As a member of a property development team supporting the retail operations of a Fortune 100 company I had the opportunity to open several new markets across the country. Understanding that experience was important I had to determine what experience should be used as a criteria for selecting service providers. The decision came down to familiar with our process and product or familiar with the market. Since our building design and development processes were standardized and easily transferable the important criteria became market experience.

With the decision made to seek out local service providers the interview process began with the following items focusing on experience discussed.

Labor Experience

I met with project teams to determine their experience with similar projects. I was looking for team members that were confident in the retail sector with demonstrated results that showed they did not hesitate because they had been there before. I paid close attention to word inventory trying to identify those teams that would be learning, experimenting and possibly making mistakes.

Standardization

I reviewed the company’s process and procedures and tried to understand how they applied continuous learning sot that they could react quickly.

Design

As a prototype based developer of capital projects we needed local service providers that could come alongside our professional team of architects and engineers to make suggestions and find improvements, before we began, to avoid late changes driven by market conditions.

Solutions

We spent a great deal of time with all potential service providers educating them in our process and procedures. With that understanding transferred we began to narrow our list of candidates as solutions to anticipated problems were brought forward. It was great to know ahead of time that the electrical union in Chicago would require all lights to be hard wired. The best part of this example was that our selected contractor was able to negotiate a compromise with the union requiring only 25% of the lights to be hard wired. A solution in the middle ground where everyone received benefit.

While there were many low first cost service providers in the market and several willing to enter the market for us the risk for potential added costs was incalculable. At the end of the day the value of experience was priceless as we opened 11 stores on the same day.

Steve Hage is a Development Consultant with Miller Architects and Builders. With forty years of experience as both an owner and contractor Steve has been responsible for the negotiated construction of over 25,000,000 square feet of retail, office, industrial, hospitality and multi-family projects across the United States of America. With a commitment to never settle the results are award winning design providing outstanding value for all stakeholders. Steve’s Contact Info is: steveh@millerab.com