If Your Development Approach Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Principal Consultant , David Allison Inc.
  • Oct. 6, 2010

Lately, I’ve noticed more and more companies seem to be spending a lot of time trying to align themselves with trends and research studies rather than acknowledging what they’re doing right.

Take Kentucky Fried Chicken for example. Jumping on the “let’s get healthy” bandwagon, the management team behind the fast-food chain has got franchisees and customers alike ruffling their feathers with their latest advertising campaign.

Rather than promoting the fried chicken the chain has always been known for, the new campaign pushes healthier grilled chicken, instead of the usual fried stuff. A smarter option over the normal heart-clogging Snack Boxes and Bargain Buckets perhaps, but it’s not what hungry-customer-bellies are rumbling for when heading to a KFC.

An internal survey of 642 franchises found that more than half of the grilled chicken gets tossed in the trash each day because consumers simply aren’t buying it.

And apparently, franchisees are so fed up with declining sales and the way the chain is being run, they’re suing the corporate office to get control of the advertising. They’ve even hired their own marketing consultant (ex-McDonald’s honcho Larry Light) to get the brand back on track.

So, what does my blabbering about the Colonel’s fried chicken have to do with real estate development?

Simply this: acknowledge when you have a good thing going and run with it.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is known for – big surprise here – its fried chicken. Its success was built around ready-to-serve fried chicken. It’s why customers return.

As a developer, what are you known for? What’s your thing? Is it a deep-rooted family history in the world of development? Is it an uncompromising ability to deliver even when times are tough? Is it a commitment to amenity-driven spaces? Perhaps you are a boutique firm dedicated to developments in a specific region. Whatever it is, don’t start doing things you’re not already doing without thinking it through first. A resort developer should be careful about tackling a bit urban project; an urban tower builder should be hesitant about woodframe suburban low-rise product.

There is always room to evolve and tweak, whether it be internal systems, project parameters or outward messages, but don’t lose sight of the fact that some of what you have on offer may just be right on the money. Remember, it’s not always about why people should seek you out; it’s about why people do seek you out.

It’s a bit cliché, but a valuable lesson nonetheless: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.



David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

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David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

Read more




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