30 Steps To Business

Franchise Process

Non-Franchise Process

Lease Renewal Variables

Rent Reduction Variables

Relocation Variables

Option Variables

Landlord Disputes

Demographic Report

Shopping Center Lists

New Center Variables

New Space Variables

Tenant Rent Formula

Tenant Classification

Vanilla Shell

Acceptance Letter

Rejection Letter

Letter of Intent

Lease Terms

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Proactive vs Reactive Leasing

Experience and Photo

Industry Contacts

Profiled Shopping Centers
























































Non-Franchise Process  

You have reviewed your skills and talents and found a “nitch” that can benefit other people.  This has inspired you to become an “Entrepreneur.”    Also ask yourself if you have the experience, exposure or contacts that can provide basic retail traits.  Does your experience contain the following:

Legal Experience
Computer Expertise
Inventory Mangement
Real Estate & Construction
Employee Recruiting & Hiring

These are just a few of the areas you will become involved with as you proceed down the path to opening your own business. 


Location!  Location! Location!

The most efficient method is to identify where your customers live and where they currently shop.  Also evaluate the shopping center location within “X” distance you think your customers are willing to commute.  Sometimes this distance and the customer profile representing your target consumer will be in conflict.  If this happens you will have to expand your range or select another business.  In some cases, relocation will have to be considered, if the business is opened and struggling.


retailcriteria.com also recommends picking 4 to 5 different potential sites.   This is suggested because many times your desired space size may not be available within your desired timeframe.  You will also learn that each Developer or Landlord has there own “sense of urgency” in responding to your request. Contacting numerous Landlords will also allow you to compare rent quotes.


Demographics is a very important factor to the site process.  Having demographics prepared on your potential site can give you the population, household income, race and other information that will assist in your location decision.  retailcriteria.com can help you with this process which can be done with little information.  All we need is the street address, city, state and zip code of your site and the closest intersection.

Contacting the Landlord

If you cannot find the Landlord’s name in the phone book, ask an existing tenant.  If you are comfortable sharing a little information, many existing tenants are very receptive to sharing information to add a new retailer to their center. 


As one of our services, retailcriteria.com can provide you with a list of the centers in your respective area by just giving us the county(ies) you are interested in.  Our list of centers will include the following;


·   Landlord Name

·   Landlord Address, City, State and Zip

·   Landlord Phone

·   Center Name

·   Center Address, City, State and Zip

·   Total Square Footage of Center

·   Major Anchors (if available)



Once the location is determined, the Landlord or Representative of the center will prepare a written proposal.  The number of properties that are assigned to the Representative, will determine the length of time before you receive the proposal.  If the Landlord or Representative is assigned numerous properties, he may just quote a number over the phone.


If the quoted price is much higher than other properties you have contacted, the reason may be because vacancies in the trade area are few in number.  If this is not the case, counter the price on the proposal.  retailcriteria.com has the ability to research your proposed type of business and provide you with a summary of the typical occupancy structure your kind of business can afford.  We can also provide the average sales volume for your chosen business based on the kind of shopping center location you are targeting.  These two variables will allow you to “back in” to the maximum rent you should pay for the desired space.  For further explanation go to Tenant Rent Formula.


After receiving a verbal or written proposal, return your response within 3 to 5 days.  Do not respond the same day because this will send a signal you are too anxious.  Also do not forget that you are competing with other current tenants who may pay more than you are offering based on their profit margins.  Keep it realistic.


A realistic counter proposal is determined by supply and demand.  Is there an overabundance of new centers opening in your prospective area?  Has the community prohibited new growth?  There is no blanket answer.  But the more Landlords you talk to, the better “feeling” you will have as to who is chasing whom.


If your new location search is moving slower than expected, remember the Landlord may not be the one that is being unreasonable.  This is because in almost every shopping center in America, regardless of the size, there is always one or two tenants that are considered the ANCHORS.  Maybe it is as small as a Starbucks or as large as a Wal-Mart, but there is always at least one anchor.  This is the tenant who received numerous concessions as an inducement to locate where they did.  Most small tenants want the “anchor” concessions but the Landlord cannot afford to provide them to every tenant.  Remember to keep your expectations realistic.


Now that you have counter-offered, the Landlord may be taking his time in returning the proposal to you.  He may be “shopping” your space to other prospective tenants or maybe he perceives that you are trying to “low-ball” him.  Whatever the reason, be patient.  Remember if you had signed the original proposal you would be paying a lot more rent for the next 5 to 10 years.


If the Landlord won’t concede to the counter-offer, realize another potential tenant may have contacted the Landlord for the same space.  Maybe you need to reconsider how much you really need the open points of the proposal versus the possibility of losing the location.  Here you must make the decision to “hang tough” or give in.


Letter of Intent

The signed Letter of Intent states both parties have reached an agreement and the lease will now be drafted.  The Letter of Intent does not signify the space is officially yours.  Only when a hard copy of a fully executed lease, signed by both parties, is placed in your hands, is the space considered yours.



