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Friday, February 21, 2020

City of Cleveland to Hire Outside Consultant to Examine Changes and Improvements at West Side Market

Posted By on Fri, Feb 21, 2020 at 10:32 AM

click to enlarge ERIK DROST/FLICKR CC
  • Erik Drost/Flickr CC
Frustration over the city's management of the West Side Market doesn't seem to be subsiding, and as the community and some elected leaders pressure Cleveland to turn over management to a non-profit or seek another solution to the problems, Cleveland today announced it has issued an RFP for a consultant to evaluate possible changes at the Cleveland landmark.

“We are in search of a consultant that can think outside of the box to enhance the Market’s competitive edge,” Chief Operating Officer Darnell Brown said in a press release. “As the historic institution continues to adapt to the evolving demands of 21st Century customers, the City of Cleveland seeks a consultant who can evaluate and recommend ways to enhance overall customer experience, vendor mix, and quality of products and services. We also want to create a process for customers to be able to provide feedback.”

The city had recently announced a set of goals for 2020 that included online purchasing, concierge pick-up, improved tenant relations, improved seating and expanded marketing.

The consultant, once hired, will "help reshape the West Side Market customer experience by evaluating existing practices and developing a strategic action plan to drive change at the Market."

Four main areas of focus the city will ask the consultant to examine:

· Administrative: Create a process and establish a tool to evaluate vendor performance and vendor selection. Develop a tool to receive customer feedback and evaluate customer satisfaction.

· Entrepreneurial Growth & Recruitment: Provide recommendations on vendor recruitment. Develop recommendations to diversify products and services. Analyze the role of the Market as a business incubator and identify specific services required to support the success of vendors. Make recommendations for creative revenue streams that encourage repeat customer visits.

· Facilities Management & Capital Planning: Review West Side Market Capital Plan to focus on customer access to products, services and events. Review and assess the day to day maintenance practices of the facilities and provide recommendations on ways to increase efficiency, streamline project coordination and enhance communication with vendors and outside departments.​

· Encourage Community Engagement, Outreach and Bridge Building: Review and assess the WSM 2019 Community Survey and 2019 Marketing Plan to create tools that measure customer satisfaction going forward as the vendor recommendations are implemented. Conceptualize a plan on how the WSM can enhance its strategic relationships while adhering to its core mission. Engage in collaborative partnerships with community partners (i.e. RTA, VA, Hunger Network, Cleveland Restoration etc.).
Results of a customer survey show shopper support many of the ideas already floated by tenants — changes in hours, utilizing vacant space, etc.  — and WSM Tenant Association President Don Whitaker says the city is already moving toward executing some changes soon, albeit in predictably Cleveland fashion. Via the PD:

A year ago, Whitaker said, the vendors offered to update their operating hours to “be here when the customers want to be here.”

The recommendation included opening later and staying open later to get after-work crowds, as well as staying open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in the summer, “as long as [the city] marketed it.”

Now that the survey has confirmed shoppers want later hours, the city is on board. But not in a well-planned manner, said Whitaker.

“After not hearing anything since April. they called me into the office on February 5 and said, ‘We’re changing the hours February 17 and I need you to sign this document.’

“I said, ‘What’s your plan?’ and they said, ‘We’re going to print out flyers and put the hours on our website and send a press release.’ ”

“You’re talking about changing 50-year-old hours in less than 10 days. You need a better plan than this,” Whitaker said.

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