With 25 years of retail property management experience, Yvonne Jones, CCIM, CPM, managing director of asset and property management for McCaffery Interests in Chicago, has seen many retail trends come and go. She has helped her clients make the most of boom markets and survive bust markets. And through it all, she has invested in the professional development opportunities afforded by retail industry events, such as the International Council of Shopping Center's annual RECon expo. “There are always so many opportunities at ICSC,” Jones says. “It's a great place to strengthen the long-distance business relationships you maintain throughout the year as well as sit down to present a property, negotiate, or celebrate a deal you closed.”
As a featured panelist at the RECon 2014 event, Jones will share insights on how retailers are using technology, including social media, to effectively market and position their properties. Commercial Investment Real Estate asked Jones to share a few of the trends she's seeing right now in the retail industry and how participation at networking events such as RECon has helped her career.
CIRE: How are retail property owners and managers successfully using social media tools and strategies to their advantage?
Jones: Many of the large institutional retail owners have active and engaging social media programs. A great example of a successful strategy is in practice by the owners of the mixed-use Atlantic Station development in Atlanta. They have effectively integrated tenants and local area retailers into their social media strategy and have amassed a large number of engaged followers and fans. While it is hard to translate the efforts of a social media campaign into exact dollars, it is a must-do for those who own and operate retail assets around the country. Community and retailer engagement is really the key. Now more than ever, landlords find themselves partnering with retailers, vendors, and other providers to enhance awareness and recognition of their properties in the marketplace. The cool place to shop is the one that is connected and active.
CIRE: How are consumer retail trends, including online shopping, affecting space-use decisions among property owners, managers, and tenants?
Jones: Retailers are looking for less space and seeking opportunities to downsize whenever possible, especially in the smaller markets where there may be slower job and housing growth. Consumer habits are also changing. The Internet, and the availability of information instantaneously on handheld devices, allows them to price compare quicker than ever before. This puts pressure on the retailer to not only have comparable pricing, but to offer better customer service and an overall more-favorable in-store shopping experience than the competition.
CIRE: How did you get started in the industry? How has your involvement with professional organizations benefited your career?
Jones: I have been involved in commercial real estate since 1989 when I was hired to manage a portfolio of more than 200 U.S. Post Offices located throughout the country. Since that time, I have been involved in many acquisition, disposition, and management assignments of different types of assets ranging in size from $2 million to $350 million. I'm currently responsible for the management and growth of McCaffery's third-party managed assets that consist of multifamily, retail, office, and mixed-use properties located in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and other select markets across the U.S.
My involvement with the CCIM Institute began in 1997 when I moved to Chicago. I quickly saw the value membership, networking, and local chapter participation would add to my career. I participated in a wide-range of networking events in the Chicago area and served as the CCIM Illinois Chapter President in 2002.
I have also found great value in other organizations, including the Commercial Real Estate Women Network. With a focus on helping women advance in the commercial real estate industry, CREW is geared toward helping women achieve their career goals through education, training, and experience. My involvement with the Institute of Real Estate Management and International Council of Shopping Centers has also been invaluable.
CIRE: What advantages does having dual CCIM/CPM designations give you?
Jones: I earned my CCIM pin in 1999 and chose to pursue the designation because of the education the Institute provides and the recognition of the designation in the industry. I earned my Certified Property Manager designation in 2005. Adding this to my credentials further enhance my knowledge and network. Having both designations has been instrumental in doing deals and developing new business, especially with assignments that involve both leasing and management. Together, CCIM and CPM are a powerful combination.
Jennifer Norbut is senior editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate. If you have a story worth sharing in CCIM Q&A, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.