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When suppliers become FEC consultants and designers, beware!

I’ve noticed an alarming trend that the Great Recession seems to have accelerated – many equipment suppliers are marketing themselves as also consultants and designers of potential buyers’ family entertainment centers (FECs). Two recent prospects we have had discussions with sent us their FEC designs prepared by equipment suppliers had. Would you be amazed that in both instances all the attractions in the FEC designs were attractions sold by that particular supplier?

Business has slowed down for many FEC suppliers, as fewer centers are being built. Apparently as a way to try to generate business and get sales, many suppliers are claiming they can help their prospects by also designing their FECs, saving them money. Even scarier is that prospective FEC developers are buying into this.

Suppliers are experts in the equipment they sell. That does not translate into being experts on what the mix or design of an FEC should be, or even if the FEC is feasible. Do you think a supplier would tell a prospect that its offerings are not appropriate for the mix? Or tell them the FEC is probably not feasible? There are a rare few extremely ethical ones who would, but the vast majority are hungry for sales, so they put their self-interest ahead of that of the buyer. Rarely is the failure of an FEC attributed to any particular attraction, so the supplier makes the sale and doesn’t get any black marks if the advise was off the mark. Only the FEC owner suffers.

You only get what you pay for. Free or even fee-based advise and designs from a supplier will only get you very biased advise, that if followed, could get you in deep doo-doo. You shouldn’t use a supplier as a consultant or designer any more than you should hire a consultant or designer who also sells equipment or receives commissions or takes kickbacks from suppliers.

About Randy White

Randy White is CEO and co-founder of the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. The 31-year-old company, with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, has worked for over 600 clients in 37 countries throughout the world. Projects the company has designed and produced have won seventeen 1st place awards. Randy is considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on feasibility, brand development, design and production of leisure experience destinations including entertainment, eatertainment, edutainment, agritainment/agritourism, play and leisure facilities.

Randy was featured on the Food Network's Unwrapped television show as an eatertainment expert, quoted as an entertainment/edutainment center expert in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and Time magazine and received recognition for family-friendly designs by Pizza Today magazine. One of the company's projects was featured as an example of an edutainment project in the book The Experience Economy. Numerous national newspapers have interviewed him as an expert on shopping center and mall entertainment and retail-tainment.

Randy is a graduate of New York University. Prior to repositioning the company in 1989 to work exclusively in the leisure and learning industry, White Hutchinson was active in the retail/commercial real estate industry as a real estate consultancy specializing in workouts/turnarounds of commercial projects. In the late 1960s to early 1980s, Randy managed a diversified real estate development company that developed, owned and managed over 2.0 million square feet of shopping centers and mixed-use projects and 2,000 acres of residential subdivisions. Randy has held the designations of CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) and Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

He has authored over 150 articles that have been published in over 40 leading entertainment/leisure and early childhood education industry magazines and journals and has been a featured speaker and keynoter at over 40 different conventions and trade groups.

Randy is the editor of his company's Leisure eNewsletter, has a blog and posts on Twitter and Linkedin.

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