Any residential or commercial development project can run into massive difficulties if residents are opposed to the plans or want the project to be scrapped altogether. Local campaigns can frustrate timelines, create legal problems or in the worst-case scenario, see hours of work vanish as local authorities scrap the project. However, suppose you can bring locals on board with your plan and communicate the benefits to their community. In that case, you may see your profits prosper from the goodwill generated and positivity surrounding your development. Local support can ultimately benefit your bottom line as it can create a smoother project timeline and also bolster the potential for sales within your plot. Here are a few tactics to consider with your next development to help secure community support.
Communication may seem obvious, but it is startling how often breakdowns in communication can lead to gossip and false information being spread about a project. As a developer, taking time to regularly update locals with the work you are undertaking and the aims for your project will give them a chance to see things from your point of view and will also go a long way to ensuring that the facts are in the public domain. Consider whether hiring a PR Company may be a good option, especially if your project is gaining a lot of media attention. A good local PR company will be able to communicate your message to local journalists and work on strategic campaigns that span the length of a project. A PR Company may also help you avert disaster by pointing out potential pitfalls before you may notice them. Take time to approach multiple PR Companies and choose one that can demonstrate they understand the local area and also have a history of fostering trust and if the necessary experience of crisis management.
Help Them Visualize
While you have spent a career visualizing how ground floor layouts and architect sketches will look in reality, the majority of the public will be very unfamiliar with this process. They will not have time to stare at the plans long and hard carefully. So any technology that you can utilize that helps them see how the properties might look and how they will fit into the existing landscape is incredibly useful. Remember, that many locals may also be prospective buyers so allow them to see as much as possible. While simple graphics of a street layout can be appealing, allowing them to navigate how a new home or commercial property might look on the inside will also help them imagine it as part of their community. Take time to utilize user-friendly software and consider hosting these inaccessible information platforms online. Remember tools of the trade might not be the best option for this, and it is good to assess the user’s experience before launching any visualizations online.
Do Your Research
Do not expect to drop a development into a community in isolation. The community will have its unique concerns and considerations. The more time you can spend researching this, the more likely you will be to address those concerns from the outset. Some key things to consider are:
- How recently has there been previous development in the area?
- How was this received?
- What is the socio-economic status of inhabitants, and how will your product impact this?
- What are the future employment opportunities within the area?
- What are the infrastructure pressures in the locality, and what needs updating?
- Are there any issues that have taken recent focus in local news such as the centralization of hospital services or over-demand for school places?
Ask how your development will be placed into this context and where you can develop an in-depth knowledge to prepare you for community meetings and possible questions that might arise.
Take Time To Listen
If you give a community the platform for dialogue, then you must take the proper time to listen to the queries and provide adequate time to respond. You can host face to face meetings, but it may also be worth considering allowing for online communication. Using Click4Assistance UK Live Chat Software may allow you to answer frequently asked questions quickly and allow local community members who cannot attend meetings to feel still your organization is accessible and open to dialogue. This software might also mean you can attend meetings virtually, cutting down travel time to and from your development, allowing you to attend meetings more regularly.
Invest In The Community
If you have a charitable or giving arm to your organization, then consider how you can utilize this to generate goodwill in a community. Can you sponsor a local amateur football team or give to a local cause that is dear to the community’s heart? Be creative with your choices to make it memorable. Try and link sponsorship and giving drives to your personnel; it helps to put a face to your organization, and your marketing team can harness fun fundraising activities through social media. Also, consider how you can also utilize your development as a community investment beyond what is just stipulated to you by a local authority. For instance, if you have noticed a lack of green spaces or play park, consider this within your development. It will enhance the overall quality of the locality and therefore increase the appeal to buyers as well.
Give Clear Timelines
While you may be looking at the minutiae of a construction timeline and its fluctuations, a community will also be interested in this timeline in a broader sense. You do not need to go through each phase, but broad brush strokes are useful for a community to prepare and plan for the construction phase and the launch of your development. It would be best if you also were prepared to communicate any hiccups in the timeline. People can be understanding if the messaging around this is handled carefully and with consideration.
Be Passionate When You Need To Be
There will be locals who you might never win over for a variety of reasons, and they may be forceful voices within the community. It is vital that you listen carefully but also defend your project robustly. Do not let your openness be mistaken for weakness of vision. You should be passionate about the project and how it will benefit any community. It would help if you made the community feel privileged that your development is there and demonstrate that you create high-quality results. Utilize the success of past constructions to explain the positive impact you can make. Be prepared to point out past challenges in other communities and how you managed them; this will help you gain the trust of locals. Take time to prepare your presentations, so that they are sleek and demonstrate your values and aims. Be aware that presenting for a community is very different from presenting to other professionals. Test your presentation out with people outside the industry if you are not used to speaking in this format.
Your Buyers Will Be There Neighbours
Whether developing commercial units or residential housing, all prospective buyers will become part of this community. If you fail to bring the community along with you, then you may generate bad blood for future buyers. Bad blood might result in a lack of business for your commercial units or community rifts with new homes. How you manage your local relationships can impact on your bottom line. So, do not be afraid to invest significant time and money into this as it will pay off. A community that seems unified and supportive will be more appealing and attractive to buyers than a project that has been mired with bad press in the media. The worst thing you can do is to give up. With any relationship, work needs to be put in as well as time. While it might get off on the wrong foot or a key goal is miscommunicated, there is always time to correct this. Becoming stubborn or bullish in the face of opposition will allow problems to fester. The more you can demonstrate passion but a listening voice and an ability to adapt and compromise, the more you will see community support rise.
While community communication management may seem like a whole project within itself, it should never become disunited from the initial aims of your development. Remember, there will be key reasons why you chose to develop in this community at this time. Whether it is a demand for retail space or the arrival of new infrastructure that means housing needs to be increased. You will have begun your project there for the same reasons that locals also love and want to protect their community. Convey your excitement to be part of their community and how much you want to be there alongside them. Encourage them to picture themselves buying in the shops, or seeing their children move into your homes. Try to paint the future that you as a developer wish to foster. Ask them how best you can achieve that together. You may find that they have fantastic ideas that will help make your development unique and a beneficial new extension of the community.