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Creating Partnership Key to Development Success

Kyle Leonard — Hr Green, Inc.

In the world of commercial development the name of the game is to accelerate the return on investment. However, in today’s highly competitive environment there is more to development than just getting plans approved, bids let and construction started. Branding is now a major consideration for businesses, creating a welcoming experience for customers with solutions that are functional and achieving these goals within a limited area while adhering to local ordinances is always a challenge.

Creating Partnership Key to Development Success
It is more important than ever to work with a real design partner when developing a site for retail use. Partners listen and seek to understand a client’s goals and then act upon this vision in developing development strategies. Building a solid long-term relationship with a firm that can meet all of a client’s land development goals will result in fewer delays, fewer disagreements and ultimately a successful and profitable development.

Joe Vavrina is a project manager in HR Green’s Land Development Business line who has developed just such a partnership with Atlanta based Chick-fil-A. HR Green has worked on numerous Chick-fil-A Restaurant site developments for more than 6 years. We asked Joe about the relationship and building trust.

  • Q. HR Green has developed a trusting relationship with Chick-fil-A. What was the first step in building this relationship?

Like any client I would say the first step for us was to provide a quality product on time and without any delays so they could get the project into construction as soon as possible. In addition, listening to the client’s goals and understanding their expectations, being responsive to their requests and meeting their aggressive timelines during the design phase and especially during construction, helped tremendously in developing their trust.

  • Q. What were the biggest challenges in building this relationship?

Understanding Chick-fil-A’s expectations with regard to the construction plans and learning how they wanted to see certain things designed was the biggest challenge. Our approach was to listen closely to what the development manager wanted to see in the way of plan presentation and what our role needed to be to help them be most effective in their development cycle. After making a few revisions to our typical plan preferences and catching the vision for how they intended to utilize us, we were able to serve Chick-fil-A the way they wanted to be served.

  • Q. How has the working relationship changed or matured over the years?

I would say the level of trust has been well established to the point where Chick-fil-A representatives know we’ll be able to meet their aggressive deadlines and overcome the challenges that arise on almost every project. They have come to trust that we will then deliver a product that not only keeps the operator’s costs in mind but is designed to minimize questions or issues during construction. Because of this trust, Chick-fil-A will typically give us the projects that are the most complex as they know we’ll get the job done for them in the most efficient manner possible.

Creating Partnership Key to Development Success

“The most important element is listening to the client’s needs and having a complete understanding of their ultimate goals.”

  • Q. You work with clients on a project from beginning all the way through construction. Why is this important?

If you don’t stay involved in every phase of a development project, nine times out of 10 a submittal will be missed, or even worse, the lack of coordination can delay construction. The main goal for all retailers is to get the business up and running ASAP. So every day that goes by without the store open is lost revenue to them. As such, it is imperative to consistently stay on top of submittals to make sure target deadlines are hit, but also to ensure all permits are coordinated for utility service to the building, as those often require long lead times. If that coordination was not completed earlier in the design process, a major delay during construction is typically realized.

  • Q. How hard is it to say no or tell a client their idea might not be the best idea and how do you do this effectively?

It is very difficult as most developers are very passionate about their projects and ideas. The most important element is listening to the client’s needs and having a complete understanding of their ultimate goals. Typically, we will look at all design options to solve a problem or an issue. If we can prove to the client that an alternate design option may either save money and/or time while achieving the projects goals, that usually will help tremendously in changing their mind. We are not hesitant to offer alternative solutions that will serve the client’s best interests when they are in keeping with the project’s specific goals.

HR Green’s priority is to understand your business, allowing quick integration to move the planning and engineering process swiftly from concept to final approval. Investment decisions must be made with confidence. To learn more contact Joseph Vavrina at jvavrina@hrgreen.com

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