Christian Ross

Doing your due diligence

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty bad about flying by the seat of my pants. I make plenty of decisions based on feelings and intuition without exploring the ramifications or the consequences. It can range from simple slip-of-the-tongue type stuff all the way to business decisions. Knowing this is only half the battle, overcoming it is another story. There’s a good chance I write this whole article without thinking of the consequences it will bring. Danger’s my middle name.

Recently, I’ve done a decent job of the classic “pot calling the kettle black” by noticing and possibly pointing out others in what looks like their failed attempts at doing due diligence in their decision making. Of course I am an expert when it comes to second guessing others’ decision making, so potentially they did do some research and pre-planning and I am just not seeing it. Then again, maybe not.

The Brownstones at Town Square

I live in the suburbs and to be honest, the section of town I live in is quite affluent. One of the neighboring towns is above all the rest in terms of socioeconomic standards in the area and they really don’t take any steps to hide it. Just the opposite, actually. It’s your typical keeping up with the Jones’ but on a pretty high scale. There are no multi-unit rental facilities (truly, none) in said town and there is no city transportation system to help people get from one place to another.

All of that to set up my surprise when I watched them start a project 3-4 years ago called The Brownstones at Town Square. In this town of purely upper class, single-income homes, somebody got the bright idea to build 3-story vertical townhomes (or row homes, if you prefer) similar to those you might find in major downtown cities like NYC or SF. I get that they’re targeted at high-end buyers and that they’re good for fitting larger amounts of people into smaller spaces without putting up a high-rise; but this is a town where if you’re lot is smaller than an acre, you’re poor. They have no lack of space.

In my opinion, the developer failed to do his due diligence. He saw visions of wealthy people spending over $600k on attached housing and developing the sense of a downtown community within this town. But what it appears he didn’t do was research the fact that these are people who don’t want to live downtown. They want space. They want a minimum of three-car garages, land and a pool. If they wanted a shared wall or the ability to walk to all their ammenities, they’d have bought in a downtown area. These residents drive cars with numbers on the back that range from 740il to S550. And they’re not fond of parking them on the street in front of their home.

I’m not trying to force stereotypes, just being a realist. And fortunately for my argument, I’m not alone.

As I perused our local, weekly paper today at lunch, I noticed an article mentioning that a study had been done by Deloitte Consulting on the Brownstone properties I had always questioned. The study proved the fact that the developer and the city missed the mark on the project both for current and future residents. With quotes ranging from “they don’t seem like they belong” and “we are not very close to having it right” you can see that somebody overlooked some important steps in planning a project of this scale. My favorite though came from one of the members of the Planning and Zoning Commission for the city, “it is a hobby for the city and the chamber of commerce,” meaning that they knew up front that this project was just put in place to cover some developer’s dream without research and/or studies. Shame.

Millions of dollars and effort have been put into a very nice development and I am assuming that taxpayers flipped the bill for a portion either through direct money or tax cuts for the developer. If I had to guess, I would estimate that more than half of them sit empty today. I would chalk this one up as a sad waste of time, money and effort; I’m just glad it doesn’t have my name on it.

Failed advertising budgets

On a much shorter note, somebody should be fired for their failure in doing their due diligence in either researching viewing audiences or auditing the network on when their ads run after I witnessed a feminine hygiene product commercial last night during an airing of Poker After Dark on NBC.

Really? Is that their target viewing audience? I’m no genius but in my household, only one of us is watching poker on television and it isn’t the one buying said product.

I would think that in a time like this when budgets are so closely guarded, you would want to know more than ever when/where/how your products are being marketed. Or maybe, instead of running ten commercials during late-night poker for your product, run two commercials during Desperate Housewives and watch the dollars roll in. Again, no genius here but it makes sense in my head.


Sorry, just a long-winded sermon remembering to do your due diligence. Whether in business research, cost of a certain product or even knowing your surroundings when you decide to go off-the-cuff with your speech; think a little in advance about what ramifications each decision may have.

4 responses to “Doing your due diligence”

  1. Christy says:

    Was almost offended at the description of said town. Almost, but not really. Completely agree that those things were a joke. And they tried to sell them with a lottery?!?

  2. Christian says:

    Ouch, sorry. Sometimes I forget that I might end up stepping on toes.

    A lottery for them? Really? That makes it even better! I can’t imagine they had more than 3 people put in for that one.

  3. Trevor says:

    i love brownstones. of course, i love big, spread out, breathable, roomy, private,…. more. genius move. my favorite quote, “we’re not too close to having it right”. really? tremendous.
    poker after dark is the greatest show of all time. wish it came on “after light”. and without those commercials.

  4. Christian says:

    Good call on the “after light.” They’d get my business every day. I only ever catch it in bed so I can’t even say I’ve ever heard one conversation on the show.

    It’s fun to formulate opinions about each player by how they look. Oh wait, I said that out loud…

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