Facts, Feelings, Opinions and Truth Are Not the Same Thing
But All are Important in Attracting Retail to Your Community
When The Retail Coach works for a client, they conduct a lot of research and produce important data to inform strategy creation and decision making. They interpret the data, make observations about the community, interview people inside the community and more.
There are hard facts gleaned from research including, but not limited to, knowing the actual physical location of consumers who shop in your community. You can also find out how many dollars are spent in your community and how many dollars are leaving your community. This information is critical to knowing how to market and attract businesses to your city or town.
There are other factors you need to consider. When companies are contemplating a move to your town, more often than not, they ask established business owners what it’s like to do business there. How do your current business owners feel about your business climate? Many of us base what we think on what we feel, not necessarily what is true or not always true. Did someone have a bad experience with the permitting entity while someone else may have had a perfectly reasonable time? Perception is truth to many. But do you have an ad valorem tax abatement program that helps businesses? That is truth.
Opinions on development in a town can range from “We need a Target,” to “There’s too much traffic,” to “We need more jobs,” to “There’s nothing to do here,” and everything in between. What do residents in your town think/feel? What is their opinion about the quality of life in your community? Do people feel it’s a friendly place? What do they want and not want?
Surveys are conducted constantly in our world. They can be useful but not always absolute “truth.” Surveys can reflect the bias of the surveyor. Time can affect them. Many surveys are based on “groups.” Our society likes to label people as belonging to groups. There are women, men, blacks, whites, millennials, boomers, and on and on. It should go without saying that not everyone in a group thinks alike.
An example is millennials all want to live in cities, walk, not drive, rent, not own, etc. Well, that seems to be the case in large part until they get married and have children. Then they seem to want to move out of the cities and buy homes. They are still “millennials” but now they behave differently.
The point here is we need more than surveys of groups to inform us about our own towns. These surveys are useful but we need to know our people – our unique neighbors. Civic leaders, elected officials and business owners should be in tune with their communities.
Retailers want hard data about your community. They base location decisions on data such as traffic counts, population and average household income. The success of their shop or restaurant will be affected by feelings and opinions of customers.
What is “true” about your community is made up of facts, feelings, opinions and, yes, truth. If a community wants to succeed in attracting retail, they need to manage all of these by obtaining the data, proactively fostering the best business environment possible, focusing on improving quality of life, listening to their residents and creating the best recruitment strategy.