Use these 7 steps to leverage technology and lease vacant retail space

With the butt kicking many retailers have taken over the last 5 years, many are cautious to expand or open new locations. Deals take longer as tenants underwrite the market with antiquated techniques, such as pulling demographics reports and traffic counts.

Motionloft has done an incredible job of pushing innovation in this space by introducing new ways to measure pedestrian and vehicle traffic in real-time.  But, if you don't have the money fund the installation of a MotionLoft sensor, here is another, very affordable way to generate actionable data you can use to convince this is the spot for a specific retail use or tenant.

Many will scoff at what I am going to say next, as it involves the use of a QR Code, but the utilization of QR Codes has been extremely poor in the CRE space for some time.

In 7 steps, and the cost of a sign or window sticker, you can literally survey passer-bys.

Create an account on is a free QR Code generator, which provides simple and elegant QR Code elements which can easily be integrated in any for lease sign or window sticker.
Create an account on PollDaddy. Using PollDaddy, anyone can create surveys, polls, and quizzes in minutes, then collect responses via a website, e-mail, iPad, Facebook, and Twitter.  PollDaddy also generates easy-to-read reports which will come in handy in a later step.
Create a poll on PollDaddy using their mobile survey theme. This theme will allow users to easily complete these surveys on any mobile device. When you create this poll, try to think of the top 3-4 tenants or uses which would do well at this location to pre-populate a couple ideas, then also include an "other" choice to allow participants to submit their own idea.
Create a QR Code which links to this PollDaddy mobile survey. Scanning the QR code or URL would immediately direct the user's mobile device to the survey where then users can submit their own idea or vote on an existing one.
Incorporate this QR Code into a large for lease sign or window cling in all your vacant suites in high traffic locations. Then, on this sign, pose the question, "What tenant would you like to see here?"
Monitor and leverage the survey results. Using the results from this survey, begin to create a prospect call sheet, targeting tenants and uses which reflect these results.
Present survey results to prospects. When you call on this target list, tell them how many participants have identified their store or use as ideal for this location.

That sounds straightforward, enough right?

Let's take it a step further and walk through a real-word example to better understand if and how this idea would actually work...

How often do you or someone you are with, walk by a vacant retail space and mumble, "Man, I wish they had an X there." If you are using this technique there is a possibility you could capture some of these data points.

Let's say you have a vacant retail suite is next to a bar which doesn't serve food after 10pm. Many of their patrons are going to hungry the moment they step out of that bar. What would they like best there? A late night pizza parlor, a 24 hour diner? Using this technique, you could actually quantify some level of demand, rather than relying on a gut instinct.

Real estate brokers and owners are calling on prospective tenants to lease their vacant space every day. The majority of these tenants are hesitant to expand without a compelling reason to do so.

If brokers and property owners to began to survey the market in this fashion, they could generate a report and target those types of businesses to call on. In other words, the survey results would basically create a highly targeted shortlist of prospects to go after.

Then, if/when the business owner voice his/her concern about the location, the agent or owner could produce the report and say, "Actually.... we recently conducted a market study over the last 30 days and 500 people said they wanted a pizza parlor at this location." By doing that, the business owner now has a compelling reason to consider your location.

No demographic survey or traffic study is going to provide that level of intelligence. This technique could be a huge selling tool which requires little to no effort on the agent's part.

If someone has actually attempted this already, I'd be curious to hear about the results.

Join the Community

Subscribe to CREtech to get our monthly newsletter curated by our editors and special event discounts and announcements.

or if you're already a member


Check out our 2024 event schedule! Registration open for CREtech New York and London.