After the initial negotiations, your Landlord may take up to 2 weeks to draft and send your lease.  When you receive the lease, read it carefully and we recommend you have a Real Estate Attorney review it before execution.  retailcriteria.com does not provide legal services at this time, but we do have Attorneys that will negotiate complete legal comments.  When this process is completed, the lease will be submitted to you for your review and signature.  This offered service will be billed directly to you by the attorney and normally does not exceed $3,000.  Contact retailcriteria.com for more information.


Once the final draft of the lease has been sent to you for your signature, be responsive.  Depending on the number of changes made, the lease execution by the tenant should normally happen within 1 to 2 weeks.  Remember, another tenant may approach your Landlord while you are sitting on the lease.


The real estate expression “Time Kills Deals” is a very real statement.


The negotiations are completed, the lease is tenant executed and returned to the Landlord.  You should receive the fully executed lease in 2 to 3 weeks depending on the size and bureaucracy of the development company. 


Landlord Construction

The length of time it will take for Landlord construction depends on whether he/she invested any time prior to the lease being executed.  Since some tenants back away at the last moment, some Landlords wait until the lease is fully executed before starting their construction responsibilities.  Communicate with your Landlord throughout the lease execution and you will have your answer.



Notice of Turnover

Upon completion of the Landlord construction, you should receive a certified or registered letter.  This letter is called the “Notice of Turnover.”  It indicates the Landlord has completed his part of the construction and you may begin your construction.


Before you sign the “Notice of Turnover”, you should inspect the premises to confirm the Landlord fulfilled his construction obligation according to the lease.  With lease in hand, take a “walk through” your store as if you were purchasing a home.  If you are not knowledgeable in this area, hire a professional contractor.  Make sure the construction is completed as stated in the lease. 


Accepting or rejecting turnover has numerous ramifications.  Accepting is always the most desirable way to go because now all of the variables standing between you and your new store opening are within your control.  Sometimes Landlords do not complete the work as they were required to do and now you must make a choice.  Evaluate the complexity and expense of the unfinished items prior to rejecting the “Notice of Turnover.”  If the Landlord neglected to install handrails in the bathroom which cost less than $50 and takes less than an hour to install, retailcriteria.com would recommend signing the “Notice of Turnover.”  On the other hand, if the Landlord did not install the ceiling, with cost exceeding $1,000, then a more formal rejection letter is necessary.  It is up to you on how “picky” you want to be.  Remember - rejecting turnover will delay your opening.


Rejection and Accepting turnover letters are available from retailcriteria.com

·        Rejection Turnover Letter

·        Accepted Turnover Letter


Rent Commencement Date

If the space is accepted, a “Notice of Turnover” will be signed and returned to the Landlord.  At this time your rent commencement date will be established which indicates when you will start paying rent on your space.  Unfortunately some Landlords will generate a Turnover Letter while their contractors are still working in your space.  In this case, the Landlord will actually be accelerating your rent start date without you responding.


To ensure you have enough time to complete your construction, begin the process of construction when the Letter of Intent is signed.  The following list contains some of the items that need to be completed before you start construction:

·        Bids for Construction

·        Preparing of Store Blueprints

·        Placing Ads for Employees

·        Identifying where and how you will advertise your grand opening.


To determine tenant construction time, try to allow 1 to 2 weeks per every $10,000 you expect to spend on construction.  Add 2 to 3 weeks after the contractors finish for employees to stock the store and complete the displays.


If you are experienced in organization and planning, you may be lucky to have  “Free Rent” for a few days.  For example: If Rent Commencement Date is 60 days after Notice of Turnover, but you complete your construction, open your store and generate sales in 55 days, you will receive 5 days of free rent.  This free rent “bonus” is based on lease wording.


The Rent Commencement Date will be noted in the lease.  Landlords will frequently try to mandate a specific date in the lease for your rent commencement.  This should be avoided.  You should try to tie the rent commencement date to “X” number of days after turnover.  There are two widely accepted sentences to address this issue.  The lease could state:


This sentence indicates that there will be no “free rent”

The rent commencement date will be “60” days after turnover or when Tenant opens for business whichever comes first.”


This sentence indicates there will be “free rent”, but only if you open within 60 days of accepting turnover.

"The rent commencement date will be "60" days after turnover regardless of when the Tenant opens for business."


The number 60 used above is subject to negotiation.  It could be 30 or 120 for example.

Grand Opening

The day has arrived.  The store is completed, employees hired, shelves are stocked and you're ready for business.   The long process is completed and you are your own boss.  But what about the Entrepreneur’s store that isn’t ready by “Rent Commencement Date?”  Unfortunately, this is the worst situation to be in.  If you see that your store is not going to be ready, try to motivate contractors with overtime incentives, etc.  There is nothing worse than having to pay rent while not generating sales.


We hope you have found this overview valuable.  We welcome your feedback and look forward to expanding this website to provide additional services in the future.


Good Luck to You and Your New Adventure!

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