Retail Shopping Centre Leasing Strategies that Work

When it comes to leasing a retail shopping centre, the mechanism of leasing can be quite specific and specialised.  That is why some leasing experts only specialise in retail property.  It is a very special part of the property market requiring good market knowledge and excellent tenant contact.

A shopping centre or a retail property is a vibrant business environment and it needs to be understood for the best leasing results to be obtained.  To a great degree, the success of the tenants will be generated from property performance, tenant mix, customer interaction, and the landlords support.  There are many ways that these issues need to evolve if the retail property is to succeed for the long term.

Here are some tenant mix strategies to apply to a retail shopping centre to assist the leasing process and the overall tenancy mix.

  1. The tenants that are chosen for the property should be the tenants that satisfy the demands of the local community and customers.  Tenants that are well matched to the local demographic will attract more customers to the property over time.  Tenants of this type should be integrated into the overall tenancy mix at strategic places and within specific retail clusters.  Clusters of tenants generate more sales in the property.  A cluster is a specific retail tenant mix strategy.
  2. Get to know the franchise groups in the local area that may require premises in your property at any future time.  There will also be other franchise groups that are not yet located in your region or town.  Connect with all the franchise groups that have a reasonable retail offering and therefore potentially an attraction to your customer base.  Understand what these franchise groups require of a property, and population demographic.  They will also have certain terms and conditions that relate to their lease occupancy and property selection.  In many cases they will share that information with leasing professionals in preparation for identifying the right property.  Get to know the franchise groups.
  3. Monitor the activity of all competing retail properties locally.  That will include the rental profiles, vacancy activities, and lease occupancy.  Selectively approaching the tenants within these properties will help you with market intelligence and leasing strategies.
  4. Identify any new property developments that are soon to be released on the market.  They are likely to shift the balance of available space and rental across the region.  They will also try to entice tenant movement through attractive incentives.  That can then make any older properties in the area less attractive to some tenants.  The only way to combat this problem is through competitive rentals, and exceptional property performance.  Retail tenants will always be attracted to properties that integrate well into their customer base.  Make sure your retail property does exactly this.
  5. Your existing tenancy mix will contain tenants that are more or less attractive to the future of the property.  You will require a tenancy retention program to define the differences between those tenants.  Over time the retention program can remove difficult tenants, reposition better tenants, and reduce your vacancy profile.  The tenant retention program is a significant business tool and point of difference for many retail leasing experts.

So all of these things will help you with the necessary momentum to improve your leasing activity; over time you can lift your tenancy outcomes.  Respect the differences in retail property leasing, and understand the specialised nature of lease negotiation.  Many commercial property agents have made a significant and very rewarding career from retail property.  You can too.

Lead Generation in Retail Property Leasing

female figures with shopping bags
Look for the right leads when it comes to new tenants in your retail property.

In retail real estate and investment property your leads for new business come from a number of sources. The more leads that you can generate and optimise, the more successful you will be in getting the best listings.

In this market, the quality of the listings and tenants is so important given that the shopping centre and shopping mall buyers and the tenants can be so selective.

When the market is saturated with owners and businesses that are struggling to keep afloat, it is the quality retail properties that you want to market. These are the ones that will generate the momentum even in difficult times. The banks are also not as reluctant to lend on the higher quality asset with established cash flow.

Does this mean that you turn your back on poor and unattractive retail real estate listings? Perhaps you should for this time given that you want results to your marketing. It’s your choice, but at the very least, be selective as to what you list and how you do it. Your time is your only resource and how you use your time is essential to generating fresh and marketable listings.

What are the Sources of Leads?

We cannot cover all the sources of commercial real estate tenant and property leads here as they are unique to your market in many respects; however it is worthwhile raising the main common ones so that you can have them covered. Importantly you must know what a lead or source of new retail real estate business looks like in its early stages, and then you must know how to convert it to fresh momentum and a deal.

There is one main rule on the topic of leads; when you see a lead, you must react to it in a professional and timely fashion before someone else does.

Leads in retail real estate are not just for the things that happen today; they can be for things that are potential deals in months or even years. The more clearly you see this, the further business you will generate for yourself.

So here is the most obvious leads generation list that you must have covered in one form or another. See how you score on these items and make sure that these foundational matters are under control.

