David Beitz and George Daigh recently launched Beitz and Daigh Geographics, a geospatial consultancy focused on filling a gap in the retail real estate site selection and marketing process. Beitz and Daigh are veterans of using GIS to support shopping center developers with their expansion plans. They are in the business of researching and communicating location information. This is the story of two GIS professionals who have expanded beyond applying location intelligence for a single organization to solving a competitive challenge faced by many smaller developers.
LBx: Why did you take the leap in launching Beitz & Daigh Geographics?
Beitz: After 14 years with EDENS for me, and 5 years for George, it was just time to move on to a new journey. We realized that there is a tremendous market opportunity to take GIS and location information research to a new level, and to specifically support small- to medium-sized developers or investors and brokerage groups that need to better understand the market. Many of these companies don’t have a GIS department or GIS team, and as a result when they present site selection opportunities for development to retailers, they are often at a disadvantage regarding a sophisticated presentation of the market advantages associated with that particular piece of land.
LBx: What are small developers trying to achieve?
Beitz: Small developers are trying to do anything to get a step ahead. If a smaller developer wants to site a hotel or retail space—it is limited in terms of what they can provide, in particular in terms of presentation. Esri’s Site to Business is limited in its presentation capabilities, especially if you are not GIS savvy. It is hard for small developers to get the attention of the retailers without professional presentations. What they are trying to do is get potential retailers or hotels interested in their site. Getting attention for a site has everything to do with such variables as traffic counts, population density, competition, or major employers nearby. The aggregation of all this location-based information is what paints a compelling picture. See Figure 1.
LBx: What are retailers looking for in site presentations?
Daigh: Developers need to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the market. If a small developer misses a detail, like putting the retailer in the wrong place, or under-representing the competition, that developer automatically loses credibility in the eyes of the retailer. The more professional the presentation, the more confidence the retailer attributes to the developer. An outsourced GIS solution helps level the playing field between small and large developers. With an outsourced GIS solution, small developers can effectively compete against the larger developers who have access to more resources.
LBx: What types of services are you offering?
Beitz: We offer an outsourced GIS solution to companies that need location information research and that need the ability to communicate that information professionally through maps and location analytics. With our services, companies just pay for the data needed, and don’t have to invest in the infrastructure or talent to produce that data. Our research platform is based on Esri Business Analyst. As an Esri Partner we also have the ability to sell Esri software and train companies on setting up and using a GIS if they choose to go down that route.
LBx: What challenges have you encountered in launching your geo-consultancy?
Daigh: We thought that the maps would sell themselves, but instead, we find that we have a lot of market education to do around maps and GIS and the value it brings to the target audience. Surprisingly to us, many do not see the initial value of the map. It all has to be packaged right so that they can see the clear benefits.
When working with smaller companies there is always the perception that outsourcing is too expensive. But they quickly realize that we offer a very competitive package that meets their immediate needs, which is significantly less than investing in the software platform, hardware, and resources required to replicate the result in-house.
LBx: What other costs do companies avoid by going with an outsourced solution?
Beitz: Sometimes it can be hard to find a good fit for a GIS department within a larger organization. Should it be in Marketing, Development, Leasing or Research? Not only do companies avoid the hard costs of implementing a GIS system, but they also avoid the internal political battles. I think a good way to look at it is like this - if a client wants to start outsourcing first and then they want to take it in-house, we provide a path for that. Outsourcing is just a great way to test drive the results you get by using GIS.
David Beitz graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor's Degree of Science, from the College of Science and Mathematics. He has over 18 years of GIS experience with 4 years in Transportation Planning and 14 years in Commercial Real Estate at EDENS. He received the Real Estate Development Certificate from the Urban Land Institute and has also earned the LEED Green Associate designation from the Green Building Certification Institute. He currently serves as President and Co-Founder of Beitz and Daigh Geographics.
George Daigh graduated from the University of George with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Geography with a GIS Certificate. He has over 5 years of GIS experience in Commercial Real Estate where he served with David Beitz at EDENS. He currently serves as Vice-President and Co-Founder of Beitz and Daigh Geographics.
LBx: Do you provide app development services?
Beitz: We are very excited about ArcGIS Online. Esri is pushing it hard and we are experimenting with it. You can do a lot of cool things with it including migrating data to a tablet or phone for mobile apps. The new Business Analyst Online app even integrates maps and data uploaded to ArcGIS Online. So now you have these great demographic and market research tools available to use centered around your data. You can even update your location data while out in the field. See Figures 2 and 3).
LBx: What do you see as the future of site selection?
Beitz: As smaller companies are able to make crucial decisions quickly, it will start to influence the larger companies. More site options will be under consideration.
I also see the trend of building what I call “Opportunity Surfaces” that we have worked with several clients on. This is a process using location analytics where you load in the target retailer’s locations and the competition and then you have the GIS create “hot spots” that show areas with ideal demographics and low competition. This Opportunity Surface can then be uploaded securely to ArcGIS Online and served out to mobile devices in the field so the developer can see on the live map when they drive into an opportunity area. See Figures 4 and 5 for Opportunity Surface examples.
Daigh: I also think that the site selection process will be improved across the board as small and large developers have access to additional market research resources. More and more business decisions are based on data and as the amount of information increases, GIS can be used to analyze this data and present it in a way that tells a compelling story.