There are hundreds of things that can go wrong in the store development process which is why you need a best in class project manager or project management team on every new site. This term is thrown around in several of the disciplines affiliated with store development however a true project manager is a ‘jack of all trades’ and a master of one: ORGANIZATION! Their goal is to keep your project on track while minimizing pitfalls and avoiding costly (sometimes stupid) mistakes.
Several companies refer to the project manager as the ‘Deal Maker’ which is a person with a real estate background but is well versed in many aspects of development. Since most projects start with a real estate discipline, it makes sense to have the ‘Deal Maker’ established this early in the game. Most real estate developers act in this capacity as it is usually their neck on the line if something goes wrong. You’ll know a good ‘Deal Maker’ when you meet one… You’ll also realize their significance when something didn’t go as planned. It is very important to identify this person early in the development process as this is your quarterback. It is also very important to make sure everyone on your team can point to their quarterback. These are complicated endeavors and establishing the proper hierarchy is extremely important as things will go wrong and you need a leader who can turn things around on a dime in these very critical times.
Project management is more than checking off tasks. Task management is a coordinator’s role not project management. This is not a knock to coordinators out there. In fact, some of the best project managers out there today have worked in some capacity as a coordinator. Experience matters in this role and if you are fortunate enough to work with a talented project manager, be sure to listen and take notes. This discipline understands the real estate approval process and can present a new opportunity to the team with grace and discipline. A solid project manager can read the landscape and identify what obstacles will present themselves down the road before anyone else. Entitlements and the processes associated with obtaining entitlements are like second nature to this discipline. A good project manager understands planning departments, Department of Transportation (DOT), zoning boards, site planning procedures, civil engineering, permit procedures, land disturbance, environmental testing and procedures, lease terms, financial terminology, weather factors, political pressure, union labor, salesmanship, change orders, general construction lingo, deal terms, capital constraints, community outreach, comparative analysis, market planning, etc…
Again, if you have ever met a successful real estate developer, you have met a good project manager or ‘Deal Maker’. Most high ranking development executives in large organizations are very talented project managers. Knowledge is usually earned the hard way by these disciplines which is exactly why you need them.
Talented project managers have made millions of dollars in mistakes throughout their career and exactly why they can help you avoid these costly mishaps. Obviously the complexity of your project determines the level of project management experience required. If you are building a muffin shop in an existing building that supports your operations with minimal modifications, chances are you can get away without a project manager. If you are building a free standing 6,000 SF restaurant in a metropolitan trade area, chances are you need a good project manager on your side. Like most talent out there today, they are difficult to find and retain but worth every penny you spend on them.
For more information on our unique approach to project management, please do not hesitate to call us direct anytime or shoot us an e-mail with your questions and we will be sure to promptly respond.