Love was in the air when Experience Makers and partners Tandem Asset Management, got together to discover Lessons in Love from retail: working with your customer.
Held at U+I, the event concept bloomed after talking with Tandem, fresh from the launch of The Foodpit at The Riverwalk Shopping Centre, Durham. In the face of epochal changes in retail and more care needed in our regional town centres, this event showed how forward-thinking agents are getting up-close and personal with their customers to create sustainable business.
Changing face of property management
As Lisa Riva explains, Tandem are changing the face of property management. The Foodpit is a new food-market concept for Durham city centre. They aren’t just letting the space; Tandem are actively engaging with their customers to help develop and grow the small food businesses.
Their independent approach means Tandem can adhere to genuine values at the new, exciting leisure landmark. Regional teams offer expert local knowledge and agile response. This is complemented by investment in technology to add value and save costs.
The focus is hyper-local with a very hands on approach. This also means that diversity, wellbeing and environmental excellence are high on the agenda to creates self-sustaining communities. Just like any loving and long-lasting relationship, John Jones, Senior Partner at Tandem reveals the secret:
‘We value the customer, we meet people, we listen and adapt’.
To celebrate this new collaborative approach between landlord/agent and customer (and because it was Valentine’s Day!) Tandem’s keynote was followed by a lively panel held in the style of Blind Date! Property experts, Paul Morris, Flourish, Alex Macaulay, The Really Local Group and John Morris, The Other Retail Group reacted to questions in an attempt to 'woo' our retail representatives.
Language of love
Lisa Mann, cofounder of Shop Creative was our ‘contestant number 1’. She specialises in negotiating with landlords to provide affordable, accessible retail opportunities to artists, designers and creative students and graduates.
Apart from long leases and unrealistic fit out costs, Lisa said one of the biggest hurdles was a lack of opportunity to develop contacts with landlords and straight forward ways to find out what’s out there. A lot comes down to language, says Lisa.
Look for passion
Paul Morris made the first move - this is exactly the situation Flourish intends to combat. They make it easy to bring businesses, event-makers, charities and community groups ideas to life. They get buy-in from the landlord as a bustling, busy space is better that a boarded up one. What is more, some of these businesses will develop into fully fledged, rent paying enterprises. So, what is it that Paul looks for in his customers looking for retail space? (right on theme) Passion.
Keep it fluid
Development Director at The Really Local Group talked about the importance of community engagement. This young development company is turning heads, repurposing defunct superstores on beleaguered high streets into multi-functional spaces. They work with the heritage of a place. Before move in, they spend time gaining the support of local people with pop ups, events, meetings and consultations. Like Tandem, RLG show that traditional roles are becoming more fluid, existing somewhere between traditional developer and operator.
“We have found that engaging the community has a direct correlation to adding value”
The Really Local Group
Wild card 'contestant number 3' Alex Bradley shared similar sentiment. He bought a different perspective from his role as Strategy Director for experience design company Eight Inc. (Eight Inc. designed the first Apple store and work with definitive brands, like Virgin, Bentley and Coca-Cola). Alex knows that companies that prioritise people to create reciprocal relationships, generate greater lifetime value.
This applies to property companies too.
Find the sparkle
Highly qualified expert John Wood from The Other Retail Group, responsible for a range of innovative retail concepts including Shop Creative, and another Tandem partner, made the final sweet nothings - Find the ‘sparkle’ in your customers. Everything else will follow.