What’s A Site Selection Consultant & How Do You Find One?
As businesses reach a growth threshold, they will start to invest in ways to expand their footprint. This expansion period may lead to critical decision-making that ensures an efficient geographical distribution of assets in places that genuinely benefit from growth.
Because of the growing demand, companies may seek assistance from site selection service providers to help streamline processes. But before you acquire their assistance, it helps to ask yourself: What is a Site Selection Consultant and how do you find one?
Please continue reading below to discover what these experts do and how they fit into your growth plan.
What’s A Site Selection Consultant?
A Site Selection Consultant becomes an integral player on your project team to perform analyses and offer recommendations on where to geographically deploy selected business operations. The Site Selection Consultant brings requisite expertise to address both location strategy (across a physical footprint and perhaps new or greenfield locations) or identify an optimal location for a single business operation.
Site Location Consultants are well versed in where to deploy operations such as manufacturing plants, distribution centers, R&D/Innovation Centers, corporate headquarters, and back/middle offices.
How do consultants identify the best long-range locations? A time-tested process is followed. This embraces several interlocking phases.
- Discovery: Objectives, Requirements, Criteria, Geographic Search Region, Timing, Confidentiality.
- Screening: Multi-round elimination process. Screening factors and acceptable thresholds are established that ultimately lead to a shortlist of locations (typically less than five).
- Due Diligence Evaluation: Virtual and on-the-ground investigation of shortlisted locations. Varied factors are considered such as labor market, qualified sites/buildings, utility infrastructure, transportation, business climate (regulation), quality of life/cost of living, education/training, market/supplier proximity, natural disaster risk, and business operating costs. Locations are ranked/scored. Typically, 2 or 3 are earmarked for final analysis.
- Commitments: This phase involves securing final real estate and incentives commitments. There is close coordination with other team players including technology, human resources, financial, legal, engineering, and corporate affairs. End result is selection of the ultimate location.
How Do You Find A Site Selection Consultant?
There are several pathways to identify potentially well qualified Site Selection Consultants. Among them are:
- Referrals from companies in your industry
- Referrals from companies outside your industry, especially if they have recently sited new business operations
- Internet search (a good key phrase would be Site Selection Consultants)
- Literature search to determine authors of site selection/location trend articles pertaining to your industry
- Careful review of site selection consulting websites
- Contacting pertinent trade associations
It is then advisable to reach out via email and/or telephone to at least two consultants. Briefly explain the activation/need, ask for background on the company and relevant experience. Stress confidentiality and issue a nondisclosure agreemnt NDA. Then arrange for a more formal introductory meeting. Zoom or TEAMS are the most common initial meeting vehicles in today’s world.
A typical introductory meeting embodies the following:
- Mutual introductions
- Company/Consulting firm
- Company project and consulting teams
- Summary of the project and services required
- Highlights of any internal work done to date
- Project timing
- Consultant experience with comparable projects
- Consultant thoughts on the components/phases of a study involving the project described
- Broad ranges of timing/fee
- The consultant team members, should the project start in the near term
- Request a Proposal from the Consultant
- Request at least two past client references
- Agree on communications/confidentiality protocols
- Determine points of contact for further questions
Once Proposals are received, review for compatibility including:
- Understanding of the need
- Efficacy of the study approach
- Consulting firm qualifications
- Project team qualifications
- Chemistry between the teams and project leads
- Responsiveness of the Consultant