How Does the NRTA Conference Equal ROI?

How does sending your staff to the National Retail Tenant’s Association (NRTA) annual conference increase ROI?

by Theresa Wecker, CFO, Asset Strategies Group, LLC

Return on Investment (ROI) is typically used as a performance measure, designed to evaluate the efficiency of an investment. To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment. The result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio. Because ROI is measured as a percentage, it can be easily compared with returns from other investments, allowing one to measure a variety of types of investments against one another. Average Retail Sector ROI is currently about 25%.

If the work we do as lease administrators, lease auditors, and real estate managers is important, why don’t we evaluate its value using a measure like ROI, the way the C-Suite does, comparing it against other cost reduction activities and projects allowing us to clearly demonstrate its impact?

Utilizing the ROI formula and assuming the cost of the NRTA National Conference averages about $2,600 and an average portfolio size of about 200 leases, the level of recovery required per lease to achieve an outstanding and exceptional ROI in terms of the retail industry would amount to an increase in annual recoveries of about $39 to result in a 200% return on the investment.

In the grand scheme of your team’s daily forensic auditing and lease administration tasks, a $39 per lease recovery is very conservative, wouldn’t you agree?

Why is it then such a difficult decision to take advantage of the training offered by the NRTA conference? The answer lies in the organization’s level of understanding about the team’s work and its results.

An important aspect of your role as a lease administrator or lease auditor is helping your organizational partners realize the impact you have on the bottom line. The discussion should not be relegated to once a year to request attendance at the NRTA conference. It’s an ongoing dialogue, helping the decision maker realize how a small investment in you and your team is not a sunk cost but an active and ongoing ROI opportunity.

There are several ways to highlight your value:

  • Make a recovery goal part of your annual performance review
  • Keep track of recoveries monthly and report your results
  • Talk about your successes
  • Propose innovative ways to be more successful and proactive

Although the VP of Real Estate or Finance may not directly understand your role in the organization, they certainly identify with a potentially sizeable improvement to the bottom line!

As a lease administration department head, I’d ask my teams to share their learning with the team members who were not in that year’s rotation to attend the conference. They’d lead training, discussing some of their favorite presentations, highlighting points that were especially insightful to them. In this way, the conference ROI is exponentially multiplied without additional cost.

This tactic can also be used to educate extra-departmental stakeholders through informal training sessions like “lunch and learns” in the weeks following the conference. In this way, your department not only realizes the direct ROI you achieve as a result of your attendance at the conference, but you have the opportunity to open up a dialogue about processes and challenges across the organization, building on the value of the conference in new ways.

The NRTA conference also benefits attendees with the opportunity to gain and grow peer relationships, not easily quantifiable, but every bit as valuable. We all understand how helpful these relationships are to our forensic investigations. Consider too the softer value gained from networking with peers at other organizations, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn about their experience with a broad range of topics such as a service provider, software tools, or to discuss how they are handling the transition to the new ASC842 accounting rules. There is real value in being able to gain this type of industry insight!

Finally, attendance at the conference is a positive experience used to energize, invigorate and incentivize your staff. The lease administrators and lease auditors on your team share a unique skill set. Rewarding them through additional training is a win-win situation, making it possible to retain their expertise in your organization, building your internal skills inventory and talent pool to support future internal advancement.

As you consider the opportunity for you and your team to attend the NRTA conference in 2018, download a copy of the ROI calculator spreadsheet template on the conference home page. Update it with your recoveries. Consider ways the conference has improved your team’s performance in the past, and make your case. If you’ve never attended the conference, build a curriculum from the available courses to enhance and expand your current skill set. In either situation, be prepared to explain how attendance will improve capabilities and results.

The cost to attend the conference is not an expense, it’s an investment to obtain the training and relationships not available anywhere else in the industry; training and relationships translating to ROI.

Theresa Wecker is CFO of Asset Strategies Group, LLC, an industry leading retail real estate consulting firm based in Columbus, OH. Theresa has been a member of the NRTA for the past 19 years, is an elected member of the organization’s Board of Governors and sits on the national conference Curriculum Committee.