Maximizing Your Retail Recruitment and Retention Strategies

Maximizing Your Retail Recruitment and Retention Strategies

Retail recruitment and retention play a vital role in a community’s economic development, but too often the process is frustratingly ineffective and inefficient.

As a city government leader, time is your most precious resource. Here’s how to maximize it in order to see real results.

Know What Kind of Retail You Need

You likely have some intuitive knowledge of what type of retail your community needs, but can you prove it? Are there missed opportunities that you simply haven’t noticed?

A retail leakage and surplus analysis is a helpful tool for seeing the categories of retail where supply and demand aren’t balanced, which helps you identify the most promising opportunities. It also provides you with data to illustrate business opportunities for potential and existing retailers.

Identify Your Retail Targets

Let’s say you’ve discovered that your community is losing grocery sales to surrounding areas. You’ve decided to focus your efforts on recruiting grocery, but which grocer is most likely to be successful in your community?  

The answer lies in the consumer behaviors of your citizens. Two 30-year-old females with $50,000 incomes have the same demographics, but one may prefer organic, locally-sourced food options while the other focuses on national brands and cost effectiveness. If your community has lots of the first type of consumer, then natural grocers who cater to this type of customer are more likely to be interested than discounters who look for the second type of customer.

Consumer analytics allow you to dive deep into the lifestyles of your citizens so you can “match” your community to retailers who look for these types of customers. Using the data, you can then present a convincing case to your matched retailers illustrating that your market is a good fit for their brands.

You can also use the data to help existing businesses improve their merchandising and marketing efforts. If the analytics show that your citizens have a propensity to buy a certain type of product, you can recommend that the retailer start carrying it. You can also share information about your citizens’ preferred marketing channels (radio vs. television, etc.) so existing businesses can match their marketing efforts to those channels.

Set the Stage for Your Retail Recruitment

Once you have a clear understanding of the type of retail that is likely to be successful in your community, it’s tempting to jump in and start cold calling.


There are still important steps you need to take in order to make the process effective and efficient.

  • Streamline approval processes. Nothing kills a deal faster than a slow, confusing approval process. Figure out the details in advance.
  • Develop shovel-ready sites. Prepping a site for development will make it easier and faster for retailers to move in, which is a powerful incentive.
  • Pre-determine your incentive policies. Don’t wait until a retailer has expressed interest to figure out your community’s stance on incentives. Agree on the rules in advance.
  • Make information easy to access. How hard does a retailer have to work to find the information they need about your community? Make everything easy to access online.
  • Speak like a retailer. Educate yourself on key retail development terms so you can speak knowledgeably during negotiations.

Recruit to Win

With your prep work complete and a solid plan in place, you can now enter into the recruitment process with confidence. Use your research to create custom marketing pitches for each potential retailer, and don’t be afraid to ask staff or volunteers from outside your department to help with the process. Presenting a “united front” sends a great message to retailers.

Most importantly, don’t give up. Retailers plan their sites many months or even years in advance, so it takes time to see results.

Want to learn more about using consumer analytics to improve the effectiveness of your retail recruitment and retention strategies? Check out Buxton’s solution for city government.

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