A Sponsored Article by Webster Global Site Selectors
This is the third of a four-part article series to provide information about the specificity of the Site Selection Process. These articles include an overview of the Site Selection industry; workforce-related issues during a site selection process; understanding the critical real estate search during the expansion or relocation process; and finally, understanding the role of state and local incentives in finalizing the Site Selection search.
The Site Selection process evaluates many variables while conducting a locational quotient for our clients. Most often, expansions/relocations are driven by the communities or regions that have the most qualified and quantity of labor. The second most important variable to the Site Selection Process and the decision of the C-Suite Decision Maker is Location, Location, Location.
If a C-Suite Decision Maker of a Contact Call Center or BPO is looking for existing buildings during their Site Selection Process, one must look at all the variables within the real estate search. Many factors play into the site analysis for the Contact Call Center industry. Some questions that arise include: Does the current facility have adequate telecommunication infrastructure at the site or within a few feet of the local trunk line? Does the building need major Tenant Improvements for the contact call center to run efficiently? Is the existing building within close proximities to a valuable workforce? Does the current facility have local restaurants and child care facilities within walking distance of the site? What is the Lease Rate and does the client need to purchase the building?
These questions and factors play into the Site Selection Formula for acquiring the real estate on a project.
Evaluating Existing Buildings That Are in the Marketplace
During our past searches with contact call centers and BPOs, we have found that many rural communities have existing buildings that can be converted into call center space. An old existing grocery store is a good option as it has an open floor plan and usually can be converted with a small amount of capital to get our client up and running in a short amount of time. Other “dark” retail space can also be adequate for conversion into a call center, too, including existing “big box” centers that have left the community. One thing to remember in the search for these “dark” facilities is to make sure that during the real estate analysis, one needs to review the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) of the developers to guarantee that they do not have restrictions on call center operations within the retail center operations. If the retail center does not allow for this use, it can waste time and money during the search.
These reusable properties usually have a lower lease rate versus an office building in a metropolitan area. You may ask, “How do we find these properties?” Most Site Selectors are aware of where these properties are located throughout North America. Our Firm has even started working with rural communities to analyze and evaluate current existing facilities to get them up to date for the call center requirement grades. Our firm is calling this program the Certified Contact Call Center Properties. A quick Google search of these properties should allow the C-Suite Executive to find these properties with ease.
After our extensive evaluation of these existing facilities, we will be able to provide to our clients a database of communities that have these specific “certified” facilities in the areas our clients are evaluating. You may ask, “Why would you do this?” It helps a community reduce business risk and time for You, the end user, to get to market quicker than if You are just inquiring about an existing property in an old retail center. Time is of the essence for getting your project up and running, too. An existing location usually eliminates 3-5 months of time compared to building a new build-to-suit facility for your operation.
When evaluating urban areas for an existing facility, it is usually easier to find existing space. The amenities and the infrastructure are usually in place. However, the Executive will spend more dollars for these lease rates for these sites. Typically, in urban locations for these centers, one negotiates the floor of the building the center will be on. Another typical cost associated with urban locations is negotiating whether the center wants a company sign lease on the outside of the building. These costs can be very expensive on some high-rise buildings. Understanding the internal infrastructure of a building regarding the telecommunication infrastructure is crucial, too. If the existing building does not have your specific requirements, retrofitting an office building can be financially impossible to make the overall project work.
Potential Land Purchase for a Build-to-Suit in the Marketplace Being Evaluated
If an existing building is not the right choice or decision for the C-Suite Executive, for reasons the center needs to be in a specific area (time zone or place with an available labor pool), then evaluating a piece of land for a build-to-suit may be the next option for the site selection process. The only time that a land purchase may be beneficial to the operator is when the operation has to have very specific criteria for the operations. This type of search is far and between. However, looking for “certified” sites during the search in North America can be the best approach to finding the land suitable for your use. Most communities have started “certifying” these properties, but they are mainly used for manufacturing uses. However, during the search, the Site Selector can evaluate these sites for the Contact Call Center industry user. Again, looking at these “Certified Sites” can eliminate time and costs, to evaluate exactly what the raw land has to offer.
Most Land searches are more cost effective in rural areas of the U.S.; however, there are sometimes excellent purchases in inner-city, blighted areas. It all depends on your time-frame for your operation to be up and running.
Evaluating property taxes in an area can also influence the decision on the relocation expansion. While conducting the site search, Site Selectors and C-Suite Executives evaluate all aspects of the Real Estate Transaction. During the Site Analysis, Site Selectors look at the commission rates of the real estate agent broker. Sometimes the negotiation of the commission rates can save the Contact Call Center Operations a large amount of money. Beware to the buyer, if these steps are not taken with caution, the whole cost of the expansion or relocation could be prohibitive.
Finally, looking at proximity to public transportation hubs is also very important. This is also part of the real estate analysis. It is not a good practice to leave money on the table during these site selection searches for the C-Suite Executive.
If you would like further information on the Site Selection process, please review our website at www.globalsiteselectors.com .
About Webster Global Site Selectors
Paige Webster started his new firm September 2013 and is excited to run his own consulting firm. Paige has worked with many projects across many industry sectors including: aerospace, call centers, bio-tech companies, geo-thermal, wind and solar, warehouse/distribution, office projects, data centers, corporate centers and the retail sector. Paige has been working in site selection and economic development for over twenty years.
Paige has had extensive site selection experience as he was the Western Regional Real Estate Manager for Aaron Rents. Paige was able to facilitate and expand the major retail expansion for Aaron Rents in the Western United States.
Paige has also created a Site Selection Conference called Site Link Forum ( www.sitelinkforum.com ), where Economic Developers and Site Selectors trade ideas and information. Site Link will be held in Biloxi, MS; Klamath Falls, OR; Lynchburg, VA and Kentucky in 2016.
Paige has had experience in the Economic Development arena too. He was the former Economic Development Director for the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation. Paige’s experience includes working with back office, warehouse/distribution, bio tech, software development companies and food processing companies for the Yuma area. Paige did extensive work in cross border economic development and was a member of the Border Trade Alliance (BTA) and worked closely with the Arizona Governor’s Office on cross border issues in Mexico. Paige was on the Workforce Development Board and was also a Board Member of the Arizona Association of Economic Development (AAED). Paige has also received the CEcD designation during his career in Economic Development.
Paige also worked for the Arizona Department of Commerce as the Northern Arizona Representative, assisting companies to expand or relocate to the State of Arizona with projects related to injection molding, warehouse/distribution, back office, agro-business, bio-tech, high tech, aviation.
Paige has a B.S. in Regional Development from the University of Arizona and an MBA in Global Management from the University of Phoenix.
Paige resides in Phoenix, AZ. He has two children and loves to play golf, hunts, skis and scuba dives.