In Santa Monica and Venice CA, we are losing all of our dive bars. Legends like the Circle and the Brig have become, well, legends. Recently, another neighborhood dive went down, a place so nondescript that it was known simply as, "The Bar". Try looking that up on Google. The Bar did have a real name, but no one knew it. And the sign outside simply read, "Air Conditioned". Which became the de facto name for the bar. Now, upon the change of ownership, the new owners decided that, hey, since everybody knows us from the sign, let's keep it.
Another local anecdote. The Fox Hills Mall in Culver City was dying, a victim not merely of the maladies affecting all malls, but a victim of poor marketing. When Westerfield acquired the property a few years ago, the first thing they did was update and improve the signage so that it was clearly visible from multiple vantages on adjacent I-405. Turns out, a lot of folks did not even know the mall was there and had passed it a thousand times.
Signage is so important, and is just one among dozens of primary site characteristics. RPM collects primary data on these characteristics for every client store/branch/office, and we also "train the trainer" so that large organizations can collect their own site data. Once assembled, and used within the broader GIS in the context of location and business performance data, we can quantitatvely determine what contributes to making a great site, and use this information to optimize current and future sites.
At the ESRI UC in 2009, I pointed out during the Retail SIG meeting that site and location are two diffferent things, and that most of us seem to be analyzing location at the expense of site. Eyes glazed over. Site and location, aren't those the same thing?
No, they aren't. In GIS terms, a site is a point, and a location is a region. A site is the actual physical footprint, and has a number of associated attributes - age, signage, accessibility and much, much more. A location refers to the broader context of a site, its neighborhood, its trade area, its ZIP, its City, etc. and there are another set of attributes associated with them - population, daytime population, housing, competition.
Next, we'll take a look at how RPM collects site data in the field, and integrates it into the GIS on the fly. Something you'll have a real hard time doing with an IPhone.