platform (for more information on pricing please contact RCM), and our team has utilized both the DIY Package and the Silver Package. The main difference between the two is that the Silver Package includes RCM’s distribution list of qualified investors, and depending on your pricing rubric – a thousand dollars. The purchased distribution information is proprietary and protected by RCM, so certain items are hidden from the user such as email address. There are two higher packages, Gold and Platinum Package, which offer additional support in creating the “teaser” or landing page as well as additional email building support. These two packages would be ideal for a team that did not have the graphic support capability to create and execute the design elements for a landing page or eblast on their own.

RCM also offers exceptional support. It took me a few months to figure out how to fully navigate through the platform, and their support staff was with me every step of the way. With each new project, you are assigned an account manager who will be able to help you with any questions you might have.

Reporting Metrics

One of my favorite features is the RCM Reporting tab. Not only is everything in real-time, the interface is easy to use and there are also notification features. Everything is vertically integrated within the platform, and reporting begins from viewing the landing page, to the initial eblast, and all the way through downloading documents from the war room. You no longer have to visit several platforms to provide your client with updated and accurate reporting, RCM provides it all in one place.

Another great feature is the notifications. RCM sends a bi-weekly report and you can also set up your own personal notifications to receive an alert when someone executes ta project’s confidentiality agreement. Our team loves this feature because it is a wonderful, real-time gauge of the market’s interest in a specific property/project. Yes, a surge of emails filling your inbox could be somewhat distracting, but it is also a great way to see property interest and build genuine excitement about the marketing campaign itself.

War Rooms

RCM has set a high precedent on what a War Room should be and how it should interact with your marketing platform.

The War Room itself is user-friendly and provides you with multiple security settings. This is where our team typically houses the property’s offering memorandum and all of the property’s due diligence.

The offering memorandum and any other information we would want someone to initially receive about the property is typically set to low, while higher level due diligence items such as leases and sensitive financial documents are set to medium or high. And the wonderful things about the RCM War Room is that clients can access the low-level information immediately after executing the online confidentiality agreement.

Please do keep in mind that RCM does allow you to manually approve each person who enters the War Room even if they execute the CA, and for some brokers this is preferred. Our team has found that adding additional security measures has no added benefit to the low-level information. Our distribution lists are already filtered and find that a best practice is to let people get the information as soon as and with as much ease as possible.

In conjunction with the reporting, RCM allows you to see who has downloaded specific documents, what they have opened, and their time stamped activity within the War Room. In my experience, no other service out there has been able to provide this in such a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing interface.

There is an initial storage limitation on of 100 MG to the War Room, but there are also options to purchase more space if needed.

Cross Linking Between Platforms

Something that we have also found useful within our property marketing is that RCM allows you to cross link to their platform. RCM does limit the amount of full distribution blasts you can send per project. Each project is allowed two full distribution blasts. This stops people from sending mass amounts of emails to their distribution lists, which in turn protects RCM and RCM’s distribution list from SPAM complaints.

Although this may seem limiting, this is one of the factors that make’s RCM’s purchased distribution lists so effective. They take these extra measures to ensure that the people on their lists are active users. Do not fear, you can send additional (and unlimited) emails to “approved” users, or those that have engaged in the marketing campaign. RCM will also make additional exceptions if there are significant changes to the property such as a notable price adjustment.

There will be times when a team will want to send another email to a full distribution list after using the initial two blasts. The great thing about that is you don’t have to lose any valuable reporting by going through another e-blasting platform. RCM has built in generic links to both the project’s landing page as well as a confidentiality agreement. By placing these generic links into the other platform, you are still able to filter all the reporting through RCM. These generic links have proven to be invaluable not just for additionally blast, but for answering property requests that have been sourced from third party sites such as Loopnet, Costar, and Propetyline.

RCM really has done a wonderful job in supplying brokers and marketers with all the tools needed to create and execute a successful marketing campaign. My only criticisms of the platform really lie within the pricing and time limitations surround the lifespan of a project, but those things are extremely subjective and do not diminish the many benefits you receive when using the platform.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have on the platforms functionality as well as our team’s best practices. We have utilized the platform for years and have found it to be one of our greatest marketing tools.

