30 Steps to Your Grand Opening

Opening your first retail location is analogous to riding a roller coaster blindfolded. If you can’t see where the twists and turns are, you can’t brace or prepare yourself for them.

The sequence below was created to provide you with an overview of the entire process. The rest of this website supports this initial 30 step overview in much more detail.

The Steps

1  Analyze and Determine Your Customer Profile

Define what you are going to sell or what service you are going to provide to a targeted audience.

2  Review Demographics in the Area

Determine where your customer lives by driving surrounding neighborhoods, looking at the placement of existing retailers, and touring potential shopping centers.

Try to zero in on geographic areas that contain your target audience, whether it is a wealthy suburb or an inner city ethnic area. Match the area to the clientele you believe is your target audience.

3  Identify Prospective Centers

When identifying your prospective center, make a note of the closest street intersection. These centers should be located conveniently near your preferred customer base. Your PRS Professional can propose demographic profile reports based on these instructions.

4  Visit Your Prospective Centers

Make a list of the shopping centers that surround your target audience. Your PRS Professional can help provide you with this information.
You can find out more information by searching out Shopping Center Lists under the Site Selection subject area.

5  Quality of Traffic

Compare the quality of traffic generated by each of the centers and the respective anchor Tenant(s).

6  Select New Center Variables

From major cities to the smallest town, please understand there was a Site Selection process, which resulted in the retailers building their sites where they did.

This is included to share with you a list of variables that most national tenants consider when selecting a location.

You can find out more information by searching out New Center Variables under the Site Selection subject area.

7  Decide on Your Top 3 Preferred Centers

After you have viewed your prospective centers, make a list of the preferred locations.

Have demographic reports prepared on each shopping center, to compare which location mirrors your target audience the closest. Your PRS Professional can provide you with this information based on the intersection you recorded in Step 3 above.

You can find out more information on demographic reports and analyses, by searching out Demographic Analysis under the Demographics subject area.

8  Request Written Proposals

Contact the landlord of your first and second preferred choices. For each response from a landlord, compare the details of the proposal by using the "New Space Variables" provided by your PRS Professional. Eventually you will want to include all these variables. Sometimes a third or fourth draft of a proposal is necessary to introduce all the variables.

The negotiation process from the proposal to a lease between the Landlord and the Tenant is analogous to the dating-engagement-marriage sequence for couples. You must start out slowly and win the Landlord over, then introduce more complex issues.

Once a relationship has formed and the Landlord has “time” invested in you, the Landlord is much less reluctant to end the relationship.

9  Final Proposal

Once a final proposal is generated and executed by both the Landlord and the Tenant, a signed "Letter of Intent" is created.

10  Letter of Intent

The basis by which a lease will be generated is incorporated into a "Letter of Intent". This letter reflects the details agreed upon by the Landlord and Tenant to date. If either party changes these agreed upon business points after the “Letter of Intent” is signed, the risk of having the other party kill the deal is very high.

Sometimes a proposal evolves from the Letter of Intent, which is perfectly acceptable. The goal is to have various economic and business terms agreed to, which helps you secure the location.

11  Generating the Lease

Once a lease is generated, be responsive to the Landlord.

12  Lease Reviewed by Tenant

Have an experienced Real Estate Attorney review the lease document and provide changes that reflect your specific business needs and concerns.

Your PRS Professional can provide introductions to Attorneys that have negotiated for national retailers across the country. There is no charge for this service. Contact Your PRS Professional for more information.

13  Tenant Comments

To show sincere interest, lease comments should be typed and returned to the Landlord within a maximum of 7-10 days.

Remember, until you have a fully signed lease, your Landlord will continue to offer “your” space to other prospective Tenants. Some of these prospective Tenants may offer more rent dollars.

14  Lease Form Negotiated

The Landlord's Attorney and your Attorney, or authorized representative, will address every provision to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion.

15  Completion of Lease Negotiation

Once fully negotiated, you are very close to a deal.

Now you should focus on construction plans, contractor bids, hiring employees, etc.

The goal is for the Tenant to be prepared to begin leasehold improvements after the lease is fully executed.

16  Landlord Generates Lease Documents for Execution

Once the lease is fully negotiated the Landlord will normally produce the final documents in a few days.

17  Tenant Review and Execution of Lease

This is your last chance to double check the terms and conditions per your original agreement of the deal. If you accept the lease, return the signed copy to the Landlord.

18  Lease Reviewed by Tenant

The Landlord will review and sign the lease. An original copy of the final lease will be returned to the Tenant.

19  Fully Executed Lease Received by Tenant

CONGRATULATIONS! You are well on your way to opening your own business, but there is much more to do.

20  Landlord Work Commenced

According to the lease, the Landlord will begin their work to the interior and/or exterior of your space.

Occasionally a Landlord will not even start making plans or talking to contractors until after the lease is fully executed. This is because some Tenants “walk away” or get cold feet at the 11th hour.

Note: Within your lease, try to include a projected deadline for the Landlord to complete the work and turn the space over to the Tenant.

21  Tenant Notified of Turnover

This notice should be a formal part of the process. It usually consists of a certified letter sent to the address noted in the lease.

22  Tenant Inspection of Turnover

With lease in hand, the Tenant should inspect the premises to ensure compliance with the Landlord’s work, as defined in the construction exhibit of the lease.

23  Acceptance or Rejection of Turnover

To accept or reject turnover is a major Tenant decision. Acceptance of your space triggers your rent commencement date. To reject turnover postpones your projected opening date.

24  Turnover Accepted by Tenant

If accepted, send the Landlord a letter as an acknowledgement.

25  Turnover Rejected by Tenant

If you rejected the space, send the Landlord a letter which indicates the work still needing completion.

26  Landlord Completes Required Work

If you had to go through the turnover rejection step, most Landlords will resolve the open issues quickly because the sooner you start your business, the sooner they can start collecting rent.

27  Tenant Required Work

Once turnover is accepted, the Tenant should be ready to start interior work. Each lease only provides “x” number of days to complete construction and be ready for business.

If you did not prepare for turnover earlier in the process you could miss your rent commencement date and have to pay rent without being open for business. Not good.

28  Tenant Work Completed

Your store is completed, the products are on the shelves, your software solutions are in place, and the employees are hired and, hopefully, trained. You're ready to open!

30  Your PRS Professionals Provide Ongoing Support

Your journey has begun, but there are so many more scenarios coming your way!

  • Renewals.
  • Options.
  • Relocations.

Your PRS Professional is always here to help you!
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