Saint Replay: Changing landscape for development strategy: Part 5 Compete outside the box

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By P. Michael Saint, Chairman and CEO, The Saint Consulting Group

So, how do companies use the planning process to raise barriers to entry into a geographic market?

Some participate in the local planning process in ways that seek to limit the areas where new competitors are allowed to locate. Some seek to ban new commercial zones, for example, or convince governments to limit the size, density or design of new buildings to keep out the latest formats of competitors. Some seek big box limitations that ban stores that exceed a certain square footage, while others limit lot coverage, enlarge open space requirements, set minimum buffer zones.

Or they may sign leases that block the landlord from leasing space to a competitor. Or they may buy land to prevent their competitor from locating a building on it.

Or they may help neighbors urge the local city council to refuse to permit the new entity or they may file or support lawsuits that seek to do the same thing.

All of these tactics have been used by hospitals, quarries, retailers, shopping malls and other firms to protect their assets from unwanted competition.

Not only are these tactics not illegal or unethical, they are a crucial part of the competitive strategy for companies that must protect and grow market share in today’s highly competitive markets. They have become smart business for those who think outside the box.

Mike Saint is chairman and CEO of The Saint Consulting Group, email

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