In small towns, shopping centers may be something of a rarity, allowing you to capitalize on the lack of competition, albeit with little hope of growth. But if you operate your shopping center in a growing community or a city with a larger population, chances are that you own one of many shopping centers in a given area, all of which are clamoring to bring in local business. This could mean not only trying to get the attention of customers, but more importantly for shopping center managers, striving to bring in businesses that attract plenty of customers. When business is good, your tenants will not only pay, but they’ll stay, and this bodes well for everyone’s coffers. But how can you get good tenants to stay with you rather than moving on to bigger and better things? Here are a few suggestions to get you on the right track.
- Choose established businesses. The really tricky part about finding good tenants is picking the ones that are going to pay the lease, follow the rules, and help to promote traffic for the whole center. And of course, you want to find businesses that are going to create a demand in the community and then stick around to fill it. One of the best ways to make this happen is to bring in businesses that are already established. If you have a desirable location with plenty of traffic (foot and automobile), easy entrance and exit, abundant parking, and other established businesses, people will come looking for you. Figuring out which ones are right for your center will require some research, but businesses that are already established are likely looking to settle down and stay put.
- Make repairs and improvements. If businesses are doing well, financially speaking, they already have a lot of incentive to remain in a location their customers know about. But if conditions get bad enough, they might feel like they have to leave in order to continue giving customers the level of service they’ve come to expect. As the landlord, it’s your job to make sure that the buildings your tenants use are in good repair, which means conducting regular inspections of the property, assessing damages and deterioration, and making repairs as needed. It also requires you to deal with issues reported by tenants in a timely manner, especially those that could cause further damage like leaks, electrical problems, and so on. Upgrades also fall under your jurisdiction, and although they will cost you money, this is an instance where you may have to spend money to make money. A center that is clean, accessible, and in good repair is bound to attract a lot more customers (of the high-end variety) than one that is dilapidated.
- Listen to tenants. Your tenants will let you know when they need something, they want a change, or they feel that you can do something to improve business for them and for the center as a whole. While you don’t necessarily have to let them lead you by the nose, you should definitely take their concerns and requests into consideration if you want they to stay on.
- Temper lease increases. One of the quickest ways to lose tenants is by bumping up lease rates, and this can be a very fine line. You really need to consider the state of the economy, how well your center is doing as a whole, and how well particular businesses are performing. If you raise the rates too much when a tenant’s lease is up, they’re bound to look for other opportunities that are more favorable to their interests.
- Watch the competition. Whether you run a strip mall, an outlet mall, or some other type of shopping center, it’s important to keep an eye on what your competition is doing. If the Uptown Center near you is doing upgrades and raising their lease rates, you might want to think about keeping your rates slightly lower in order to nab any of their businesses looking to jump ship. Or you may consider implementing your own upgrades in order to stay relevant. You don’t necessarily have to let your competitors influence you, but it pays to know what they’re up to and how their decisions impact your business and your tenants.
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