  • Business Acquaintances locally – these are most particularly those people that you have known for some time and who are likely to cooperate as an extra set of eyes in the market place. Choose of these people with care and remain in contact with them constantly.
  • Professional Business People – in your marketplace, there are a number of categories of business people to whom you must remain connected. The highest on the list are solicitors, accountants, town planners, financiers, architects, local politicians, and engineers. All of these people have significant involvement with the retail property industry and the property owners. They will likely hear about a retail property or lease transaction before you do. In many cases these people need the assistance of a good retail real estate broker to help their clients in a variety of ways.
  • Local businesses – local businesses produce change and flux in the marketplace. As time progresses, you should constantly encourage ongoing contact with all the major businesses in your precinct. They are the ones that regularly need to buy, sell, and lease retail premises; this means all the local managers and business proprietors who are involved in property decisions and creating commerce generally in the community. Recognise that they do not normally know much about commercial real estate. You can bring them updates on rental and property prices regularly to assist them with a future property need.
  • Colleagues within your office – many real estate offices are cooperative business environments with salespeople working productively with each other. This means that they share retail property leads and opportunities in sales and leasing. Sharing part of your commission with other colleagues in your office is far better than giving the commission to another outside competitor an agent in the same region.
  • Building tenancy schedules – from time to time, you will see or obtain tenancy schedules or inventories that relate to major retail buildings and shopping centers in your area. Whilst they should be regarded as confidential documents, they will give you a wealth of opportunity if used correctly. Any lease that is to expire inside the next three years is a target for future contact. The relative tenant will need to do something to preserve the function and occupation of their business. It is surprising how many tenants leave such matters to the last minute. The ongoing contact with retail tenants of this type is highly productive. Your main focus with these people is to establish trust so that they come to you when they need you.
  • Competition agents and brokers – normally speaking, the competitor agencies in your area will cooperate on conjunction transactions with their exclusives. The retail real estate industry is relatively specialised and such cooperation is common in sales and leasing of retail property. Importantly, any conjunction arrangement involving other agent’s listings must have a completely signed and documented conjunction agreement before you proceed. Cooperate with other agents, but do so with care and professionalism.
  • Satisfied clients – your agency business, if it’s been operating for a number of years, will have a significant list of established happy clients from previous retail property and lease transactions. It pays to keep in contact with these people given that most transactions in commercial real estate happen every 4 to 10 years. The satisfied clients are going to need your services again.
  • Old campaigns – any retail real estate campaign and marketing event will have created leads and people that ‘changed their mind’. All of these people should be on your constant contact register or data base. Feeding them regular market updates is essential.
  • Other Agents old deals – as a further extension of this item above, you can also monitor the transactions of other competing agents in your area. Any transactions that occurred through other agencies over the last 4 to 10 years should be monitored for future re-activity. It is interesting to note that many real estate agents and brokers are lax when it comes to keeping in contact with others.
  • Industry publications – any newspaper or retail industry publication in your area should be reviewed daily for information involving businesses relocating, expanding, contracting, or merging. It is surprising how so many agents overlook this obvious source of listing. These publications will also frequently name the key people in a business such as the CEO, President, or CFO. In all cases these business leaders go on your contact list and get a letter on a regular basis. Note that I said a ‘letter’ and not an ‘email’. In this high tech world you want your correspondence to be seen and read; an email will not achieve this in most circumstances.
  • Other agent’s signboards –when another agent puts a signboard on a retail property, it is imperative that you contact the other adjacent and nearby owners of commercial property in that street. These people are likely to have an interest in competing with the retail property that’s just come on the market. They are also more likely to use you as a competing agent whilst the other agent’s property moves through its promotional period.
  • Financiers and bank managers – these people need property transactions for their business to survive. They are also receptive to working with professional real estate agents who understand retail real estate and act professionally. If you can supply them with the source of a new large mortgage or retail property development, they are likely to offer you the opportunity for a retail listing or a sale with their clients in the future.
  • Planning approvals – keep close to the local council or office of the planning committee in your region, as they constantly consider new planning matters. Some of these offices have minutes of planning approvals that are available for public scrutiny. Check out these minutes and follow through on the opportunities that you can see. The historic planning approvals over the last few years are also great sources of retail leads and listings.

The inventory above comprises the most obvious categories of leads and opportunities in retail shopping centre sales and leasing. You will be able to add to this as time progresses in your marketplace. Importantly make sure that you have these items well under control as the essential foundations of your business.