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  • Liv Stromme

Secrets to managing a successful BR&E program

Having a sound Business Retention and Expansion program is an imperative pillar of economic development. Through our work, we’ve met with countless professionals that have created, tweaked and mastered Business Retention and Expansion initiatives in communities of all sizes.

In this blog, we'll share with you some best practices and initiatives that we have found very useful in implementing a new Business Retention and Expansion program. We have unlocked some of these secrets for you!

The secrets to a managing a successful BR&E program

A successful BR&E program is driven by your community initiatives, but they all have some common themes for success.

Part 1: Create a manageable BR&E program

BR&E programs should be serious, structured, systematic and sustainable. Create a game plan before getting personal. This can be organized with a multi-layered framework which can consist of business walks, social media, site visits, etc.

Allow yourself time to get everyone working on the same page: rules, protocols, inclusiveness, start small and grow organically. High-functional relationships are based on recency and frequency.

The City of Celina, TX partnered with Bludot to streamline and formally build out their Business Retention and Expansion program. We sat down with the Celina's Business Retention and Expansion Specialist for a Q+A on how using Bludot has digitized their processes and streamlined their data.

“It’s been a great tool, especially in formally building out our BR&E program. Contact information and related data for a business is all updated easily in one place. When I meet with a business owner I can log a meeting and related notes during or immediately following a discussion in Bludot. Using the group email feature has also been great to get communications out quickly to all businesses and saved time digging through spreadsheets.” Lalaina Alvarez, Business Retention and Expansion Specialist for Celina, TX

Part 2: Manage your interactions with a CRM

A CRM tool should be a dear diary—light and agile approach. Coupled with a CRM, it is also vital to have an active business directory for your BR&E program. Your CRM tool can be used for notes and event history. This will become your credibility and you will also be working in an integrated way to understand the story that has been told before.

The City of Cibolo, TX launched Bludot's Business Retention Platform and Public-Facing Business Directory to improve communication between their Economic Development team, local businesses and the community.

Part 3: Prioritize your companies

Companies that make significant investment in research and development (R&D), plant modernization, workforce, unique and defensible products and service offerings should be of focus. Organize networks of similar businesses: Common projects done by networks can be placed into groups of input, processing and output.

With a population of of 24,000 people, the City of Fairfax, VA has a 12-person Economic Development team tasked with keeping track of every business and ongoing initiatives in the county—like their highly successful Restaurant Week. Using Bludot to consolidate all of their Business Retention and Expansion efforts has streamlined collaboration and made targeting specific business, industry sectors and demographic information much easier.

"We move at a very fast clip in Economic Development, but there are certain aspects of our processes that I feel like we need to slow down to create better organization while remaining at that clip. Bludot is a good tool in that way because maybe it's not slowing us down, but it is allowing us to better organize and we're able to see that organization happen in real time." Matt Easley, Assistant Director for Economic Development for City of Fairfax, VA

Part 4: Provide consistent support for selected businesses

Make sure you are creating incentives for companies that are meeting performance-based criteria goals. Your businesses care about speed, risk and cost; help them to create a speedy low-cost solution. Strengthen high value sectors as well as clusters within your businesses. Also, provide market research and counseling for your businesses when applicable.

Part 5: Collect data through surveys

Instead of a 170-question survey, create a survey to be differentiated and specific (it has to be a conversation—focus on discovery process, organic discussion, narrative survey, etc.). Data points must be measurable, if not you can not manage it.

No matter the size of your community, a Business Retention and Expansion program is important for the growth and prosperity of your city or town. Here at Bludot we work with over 100 communities in over 26 states and are here to support your city in providing lightweight tools to help support your BR&E initiatives.

If you want to learn more about how our solutions can help assist and elevate your goals, feel free to schedule a demo with our team.


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