AMA – Streamlining The Approval Process: An Insight from Victor Menasce

In this piece, we will explore the topic of streamlining the approval process in the realm of real estate development. This article is centered on a question asked by Matthew from Upstate New York during an AMA (Ask Me Anything) episode on the podcast. Matthew owns a commercial construction company and is faced with the challenge of dealing with zoning boards, planning commissions, and city councils that often do not have a background in urban planning or development.

Guidance for Officials

My advice to officials would be, first and foremost, to make a decision once and then stick by it. The most time-draining aspect for any development project is moving goalposts – where the rules are constantly changing. This brings unnecessary delay and confusion to the development process. Having consistent rules and goals across multiple projects will create efficiency and predictability.

The Three Distinct Roles in Negotiation

The negotiation process requires the presence of three distinct roles, based on the classic Miller-Hyman sales training model: the Technical Buyer, the Coach, and the Decision Maker. Understanding these roles and effectively engaging with them can greatly streamline the approval process.

Role Description
Technical Buyer Enforces the rules, often found in the planning department.
Coach Has inside knowledge of the city’s workings and provides guidance on dealing with the Technical Buyer and Decision Maker.
Decision Maker The person who ultimately approves or disapproves projects. Their priorities need to be understood for a successful negotiation and a streamlined approval process.

Remember, even with a streamlined process, the human factor will always come into play. It’s crucial to hand the Decision Maker a win that they can get credit for, to ensure the success of your project. And this can only happen if they convey to you in advance what a win for them would look like.

Thanks to Matthew for this question and to all the readers for their attention. Stay connected and discover more about my work in real estate.

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