The Meeting That Added 30% of Value to a Commercial Centre

The moment you arrive at Spectrum you know that you are in a different place. The offices – totally open and super modern – make you travel away from the traditional Guatemala.

When I arrived Alejandro Guillen was the one who received me. He gave me his card that only read “Alejandro”. My first reaction was to ask him his position, to which he answered something totally unexpected; “At Spectrum we do not believe in positions, we believe in leaders.”

The phrase sounded a bit exaggerated, but I dared to continue the conversation. I demanded evidence of how such a culture could work. Through this question, I was told the history of the meeting where they added 30% of value to a shopping center.

In the most successful commercial properties there are always intentions to grow. The problem is that they are usually located in extraordinary locations, which makes the soil a very scarce resource. Such is the case of Oakland Mall, located in the heart of Guatemala and surrounded by areas of enormous value. Months of land finding work could not locate any adjacent land with intentions to sell or associate itself with the mall.

What should you do in such a case? Provoke a meeting with the project’s leaders.

The meeting was attended by leaders from all sorts of areas and several projects, without hierarchies, without limitations. Like the NASA team of Apollo 13, with absolute creativity and demanding an outcome that was obligatory: to generate more value from a high potential property.

Those who worked for weeks on the project quickly explained why it was a lost case. No other properties had been obtained and the remnants were too small to actually create substantial value with. Soon, a voice from the back of the meeting room clarified with dramatic simplicity: “let’s use the basement.” One of Spectrum’s leaders – whose position is irrelevant – had proposed a solution that in any other organization would have been dismissed as ridiculous. How will a basement be suitable for a commercial area?

But this did not happen in any other organization. It happened in Spectrum, where it is allowed to challenge the impossible. So they made available the resources necessary to bring the best specialists in the world on how to reconvert that basement in a commercial area while the rest of the mall would continue to be open.

Months later, when the unexpected expansion finally opened, more than one of Spectrum’s leaders felt tears of happiness. They had achieved the impossible: add 30% profitable area in an extension without additional land and without closing the mall.

This is how one lives the culture of one of the most important real estate companies in Central America. In a culture of creative and purposeful leadership, value is not limited to the traditional real estate recipe.

* Carlos Muñoz 4S is one of the leaders of the Real Estate industry of Latin America. Neither does he believe in positions, but in the value that can be generated when you challenge the impossible. Find it at: carlos@grupo4s.com

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