I sat down with Tom Eilers to discuss the changing landscape due to Covid-19 to hear more about how it has affected tenants and to outline what steps Madison Corporate Group (MCG) has and is taking to further partner with tenants to help drive success during these uncertain times.
1. How has Covid-19 affected the tenants in the shopping center?
Each and every tenant in our shopping centers has been affected by COVID. For our individual entrepreneurs (cleaners, camera shops, restaurants, salons, clothing stores, nail salons shoe stores, jewelry stores, dental offices, pet stores, coffee/tea shops, dance studios, craft stores, insurance, tax, and real estate offices, physical therapy facilities, ice cream shops, florists, travel agencies, furniture stores, and art supply stores) shutting down their livelihoods – their sources of income – is a traumatic experience. In our centers, we have at least one store in each of the above categories.
Although some businesses were not shut down completely, such as grocery and liquor stores, traffic was down with a corresponding reduction in sales.
2. Were some industries more affected than others?
Absolutely – some businesses were more affected than others. Most severely impacted were those for which close physical proximity was the rule rather than the exception – physical therapy facilities and banquet halls. Some of our tenants in the food and beverage industry upped their game and outreach to their customer base and actually fared very well, under the circumstances.
3. What were some of the actions taken by Madison Corporate Group to help tenants?
We quickly realized that governmental assistance would be available to small businesses and not to property owners. That was a hard pill to swallow since we still had to pay our fixed costs such as taxes, utilities and insurance. And, in addition, we needed to retain our full staff in order to maintain the common areas and provide daily on-site presence for security purposes since many stores were closed when COVID first emerged.
Therefore, here are some of the proactive steps MCG initiated:
- MCG mobilized our professional partners – legal, tax, banking, and accounting firms – (a) to make sure our tenants were aware of PPP loans/grants and (b) to assist our tenants in the application process.
- MCG informed all our tenants that we’re able to remain open or, when they reopened, that we would install additional signage along the front of our centers.
- MCG provided outside seating and screening for our restaurants and diverted parking and traffic to accommodate this.
- MCG offered, at its expense – free to tenants – the services of a web site design and marketing firm to up their website and on-line presence.
4. Do you see further actions taken by Madison Corporate Group to be able to adapt to further uncertainty?
These are some of the new procedures/protocols we have established going forward to enhance each of our tenant’s probability of success.
- Initial conversations as tenants join our centers will include a comprehensive dialogue on their website and on-line presence. With our web site partner, Point of Action Marketing, we will be able to provide corrective solutions if necessary. Since this is an ever-changing environment, to the extent our tenants desire, we will monitor their online progress and suggest enhancements during the lease term.
- At each center, we will have an action plan to implement if outside restaurant seating is necessary; or outside activity areas need to be provided for sport-related activities (e.g. Karate instruction) or screened health club workout areas.
- Messaging is extremely important. We will be upgrading digital message boards to prominently display tenants’ outreach to their customers. And, where they do not exist at our centers – we will add them.