Brandon Talbert, Location Consultant with Austin Consulting
As companies plan where to locate their next facility, a decision is typically made early on as to whether the process will be managed in-house or with the assistance of a third-party. It may seem logical to manage the process in-house for a variety of reasons. After all, nobody knows your business better than you do. However, the value of utilizing the expertise and guidance of an experienced third-party consultant cannot be underestimated. Here are five common pitfalls of conducting the site selection process in-house:
Bias – Personal bias of employees involved in the project can sometimes lead to individual interests outweighing business objectives, even unintentionally. Individuals are often drawn to the most attractive city for qualitative factors such as climate, culture, natural beauty or familiarity. Corporate site selection is not the same process as relocating your family. While these factors can play a role in the decision making process, viable locations should make sense from a business perspective, first. Minimizing long-term operating costs and prioritizing other key business objectives should be paramount.
Time constraints – Companies often find that the process requires significantly more time than anticipated. Larger projects in particular may require a team of managers who are intimately familiar with the company operations. Most often, these individuals are already busy managing the day-to-day operations and are unable to dedicate the necessary time and resources to formulate a strategy and complete a thorough evaluation of site and community alternatives.
Knowledge and experience counts – The knowledge of an experienced third-party consulting group shouldn’t be underestimated. The experience our team has gained from siting projects in hundreds of locations cannot be duplicated by an in-house project team. Familiarity with state and local taxes, regulations, business-friendly communities, available properties, impact fees, and permitting saves time and minimizes risks.
Maintaining confidentiality – Most companies do not want their competitors or even certain employees to know about an expansion or relocation until a final decision has been made. Non-disclosure agreements do not always provide adequate protection. Information leaks to the media from state and other public entities are not uncommon. Utilizing a third-party can eliminate this risk by keeping your identity undisclosed during the evaluating process until the timing is right.
Relationships matter – Reputable third-parties often have established relationships with key state and local economic development organizations through past and current experience. These relationships often pay dividends during incentive negotiations, identification of unlisted properties that may fly under the radar, fast track permitting and other assistance.
Whether your company is contemplating a new location for its second or twentieth facility, consider engaging a third-party consultant. In addition to helping you achieve your goals while avoiding the aforementioned pitfalls, an experienced consultant brings an outside perspective while guiding your team through what can often be a complex and arduous process.
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