by: Andrew Ubben, CSO of RES

More often than not, we find our clients share a common thread: They have clients too!

Their clients are internal approvers (executives, boards, committees) and implementers(real estate, transaction management, construction). And too often, we see strategies created in the natural language of strategists, but not the actionable language of their own internal clients, creating unnecessary complexity and confusion for true key stakeholders.

This is the number one reason for failure or delays in approval and implementation of a strategic plan. The solution to avoiding stalls or failure is to create a strategy that proactively speaks the language of your true stakeholders. Seems obvious, right? Surprisingly not. Here are some proven methods we have learned over the years for creating successful strategies:

1. Prove validity.
Of course, you must have the fundamentals right. A half-baked strategy isn’t going anywhere. We’re assuming you have a data driven strategy that takes local market intelligence into account (see our last newsletter). Your job isn’t to teach executives about data or statistics, but to secure their confidence in the process and recommendations in order to drive decision making. Whenever possible, separate the process from the message. Cover the methodology beforehand if possible, or dedicate it to a small portion of the meeting. No matter what, it should never try to steal the show.

2. Speak the right language. 
Jettison the jargon. Focus on the message. Know the currency of action in your organization, and build a business case that aligns. The better equipped you are to support the executive business case decision processes, the quicker approval decisions will be made. The best strategies provide outputs that directly support or even provide critical assumptions in business case development – many of these will be financial or performance metrics such as total sales volume, customer traffic, and estimated run-off. Regardless of your capabilities, do your best to develop a “Rosetta Stone” that aligns your outputs to those that matter most to your stakeholders.

3. Make it actionable. 
Be specific.  Do as much of the prep for the strategies’ inheritors as possible. Zip codes, mile-based circular radii or square kilometer-level recommendations can directionally help, but leave much to interpretation forcing necessary follow-up that consumes valuable time. You can do better by providing location-specific, intersection or site level recommendations that are pre-qualified for zoning, development, co-tenancy or general fit. Then prioritize and rank your recommendations, both from an overall value perspective and a timing perspective.

4. Anticipate follow-up. 
Strategies are living things because markets are living things. The first approval may not be the last approval. Be ready to provide ongoing support and rework, and see strategy and implementation as a cyclical process. Your process must be flexible enough to adapt to re-runs and adjustments based on actual market conditions and availability. Some of the biggest mistakes that strategic delivery groups make are 1) leaving the table  too soon or delivering inflexible scenarios that can’t harmonize with market realities. The only way to avoid this is to continuously and proactively stay in the conversation and manage the feedback loop. Your clients will thank you!


As CSO of Real Estate Strategies, Andrew is responsible for all client strategic consulting activity nationwide. Andrew provides expertise in the development and delivery of strategic solutions for client real estate portfolios and has vast expertise across a number of industries including healthcare, retail, telecom, oil & gas, industrial, wholesale and others.
For more information, please contact: