When you work as an agent or salesperson or agent in commercial real estate, sales letters should be part of all your marketing campaigns. Those campaigns can be for you personally, your office, or your listings. Whatever the reason for the letter, they have a place and a use.
You can convert good enquiries and listing opportunities from these letters providing you follow them up. Not many agents do the necessary follow-up; interesting isn’t it? So many agents will send out several hundred sales letters for a marketing campaign of one type or another, and then make very few follow-up calls.
Ratios Prove it!
Here are some ratios for you. A direct sale letter with no follow-up will have a conversion of about 1% or 2%. When you follow-up the sales letter with a direct telephone call to the key person, the conversions lift up to somewhere between 5% and 10%. I know that skill and dialogue will have some impact on the result by I assume that most people know the importance of professional dialogue in making calls.
So let’s set some clear rules for the typical sales letter:
Keep the letter simple. Rarely will you need to go over one page, and it is preferable that you do not. Everything that you want to say should be on the single piece of paper in 3 or 4 paragraphs of text
Personally sign each letter legibly in blue ink. The person then knows that you are sending an original letter.
Your signature should be readable and better than a ‘scrawl’ at high speed. You are sending a marketing letter, and your name is part of the marketing message. It is preferable to write and sign your full name.
If you must go over 1 page in your letter length, ensure that the first page ends mid-sentence and therefore encourages a person to turn over the page.
Personalise the letter and make sure you have the names correct in all respects. Errors made in addressing a letter to a person will see it hit the rubbish bin faster than you can imagine.
Typo’s and mistakes are unforgiveable in a sales letter. They show a lack of attention to detail in the correspondence. Get your sales letters proof read before they go out.
Enclose a business card in all your sales letters. Generally speaking, a loose business card is likely to be kept after everything else hits the rubbish bin.
Encourage telephone and email response to your sales letter. Make it easy for people to find you.
Use dot points and sub headings in the letter. This will make the readability much higher. Most adult readers only skim marketing material and will read it only if it has some interest. That interest comes from the dot points and the sub headings.
Use a plain blue envelope that is personally addressed in neat handwriting.
Use a good headline for your letter that is relevant to your message. Some words sell better than others; some words attract attention better than others. Get a good book on ‘words that sell’ and use the words with skill in all your marketing material.
These concepts for a sales letter can be the main part of your commercial real estate marketing effort as long as you follow through on every message. Get to know your market and the people through constant contact and relevant messages. Use the sales letter strategically and regularly.
In many segments of the real estate industry today, some would say that the rate of enquiry is slow and the listings take a long time to convert to a closed deal, albeit a sale or lease. The Buyers, Sellers, and Tenants that we work with have a slower cycle to making decisions and taking actions. Here are some tips from our Newsletter.
Whilst the property market does have slowness about it, there are some other issues to consider when you look at the bigger picture. How you see the bigger picture will impact your career as a real estate salesperson.
In this property market there are two significant problems in this ‘bigger picture’. Consider this:
Today we have the massive impact of global information in ‘real time’. Any problem on the other side of the world in another country is quickly communicated to our workplace, our desk, and our life. The internet has changed the way information is sent and interpreted. Even just 15 years ago the pressure of information was not the same. Today we have personal mobile phones and computers that tell us whatever we want and whenever we want it. Information is thrust at us like it or not in so many ways, and we have little choice in what we hear and see. The problems in global business on the other side of the world all of a sudden have some impact on the way we do business locally, spend money, and live our lives.
The free media believes that they have a ‘right’ and an ‘obligation’ to tell us every bit of gossip and rumour from around the world for the sake of ‘transparency’ and ‘honesty’. All of a sudden we get information overload with things that are not local, not fully checked or proven, and that are perhaps even what I would call ‘manipulated information’. It should always be remembered that the media (in the main) is doing what it does for one reason and that is to attract listeners and readership; the ultimate object behind that fact is then to attract and sell advertising.
Whilst all of this may be a healthy concept in a broader capitalist economy, too much of it can be counterproductive. From a sales perspective, we really do have to contain and control how much of this ‘distracting stuff’ that we see or hear, and that pervades the local work place and business environment.
It is very easy for this entire information overload to impact the way you think and the way you act. As a sales person in real estate, this can have a major collision on your thinking, your life and your commissions.
It is time to take control of your real estate business and your market. Make your own ‘news’, and don’t let the market impose itself on your business focus and systems. A great salesperson will set their business system in place and drive it forward regardless of the ‘gossip’ of the market and the media. Top agents always get to the top of any property market through personal system and deliberate action. Top agents establish ‘filters’ so they can maintain the best focus on what they do without being shaped by an overzealous and distracting media.
When you work in commercial property management it is very easy to suffer the effects of stress. They say that some stress is a good thing and that it helps us get the job done; the unfortunate fact of commercial property management is that stress can be relentless and continuous. Workloads are high most of the time. Here are some tips from our Newsletter.
So why are things like this? The reality is that commercial property managers are very busy most of the working week. If they do not handle work variety and pressures well, then they are likely to suffer in one form or another. In this industry you really do need to be organised and have a level of knowledge that supports workplace efficiency.
Far too many property managers are overloaded with too many buildings and tenants by agency principals that have little or no idea about the amount of work involved in the management service and process. Another problem in the industry is not charging sufficient fees for the work involved in managing buildings.
On any given day a property manager is likely to do many different things including:
Meet with tenants
Talk with landlords
Expenditure controls and management
Trust account monitoring
Remittance of landlord funds
Payment of accounts
Report on lease and tenant matters
Find new tenants
Inspect vacant tenancies with new tenants
Market vacant premises
Interpret lease situations for risk and response
Write several dozen emails and letters
Talk with contractors about maintenance matters
Arrange maintenance response to repair requirements
Look at competing properties under management for tenant changes and opportunity
So this list is deep and meaningful. There are many things in this list to keep a property manager fully occupied.
Given the large variety of things to do it is very important that they be good at time organisation and management. Organisation removes a lot of stress and pressure in the job.
So just how many hours should a manager work per day? To be realistic, the job is demanding and complex. A 10 hour working day is not unusual. That being said, you really do need to be diligent on the type of work that you do and build efficiencies into the system of the day. When you believe and feel that you are under control, everything else gets a lot easier.
Ultimately our job is to provide the landlords that we work for with relevant property control and focus. If you are graduating from residential property to commercial property, understand that the property shift does require a different approach to the property under management, the landlord, and the tenants. Relationships are more business-like. Decisions made are usually based on logic and the factors of income and expenditure.
In closing on this point it should be said that commercial or retail property management is a great career choice for those that want to work in the industry. It is just a matter of establishing the right time management systems and controls to get you through the working day efficiently and correctly. Enjoy your career in commercial property management.
In commercial real estate today the leasing of premises can be a real challenge. This is especially the case if you do not have a good database of tenants to call on and connect with. This is where expert property leasing specialists will have the advantage providing they have a good collection of tenants that they regularly connect with.
Here is a fact for you. The difference between an ordinary leasing executive and a top agent leasing executive is the database. The more people that you have spoken to previously and that you can call on with confidence and relevance today, the better off you will be with your leasing conversions and business.
In this property leasing market, many variables exist such as:
Amount of vacant space available
The enquiry rate for different property types
The quality of the listings
Rental types (gross and net)
Comparable and competing properties
The ability to pay market rental
The ability of the landlord to accept true market rentals to encourage a lease
The rate and type of incentive that is available for tenants in differing property types
The supply and demand of space in the different property types
All of these things produce variations of what tenants want and how they can negotiate on a lease. For this very reason you really do need a comprehensive collection of tenants in your database. As you add prospects to that list, make sure that you keep in regular contact. This industry is based largely on relationships and trust. Top agents win the deals and the listings mainly because they have the trust established with the right people.
To build an ‘everlasting’ list of tenant prospects today, here are some strategies for you:
Understand that the best results will come to you when you specialise. That will give you the ability to talk rents, leases, and improvements in properties with greater relevance.
Determine the property type and tenant type that you should be working on. Make sure that the segment of market is active and growing (not contracting).
Get to know the rental and leasing strategies behind leases today with your specialist property type. Your client will normally be the landlord, and they need help to see the best way to attract lease enquiry and tenants to the property.
Talk to 15 businesses per day. Most of that can be done on the telephone. Importantly these businesses should be ‘new’ prospects that you have not spoken to before.
Depending on your area and location, you should have over 600 businesses in your database that you speak to regularly. Focus on relationships and property requirements.
Consistency is the key to getting results in commercial property leasing. Examine your diary and personal systems to ensure that you really do connect with enough of the right people. When you have a good database, landlords will be attracted to you. Landlords cannot ignore a top agent with a relevant and large database. Sell your leasing services on that basis.
In any commercial or retail investment property the tenant mix and tenant profile is really important to the performance of the property. In these times of economic change with some businesses under a degree of pressure, the leases and income in a property should be the subject of a review and retention plan. The leasing manager or the property managers are the best people to do this on behalf of the landlord.
You can set up the process to be a major point of difference in your service as a real estate agent to your clients. Give the process a name such as ‘Tenant Optimisation Plan’ and then market your services to it.
So what could this special service look like? What would you do within it? Here are some ideas:
Review all tenants in a property on an annual basis to determine desirability. Split the tenants into ‘A’ and ‘B’ class, wherein the top tenants that you must retain in the property are in ‘A’ Class. They are the tenants that you will help to remain in occupancy and strengthen their position in the property. The other ‘B’ class tenants will be those that are not essential to the performance of the property and can easily be replaced. Some of those tenants you will replace with better tenants as leases expire. That then says that you need a tenant replacement marketing plan.
The ‘anchor’ tenants in the property will be very important to the future of the asset. Those tenants are normally on long leases and they are also likely to have a long option term available. Stay close to your ‘anchor’ tenants as they will have a real impact on the visitors to the property and the smaller specialty tenants.
Any lease rent reviews and lease expiries should be considered well in advance as part of a property performance plan. It is not unusual for that plan to be forward looking at least 12 months. In the case of ‘anchors’, the time frame is normally 24 months. You need plenty of time to handle vacancy and negotiation issues today.
Market rents in the area are somewhat predictable and will form the basis of the business plan for the property. Market rents will be impacted by vacancies, supply and demand, and future developments. Track and assess all of these issues on a monthly basis.
Check out the existing and comparable properties in the region. Look for weaknesses or changes in tenant profile and vacancy factors.
All of these things allow you to formulate real recommendations for your client and help the property reach income and expenditure expectations.
In commercial real estate, you should devote 2 or 3 hours per day to what I call ‘prime prospecting time’. It is the time that you devote to building your agency business and market share and listings.
Most real estate agents hate prospecting. Unfortunately for them it is a part of the business and is essential if you want to win more listings.
Most if not all of your listings will come from personal contact; do not wait for the listings to come in the door of your agency, as it is a rare event. The last agents that waited for that to happen are now somewhere else and in a different career.
It takes about 6 months to establish your market; it takes about the same amount of time to destroy your market and career chances. Everyone runs out of momentum in our industry unless they get the systems established that they need to go forward. It is a personal process.
Take control of your career and drive some real enquiry your way; establish a period of ‘prime prospecting time’ in your diary every day without fail.
Here are some rules to prospecting in commercial real estate agency:
Understand where your market is geographically. Work within those boundaries. Do not spread your prospecting activities too far as you can make yourself less effective in that process. Businesses and property investors like to deal with the best agents in the local area. That is where and you will find your listing opportunities.
Prospecting should occur at the same time every day. This is because you must establish a habit in the process. It takes about 3 or 4 weeks to set new habits in place. You will need to struggle with your efforts until that point has been reached.
Do not expect results immediately. Our industry is built on trust and relationships. Most of your prospecting should be on the basis of relationship establishment and building. Over time that will then lead to new business in one form of another.
Relevance is important when you connect with a new client or prospect. What can you provide to the person that you are talking to that will help extend the relationship to a meeting?
Constant contact is the rule and not the exception in commercial real estate. Every 90 days you should be talking to the same people. It takes about 3 or 4 approaches with some prospects before you will get a meeting.
The commercial agents that develop a mindset behind the prospecting process will succeed faster than most. Start your practice and develop your system of contact. You will soon find those leads and clients that you have been looking for.
In today’s commercial real estate market, tenants know exactly what they want when it comes to a property and the location. They also know that they have the favored position when it comes to lease negotiation. There are plenty of vacant tenancies to choose from. The rents and or deals that are offered today give tenants great flexibility when it comes to lease negotiation.
The landlord today needs to be guided through the facts of the market so that they suitably match the needs of tenants as part of the typical property negotiation. Unrealistic landlords waste everyone’s time. It is the job of the agent to help the landlord through the facts of the property market as they exist today. You will need evidence to support your rental recommendations and negotiations.
So exactly what do tenants require when it comes to leasing premises today? The situation will vary from property to property, but here are some common facts for you to consider.
They want a quality property that is well maintained. This means that the landlord should optimise the presentation of the property at all times. The maintenance processes will help stabilise existing tenant occupancy and attract new tenants to vacancies.
Regardless of how much the landlord thinks the tenancy is worth in rental, the tenant will not pay above the market rental. Given the large number of vacancies generally available, most lease negotiations will need to be keenly structured with lease incentives, landlord funded fit out works, and attractive lease occupancy conditions.
Quality services and amenities as part of occupancy should be provided. The convenience of being a tenant in the building should be an obvious factor to help the tenant negotiate through any new lease.
Tenants today really do not need to negotiate on vacant premises to any great degree. There are plenty of tenancies to choose from and the first offer you get from the tenant may be the only offer that a tenant provides. They will soon move on to another property. Landlords with an inflated view of rental or lease terms and conditions, may very well lose an interested tenant.
As a general rule, early occupancy for the purposes of fitout establishment should not be provided until the lease is signed and all other lease obligations are paid by the tenant. Many tenants have changed their mind on a property between commencing fit out design and construction, and signing the lease for occupancy. Be aware of the problem and do not fall into the trap.
Today’s leasing market is quite active from a tenancy perspective. The tenants can call the deal or negotiate keenly. As agents we need to align ourselves to the tenants in what they are looking for when it comes to property occupation. We then need to help our clients as landlords adjust to that process.