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What to do When Your Retail Recruitment Efforts Are “Stuck”

Retail recruitment can be a long and frustrating process. The next time you feel that your community’s retail recruitment efforts have hit a roadblock, try these steps:

Confirm That You Are Targeting the Right Companies

Basing your retail outreach on a wish-list of companies often leads to disappointment. You may really want a Trader Joe’s, but if your market is not a good fit for the grocer then no amount of persuasive marketing materials will convince them to come.

If you haven’t done so already, validate that your prospect list is realistic. Leverage market research to identify the retailers that are the right match for your community so your outreach efforts have the best chance of success.

Perfect Your Sales Pitch

Retail recruitment is a sales process. If your outreach isn’t gaining any traction and you are confident that you are targeting the right companies, then perhaps it’s time to perfect your pitch. Keep these best practices in mind:

  • Present information that’s relevant to each specific retailer
  • Test different communications channels (e.g. direct mail, email, LinkedIn) to determine which one is most effective for you
  • Share content that educates on your market and sites; don’t assume they already know your area

Analyze and Address the Feedback You’ve Received

When a retailer or restaurant tells you that they aren’t interested, ask them if they can share with you insights on the reason why. Look for common themes in the feedback you receive and take steps to address it.

Do retailers commonly say that the cost of land or construction is too expensive? Consider steps the city can take to make sites “shovel ready” and evaluate your current incentive policies. If retailers express concern that your market is too small, then make sure you are presenting statistics based on your drive-time trade area rather than just your political boundaries. 

Continue to Build the Relationship

Sometimes, a retailer is a great fit for your market, but it simply isn’t the right time for them to make the investment. Take steps to continue to build the relationship so you will be top of mind when they are ready to make a move. Connect on LinkedIn and touch base periodically to share positive economic development news from your market.

Look for Alternatives

If you’ve tried the previous steps and still aren’t seeing results, then it’s time to start thinking creatively. Look for alternatives that help you reach your goal.

  • Identify similar, smaller retailers who meet the same need or encourage a local entrepreneur to start a business that fills the gap.
  • Consider partnering with a developer who can address retail development as part of a bigger project. 

Retail recruitment doesn’t happen overnight, but by developing a clear strategy, executing it effectively, and thinking creatively, you can lay the foundation for success.

Learn more about how to effectively market your city to potential businesses by downloading our whitepaper.  

Journey Awareness Persona Economic Development/Elected Official City Government