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Our 2022 Client Survey: The ROI of Meaningful & Equitable Engagement

coUrbanize Platform

At coUrbanize, we typically focus on outcomes – whether projects on our platform are approved by municipal bodies. (They usually are.) But during the community engagement process another consideration emerges: How many hours and dollars can the platform save our clients? We surveyed them to find out.

The short answer is, “a lot.” It turns out that the cost-savings and time-savings are significant. More specifically, one developer of large-scale projects estimated that the platform saved a few million dollars per project, with variations according to the size of the project. Estimates from developers of smaller-scale projects ranged from $50,000 to $100,000.  

Clients also reported notable savings of time. Two developers with large-scale projects said that the platform saved them 12 months! Responses from the developers of smaller-scale projects weren’t quite so impressive, but we’ll take them: One client quantified the savings at one hour per week, and others estimated totals of 100 hours and 50 hours.  

You might be wondering how the use of the platform contributes to these savings. The main factor in terms of cost is the avoidance of delays in the approvals process. Delays, often caused by opposition from community groups, translate into dollars. Our clients tell us that the average cost of a delay per month amounts to anywhere between $10,000 and $1 million. Because the platform allows developers to solicit feedback from area residents through multiple communication channels and in multiple languages – the feedback more accurately reflects the perspectives of entire communities than small, vocal groups of NIMBYs, and the feedback tends to be positive. Furthermore, by starting the engagement process early, developers can incorporate the feedback into their plans, and such adjustments improve the probability of approvals.   

It’s also worth pointing out that the sooner the project is approved, the sooner construction can start and the the sooner sales and/or leasing can begin.  

In terms of day-to-day tasks for our clients and their employees, time-savings accrue because they don’t have to build and manage a dedicated project website, answer one-to-one-emails or phone calls, or compile reports. coUrbanize does all of this, and also handles other engagement tasks that go far beyond the basics. 

For this year’s survey, we didn’t request qualitative comments (after all, we’re trying to save people time!), but in our conversations with customers we’ve received helpful feedback on how they quantify the impact of using coUrbanize:

“In communities where we haven’t used coUrbanize and faced opposition, we’ve seen entitlements drag on for an additional 12 to 18 months. The total added cost is in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars with additional permitting, legal, and overhead expenses plus costs associated with design changes.” – Andrew Colbert, Vice President of Development, Winn Companies

“The fact that coUrbanize is plug-and-play provides big cost savings. We didn’t have to hire a web developer and design a website. Compared to setting something up from scratch there is a cost savings in dollars as well as time. We set up coUrbanize in a matter of weeks – it was extremely fast and very reactive.” – Jeroen Henrich, Vice President of Development, Cadillac Fairview

But let’s return to the quantifiable results from this year, no less impressive: To recap, up to a few million dollars in cost savings per project and up to a year in time savings. Those are certainly positive outcomes beyond the ultimate outcome of an approval.

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