24 Jul 2023
Scott Berta | Manager, Industrial Development
One of the pinnacles of the economic development process is the SITE VISIT. We all strive to achieve this coveted level of interest in our communities. As an economic developer, you possess valuable knowledge about the community’s heartbeat, be it ongoing road constructions, the latest eateries, upcoming events, or soon-to-be-available properties on the market.
Every aspect, ranging from quality of life to workforce availability to utilities, community culture, and community demographics, must be carefully considered to present the site, thereby increasing the chances of success during the site visit. Conducting a successful site visit involves blending local knowledge and creatively presenting the information to meet the needs and expectations of the prospect, which enhances the likelihood of closing the deal and is more of an art than a science.
5 Things to Keep in Mind When Planning for a Successful Site Visit:
1. Pay Attention to the Details
As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.” Site visits are just like weddings. You focus on the flowers, the venue, the reception and the small, unexpected moments, like the flower girl walking down the aisle, often leave the lasting impression. Neglecting the finer aspects of your site visit plan can lead to unforeseen issues. You never know what a prospect is going to see that stands out that you never even saw because you see it every day. Sometimes we are too close to the forest to see the trees. Take a step back and view your community with fresh eyes. Look for unique aspects that might captivate the prospect’s attention.
2. Understand and Meet Expectations
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about what the prospect wants to see, hear, or know when they visit. Your state project managers and partners are there to help manage and fulfill as many expectations as possible. You don’t have to go into a site visit blindly. While you may have to infer certain preferences, avoid making assumptions. Prioritize the topics that matter most to the company. Do not spend precious time discussing workforce data when the company wants to discuss education.
3. Meticulously Plan, Leave No Detail Unattended
Now that you know the prospect’s intentions and the time constraints, it’s time to plan the visit meticulously. Is your site dressed up and ready for a visit?
- Road conditions: Ensure roads are well-maintained, addressing mowing, draining mudholes, operational gates, clearing fallen trees, and grading eroded areas for better access.
- Transportation: Determine if cars, SUVs, or UTVs are required for site access.
- Presentation essentials: Arrange for tents, chairs, power supply (generator), audiovisual equipment, and even drones if needed.
- Accommodations: Consider provisions such as water, snacks, and clean restroom facilities.
- Entry into town: Plan the direction of their entry and explore options like a police escort or helicopter tour for expedited access and a unique perspective on the community.
Not all projects require this level of attention, but you should have a basic level of service that you have always planned for any visit and reliable vendors on standby to help you provide consistent service.
4. Think Ahead: Consider Dining Arrangements
It’s essential to carefully consider any dining arrangements. If the visit coincides with the lunch hour and the prospect expresses a desire to dine, direct your focus towards anticipating the needs and preferences of the dining experience.
- Seating: Round tables or rectangle tables? Plan seating to alleviate the “where do I sit” moment and encourage topic-driven conversations.
- Menu: Pre-fix menu, buffet, or order off the menu? Cater to dietary preferences and allergies.
- Setting: Public or private? If private, ensure a discreet entrance to avoid drawing attention to the visit.
- Bus Arrival: If the group arrives by bus, designate a waiting area for the bus during the meal.
By thinking ahead and planning accordingly, you can create a seamless and enjoyable experience that adds value and doesn’t derail the site visit.
5. Engage with Interactive Presentations
When it is time for your presentation, how do you capture your audience’s attention and differentiate yourself from the competition? Incorporating interactive elements into your presentations like PowerPoint, story maps, virtual reality (VR), 360 tours, videos, etc.
These interactive options breathe new life into the data prospects may have encountered from countless other sources. Provide a digital leave-behind through a QR code or a follow-up email with relevant reading materials, that can address any unanswered questions or points they may not have initially considered. You establish yourself as a thorough and reliable point of contact by providing them with the means to explore further.
Remember, to take advantage of our comprehensive Site Selection page, abundant with valuable resources to facilitate your decision-making process. Our user-friendly database offers essential data on commercial buildings available for sale or lease in Georgia that serves as a convenient avenue for our local economic development professionals to list and keep their properties updated across statewide networks.
Remember, despite careful planning, unexpected situations may arise how you handle it will leave a greater impact on the prospect as well as showcase your community’s strength. Do your homework, have a well-thought-out plan in place, and you can handle these challenges with ease and professionalism. Plan, breathe, and execute, then do what you do best – Close the Deal.