||By Dennis J. Shea, Managing Director, FastFacility.com, Westbury, NY
One of the most pressing challenges for any business executive is balancing the wealth of information available on the Internet, while finding the time to make that information useful. This is particularly true for those involved with finding new properties for their companies' expansion and relocation goals.
Traditional commercial and industrial real estate listings were always the basic tool used by site selection executives, consultants, and developers. The Internet has made this search process somewhat less time consuming, but the information available through online real estate listings — square footage, costs, perhaps a photograph or two — is not necessarily complete enough to make a decision.
Multitude of Opportunities
Moreover, while the Internet has created a multitude of new opportunities for site selection, in many cases, it has not simplified the process. In fact, it may be harder than ever to cut through the clutter and find exactly the information relevant to one's particular site search. Additionally, manufacturers may be locked out of sites that require user ID or are fee-driven. Manufacturers can sometimes still get information because many economic development agencies and utilities offer free access to their own database listings of available properties in their areas. But these agencies are often working with limited budgets and may not have the resources available to maintain their listings in an up-to-date fashion. While they are generally excellent sources for learning about economic incentives, a site selector will likely need to do extensive investigation with the economic developers to get this information, and that means valuable time is passing. Adding to the difficulty of site selection is the increasing tendency of companies to cut travel budgets. Executives trying to find locations simply do not have the funds available to jet around the country looking at dozens or even hundreds of properties. This is especially true for those seeking properties outside the United States, where travel restrictions may make the process even more difficult.
Perhaps most pressing is the time factor. In today's market, manufacturers do not have the luxury of time when a relocation or expansion decision must be made. Generally, executives must find their site and begin construction or renovation within a few short months of starting their property search. In the past, one might have taken 12 or even 18 months to make such a decision. Today, it's just not feasible.
The obvious solution for site selectors is to find a source where all the information they need is available in one place. This allows them to narrow their searches quickly and then possibly use the more traditional means of searching once they've settled on a particular region or group of properties. By combining cutting-edge business technologies with an easy-to-navigate interface, databases like FastFacility.com make it possible to find available properties specific to a user's needs expediently, confidentially, and at no cost to the user. These sites can offer a wide range of useful information. Users can choose to search for either a building or site, then select among several criteria and receive an immediate list of matching properties. In the case of FastFacility.com, listings offer:
* Maps — GIS-powered, close-up detail of the property location, with surrounding roadways and railways clearly marked.
* Incentives — a summary of available state and local economic incentives, including potential tax breaks and special programs.
* Demographics — detailed reports on the region's population statistics, key for anticipating the area's potential workforce and customer base.
* Direct contact information — phone, web, and e-mail — for the people who've listed the properties.
Some sites allow users to send a custom search request should their database search fail to locate a matching property. FastFacility.com has completed more than 400 custom searches to date for users from small industrials all the way up to Fortune 500 giants.
This type of technology is clearly striking a chord with site selectors. This year, FastFacility.com is on track to surpass 1.25 million visitors. "It is a great resource for cutting through, in a speedy fashion, to find just what is available out there," says Ed Bollero, director of marketing for Indiana-based Mark Line Industries.
Site selectors will always need to make careful choices as they search for their next business properties. And no technology can replace personal contact and site visitation, which will always be the most important factors in any location decision. But in the globally competitive market in which we all do business, the availability of information and the tools to make efficient use of that information, can make or break a relocation or expansion project.
"With FastFacility.com I am able to significantly reduce my search time in finding potential sites for my client's expansion needs," says Dean J. Uminski, tax executive with Crowe Chizek and Company LLC. "This tool allows me to locate potential sites with the exact parameters (building type and size, land availability, etc.) that I need for a specific project, thereby reducing the need for added travel in the preliminary stages of site selection work."
Technologies like FastFacility.com put powerful, custom-designed tools into decision-makers' hands that can permanently change the site selection process for the better — and that can only have positive results for the bottom line.
For more information, contact: FastFacility.com, 400 Post Avenue, Westbury, NY 11590 800-735-2732 fax: 516-338-0100 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.fastfacility.com or http://www.AreaDevelopment.com