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Millennial Insight on Retail

For most, it’s easy to think of a millennial as a teenager with a phone attached to their hand or constantly binge-watching Netflix shows but the reality is that this generation is growing up and so is its retail habits. The most important thing to realize about this generation is the great diversity within it, primarily with its age range. It includes anyone born between 1978 and 1995, which means the oldest millennials are roughly 40 and the youngest are 22. This is a large gap that encompasses many milestones. As a millennial on the younger side and a college student, I have much different spending habits than someone born more towards the beginning of the generation who is in their 30s, perhaps married with children. It is important for retailers to focus on catering to all sides of the spectrum. As more and more millennials are starting to make the shift into the majority of the workforce and consumers, retailers should understand and re-evaluate where millennials’ shopping habits are currently. By doing so, this can help qualm some fears and anxieties about the future of retail to tenants and investors. For more information how generations have affected and adjusted to the industry, click here.

Online Shopping

While the convenience of a mobile platform is paramount to millennials, it is not the only reason they keep gravitating more towards cyber-retailers; it’s simply the best way to see what is available on the market. As established, a lot of the generation’s time is spent online, and in particular social media sites. Naturally, some profiles stand out more and the owners of these accounts have now become known as “social media influencers”, the use of which can be crucial for a lot of retailers. To give an example, there are many influencers, which also include bloggers and vloggers, who demonstrate or try on their purchases in picture or video format. They often link where to buy the products or tag companies, making the purchasing process very simple as well as giving exposure of the brand to thousands of people with just one photograph. It can be seen as virtually trying on or testing products. However, social media is also a proponent for why millennials still go out to get one thing they can’t online: experiences. Well, that and no shipping prices.

Experiences Matter

With cost of living and student debt constantly rising, it is no wonder why millennial spending habits are adjusting. If there is an opportunity to spend $20 on a new top or trying a new restaurant, most would choose the latter. This is true for a few reasons, one of which being its correlation to social media. You can post via various apps where you are and what you are doing to showcasing to friends your experience and awareness of what is “cool”. Going out also allows for social interaction and promotes the popular wellness of the work-life balance. If most of one’s spending money was spent on material items, it wouldn’t leave much to spend with friends and activities. Since a lot of millennials’ time is spent online, human interaction is crucial to social life. This is why restaurants, bars, trendy workout studios, and activity centers have been left undisturbed by the “retail apocalypse”.

The other reason for shopping brick-and-mortar is the fact that it is a leisure activity to partake in. Though we like to buy online, there is something far more gratifying to have a product immediately —another defining quality of the generation. Personally, if I have time, I greatly enjoy just wandering down each aisle touching, feeling products, reading labels and being around other people doing the exact same. Additionally, shopping itself can be seen very therapeutic. Studies even show that “retail therapy” can been a useful strategy in trying to improve one’s mood [Atalay, Meloy]. Retailers can use this as an advantage by making the shopping experience cater to consumer’s senses – free samples or demonstrations, a distinct smell in the store, live music or other events on weekends, etc.

Ethical Spending

For a long time, the biggest fad was trying to constantly discover the next fad. However, recently there has been a slight decline in materialism. There is a large emphasis on ethical buying and natural products. People are becoming more engaged in politics, cultural, and societal issues which can translate to their purchasing habits. For example, some shoppers may be less likely to buy something from stores that partake in child labor, support certain politicians, or fire people in favor of machine automation. Millennials are less likely to spend money unnecessarily but when they do spend, they prefer to give money to brands with positive and sustainable business ethics, even if that means shelling a few extra dollars. The graphic below [Psychologytoday.com] showcases that majority of the generation’s expect more of large corporations than just the products they provide.

In conclusion, there are several more aspects that retailers should be taking into consideration when designing products and services toward millennials. While stereotypes of the generation may exist for a reason, some are quite outdated and creating marketing tactics towards them will not benefit the producer or the consumer. Tapping into what current trends or habits are occurring could mean tapping into a larger potential and profit.

 

Boomers and Millennials – How Two Generations are Transforming Retail

Contrary to popular belief, Amazon and other internet retailers are not the sole drivers behind the closures of some of the most iconic retail brands of the last 50 years. Brand names such as Sears, K-Mart, JCPenney, Macy’s and Sport Chalet are shuttering their doors because they are struggling to transition from how the Baby Boomers shopped to how the Millennials seek to experience shopping.

Plain and simple – I’m tired of hearing how this is the end of retail. I don’t believe that power centers will become distribution hubs and that “bricks and mortar” retail will continue to die a slow death. Instead, what I see is a paradigm shift from the way we looked at the lost art of retail to how the next generation is transforming the way we experience shopping altogether. In order to understand how shopping centers are retailing we should look at how the Baby Boomer generation once influenced retail and how the Millennials will now transform the retail industry.

The Boomers

8,000 new shopping centers were built throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s in response to the tremendous demand from the Baby Boomer generation (born in between 1946 to 1964). It is no coincidence that K-mart, Walmart, Kohl’s, Rite-Aid and Target were all born in 1962, followed closely by Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Gap, Petco and Pier 1 Imports. The Baby Boomer consumers were largely white, middle class children from a two-parent single income home and, broadly speaking, liked the same stuff. This made it extremely easy for retailers to cater, predict and deliver on consumer demands.

