“You’re only doing it right if your customer comes back.”

A well-known international retailer just moved into approximately 35,000 square meters at Park Weststad in Oosterhout, Netherlands, making it the perfect example of how Prologis builds long-term relationships with customers. “It’s our fifth lease agreement with this customer,” says Gina Helmold, VP head of developments, Prologis, who answers five questions about collaboration.

What can you tell us about the new contract with the customer at Prologis Park Weststad, in Oosterhout? 

“It’s an expansion of a contract we signed in 2017 with a big supermarket chain. That contract concerned a built-to-suit development of 45,000 square meters. Before that, the customer leased 16,000 square meters of modern distribution space from us at this location in Oosterhout. But, actually, our partnership goes back much further.”

When did you first have contact with the customer?

“It was in 2012. That was when we sat around the table together for the first time. We discussed all sorts of things and talked about Prologis—who we are, what we do and what we stand for. That’s very important, especially if you want to build a long-term partnership. But of course it works the other way around, too. What exactly does this organization want? You need to take plenty of time for these talks.”

Where did the first exploratory talks lead?

“To a partnership at another location in Moerdijk with a 10-year lease agreement. After the contract in Moerdijk had already been expanded once, we made a new proposal. I’d heard that the customer was making plans for Oosterhout. I knew a unit there was becoming vacant and proposed the facility before it came on the market.”

What clinched the deal? 

“Flexibility. Although the customer knew they wanted to lease the premises, they didn’t yet know for how long. So we came to a flexible agreement. A year later, when it turned out to be the right decision, we drew up a long-term contract. This contract, too, has already been expanded. So we’re now ready for our fifth lease agreement together.”

What’s the secret to a productive partnership like this?

“Listening well. That’s how everything begins. Creating trust. But making the first deal isn’t enough. You’re only doing it right if your customer comes back. It starts with making agreements, which then have to be met. A customer has to be able to rely on your promises and that you’ll be there when they need you. And, yes, in an agreement we often talk about milestones in terms of square meters, but for me that’s not actually what it’s about. It’s about whether the customer is happy. If so, that’s what I call a milestone.”

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