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Buyer Beware: Navigating the Murky Waters of Site Selection

Executives must meticulously evaluate site selectors, seeking those with a proven track record, deep industry insights, and a strategic approach to partnership.

Q2 2024
Site selection seems like a straightforward process. But in reality, it is often complicated by a proliferation of individuals and firms branding themselves as site selectors without the requisite experience or expertise. This saturation has led to a buyer-beware market, where the ease of entry into the profession has diluted the pool of genuinely qualified experts.

Executives face the daunting task of sifting through a crowded marketplace, where the lack of formal certification or accreditation in site selection muddies the waters further.

There is no industry standard qualification to rely on. This absence accreditation means that virtually anyone can claim to be a site selector, making it imperative for executive leaders to exercise heightened diligence. The risk is not just in selecting an underqualified advisor but in the consequential strategic missteps that can arise from flawed site selection advice. These missteps can lead to increased costs, suboptimal location decisions, and, ultimately, a negative impact on business growth and sustainability.

Mitigating Risks
To mitigate these risks, executives must adopt a rigorous vetting process, treating the selection of a site selector as critically as the site selection itself. This requires that you take the following steps: Discerning the truly qualified from the self-anointed is a critical challenge.
  • Demand proven expertise — Look beyond titles and marketing materials. Evaluate potential site selectors based on their track record, including the breadth and depth of their experience, the diversity of their project portfolio, and the tangible outcomes of their previous engagements.
  • Request references and case studies — A credible site selector should be able to provide references and case studies that demonstrate their capability and success in managing complex site selection projects.
  • Assess the site selector’s industry knowledge and insight. True expertise in site selection is evidenced by a deep understanding of market dynamics, regulatory environments, and economic development trends. Executives should seek advisors who possess not just theoretical knowledge, but practical insights gleaned from hands-on experience.
  • Establish a partnership approach — The most effective site selection process is collaborative, involving close coordination between the executive team and the site selector. Choose a site selector who views the relationship as a strategic partnership, offering tailored advice that aligns with the company’s overarching business objectives.
A credible site selector should be able to provide references and case studies that demonstrate their capability and success. A Strategic Imperative
There is no shortage of advisors to choose from but discerning the truly qualified from the self-anointed is a critical challenge. In the landscape of corporate expansion, effective site selection is a strategic imperative, not a mere logistical task.

For executive leaders, the challenge is not only in choosing the right location but in selecting the right advisor to guide this critical journey. By applying a meticulous selection process and forging a strategic partnership with a qualified site selector, executives can navigate the complexities of site selection with confidence, ensuring decisions that are both sound and supportive of long-term business success.

This article was adapted from a presentation at the Area Development Consultants Forum Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2024.

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