In fact, the demand was so great that creativity gave way to production to satisfy the consumer and nobody complained. As the Boomer joined the workforce and started to have families in the suburbs, developers and retailers responded by building large format or “power center” shopping centers. These power centers attracted “Category Killer” tenants such as Walmart, and Home Depot, that could deliver products cheaper and at a massive scale. This tremendously affected the traditional mom & pop retailer that could no longer compete with prices. In Doug Stephens’, book The Retail Revival; he calls this period the Industrial Devolution; a period where retailing ceased to be a craft and became an occupation. The new era would bear witness to the displacement of personal service, unique products and artful merchandise by stack-outs, blowouts and rollbacks. Quality would take a back seat to availability, and abundance would triumph over substance.”

Between the years of 1980 to 2005, when the Baby Boomers were at their earning prime, the US economy grew 100%. This growth concluded with the great recession of 2008.

Now, almost 10 years after the great recession and 55 years after the last Boomers were born, most Baby Boomers are past their earning primes but are still holding on to executive level positions while shifting their disposable income from retail consumption to travel and health care. Retailers are still slowly recovering from the recession but must now adapt to new consumer demands generated from the largest generation since the Baby Boomer: the complex and diverse Millennials (born between 1981-1997).

The Millennials

Millennial consumer demands are a 180-degree turn from the Baby Boomers. Unlike the vanilla Boomer, Millennials come from various cultures, ethnicities, educations and socio-economic status. This dramatic shift in consumer tastes is proving problematic to the various retailers that have not adapted to the new wave of demand led by the Millennial consumer.

Why should every person involved in the shopping industry care about Millennials?

Because they are the largest generation in U.S. History and have a higher net worth than any previous generation according to a Forbes Magazine article written by the CEO of ICSC (International Shopping Center Council), Tom McGee. Forbes Magazine states that 14% of them already have a net worth above $2,000,000 and they have not yet reached their prime working and spending years. They are spending more money on entertainment and dining than any other generation. And as a whole will allocate a lot more of their disposable income towards “experiences.”

“It’s not that we are lazy,” states Marisa, our 22-year-old marketing intern, “we just take pride in figuring out how to make things work for us quickly. It’s called “Life-Hacking”. Marisa is the ideal millennial to provide me with insights into their purchasing rituals. She just completed all the courses for her bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern California but instead of heading into the workforce, she is opting to stay an extra year at USC to complete her Master’s Degree.

Here is what I learned from Marisa, and what retailers will need to learn in order to prosper.

Influencers

Most of her time is spent online and it bleeds into her shopping habits because she follows bloggers who demonstrate or try-on purchases in picture or video format. If she decides it looks good on them and she wants to try it on, she buys it. The bloggers will link where to buy the product, making it convenient for her to click on the link and make the purchase.

Purpose

For a long time the biggest fad was trying to discover the next fad; however, she has recently noticed a decline in materialism and a large emphasis on ethical buying. Her peers are more engaged in politics and cultural issues, which means that they are less likely to buy something from stores whose values are not aligned with theirs.

Experience

With limited disposable income, she will choose to spend $20 towards trying a new restaurant over buying a new top. She will pick the restaurant for the following reasons: a) she can post about it on social media, b) she can discuss her experience with her friends and c) it allows her to have social interaction. Since she spends most of her time on online, she cherishes the opportunity to spend time socially with friends. She will admit that the majority of her disposable income is spent on eating, drinking, Ubers and gasoline.

When it comes to actually going shopping, she only goes if they accept credit cards over cash- since it is very rare she has cash. She will rarely visit a shopping center but when she goes, it is because of one of three things; a) it is for a very specific item, b) there is a coupon involved or c) the EXPERIENCE. She enjoys going to Target because it is therapeutic. She will venture into stores to try clothes or make-up if time allows for it but will rarely purchase an item.

For more detailed information on the shopping habits of Millennials click here.

The difference in retail habits between Baby Boomers and Millennials provides a perfect case study for the premise that retailing is not dying a slow death, it is simply evolving to meet the needs of the new generation. Those retailers that understand and capture this new customer will thrive.

The Baby Boomers led the way in consumerism and retailers responded with big boxes, mass quantities and “low” prices. Millennials are bringing back the lost art of retail, by demanding an experience, convenience, quality and purpose. We will see over the next few years which retailers will meet these demands and which ones will fail to catch up with today’s main consumer.