A “Reality Check”…by Walking Around

A few years back one on this countries well-known and for my money one of its best business guru’s Tom Peters coined the phrase…”Management by walking around.” In layman’s terms, it basically meant get out from behind the desk and get out there and talk to your employees and customers to find out just what really is happening. Not just what you “think”, or what others are telling you. I’ll just add my own 6 words to this often overlooked basic truth of business philosophy…Look, notice, ask, implement, verify, repeat!

Over and over you hear conflicting data from one source or another stating, “The Recovery is on track!”…or another stating, “The end of the world is here!” Today it’s hard for anything to make sense when this is all you hear. So I’ll add a data point that hit me with what I believe is the equivalent of religious clarity.

When I was growing up as a kid and pretty much through the rest of my business life, one thing I always took notice of was that I could tell how well the economy was moving along by how many churches would open in vacant stores. When the economy was poor or getting worse, you would see churches of all types from many different faiths or followings opening in the now vacant store front. Usually it was a small retailer, or a small store. Maybe it was in a downtown building, but they were usually modest in size. The severity of the economic stagnation or decline would usually govern the amount or size of vacant property available. It’s in these times that a landlord will rent to just about anybody that can pay the lease or rent. Whether it’s a retail business or something else. If you can make the rent….It’s yours….Period!

Well by walking around in my own city this weekend, I just found out that a local, …wait for it……..Mall, that is now vacant will be leased or sold for the purpose of becoming a church. Not a store front, not a section, not a strip mall, an entire MALL! Yes an entire mall, one that you think of when you picture one in your mind’s eye. The same size and scope of a major city mall in any well populated city in the US. If this doesn’t give me a little clarity on the economic times we are in, nothing does.

Looks like this economy may truly bring us to our knees.

Mark