In commercial real estate agency and brokerage today it is easy to get lost in doing the mundane and unnecessary tasks that waste time and effort. If this happens too often you will find that listing numbers and commissions will decline.
So what are the most important things that you should do every day? Try some of these:
Researching your market
Prospecting for new clients, buyers, and tenants
Client meetings with current listing updates
Presentations and listing pitches
Prospect contact with listing detail
Property inspections with qualified buyers or tenants
Creating and driving marketing campaigns
Negotiations with sales and leasing opportunities
Following up on current deals to ensure that they are progressing forward
Database growth and accuracy
It is easy to see that you have lots to do as an agent or broker. All of these things will help you get the income and the market share that you require. Only you can control your choices and actions as an agent.
So what happens to derail your focus? Well I have seen all sorts of pressures with many different agents. Here are some of the most common problems:
A client wants to see you to discuss something relating to the marketing of their property.
A prospective buyer or tenant wants to inspect a property today or in the next few hours.
The boss of the office wants to have a meeting to discuss team performance.
You have too many things to do in one day and no support to help you with the pressure.
You have some marketing to do and some reports to get out that should have been done ‘yesterday’.
These things and the others that impact your day can be controlled and redirected. Only you can control your day. If you let the priorities of others take over your day, you can say goodbye to your income and market share. It’s that simple.
Here are some ideas to help you with time management in commercial real estate brokerage:
Prospect every day before you do anything else. Your growth of market share is really important. The morning is the best time to get prospecting done.
Leave the paperwork to the end of the day or delegate it.
Move your client meetings and property inspections to the afternoon.
Only take telephone calls when you have time as they will shift your focus off the things that really matter.
If someone wants to meet with you, ensure that the reason is valid.
You should control your diary (not the office administrative staff)
Commercial real estate agency is a great profession with lots of potential for those that focus and work hard. Good time management processes are part of that.
If in commercial real estate agency today, you need to condition the clients and the prospects that you work with. To do that successfully, you do need market information and market knowledge. The conditioning process is quite special and requires practice as well as supporting information.
Most clients will have an inflated opinion of their property in the market today. As part of the listing process, you will need to shape their thinking in preparation for a realistic price or rental; be prepared for the listing and structure it on terms and conditions that are favourable for the prevailing market conditions. You will also need to position the property for the correct marketing campaign and negotiation situation.
It is interesting to note that many top agents will not take on a listing that has been overly inflated in price or rental. Invariably what will happen in such circumstances will be a stale listing, and a lot of wasted time on your part. Your goal should be to only list properties that are realistically close to the prevailing market conditions; condition the client accordingly.
Here are some ideas to help you with the client conditioning process:
Identify the other properties in the local area that remain unsold or vacant. They will have an impact on your marketing campaign and your clients listing. Take photographs of those properties and get details of the current prices or rentals. Show your client the marketing strategy used in each case.
Prices and rentals will change throughout the year. As an industry expert, you should track those numbers and be prepared to show the client those trends through a graphing process. You can add to that process the current status of time on market when it applies to each property type locally. That should also be graphically displayed.
New property developments will come and go from the local area. Large and new property developments can have a serious impact on any prices and rentals with existing properties. On a monthly basis, visit the local planning office to identify any new property developments in the early stages of approval and implementation.
The capitalisation rates and yields that are achieved when you compare rentals to prices will be a good indicator of the buoyancy of the investment property market. When the property market is soft or slow, the yields tend to rise. When properties are in short supply and in high demand, the yields tend to fall. That assessment will be a reflection of the condition of the market today. High quality properties and those that are in scarcity will always attract a higher price when compared to the income cash flow. Understand what you are looking at when it comes to prices and rentals. If you are going to compare the yields between properties, make sure that they are directly comparable when it comes to location and improvements.
Show your client the different alternatives that can apply in the marketing process. Give your client at least two or three alternatives when it comes to the marketing approach for the given property. Whilst you can make your recommendations in marketing, the alternatives will help the client make a choice that they can afford.
Every property will have an ideal method of sale or lease. That decision will be made on the basis of the target market and the prevailing market conditions. Your recommendations to the client should be quite clear when it comes to the prevailing property conditions today and where the listing will be best promoted.
The client conditioning process should be seriously considered with every property listing. Be prepared to talk the client through the best promotional strategy and package the listing for optimal enquiry.
If the client will not listen to logic and reason as part of the listing process, your only choice is to whether you should take the listing on, or walk away. If the price of the property is too unrealistic, it is better to walk away. You can then protect your professional image and your time.
Lots of people work in a commercial real estate agency and brokerage. Only a small number are really good at the process and can be considered ‘entrepreneurial’. We call them ‘Top Agents’. They work really hard and do the right things every day.
Can anyone rise to the top of the industry and dominate the market as a ‘Top Agent’? The answer is always ‘yes’; in saying that, they need to be very skilled and have an open mind to learning and improving as a professional in the industry.
Over the years you will see so many different situations that you will need to adjust to or handle. When you make those adjustments, the opportunities open up for you as an agent or broker in listings and clients. Seek to improve your processes and systems so you are comprehensively covering your territory and property specialisation.
So what can you ‘tap into’ in the local property market today? Try some of these:
Property investors looking to grow their portfolio with quality stock
Tenants looking to relocate into a better property
Landlords with vacant premises that are dragging down their rental income and cash flow
Corporate tenants that are looking for expansion or growth solutions for the business
Clients that you have previously serviced that may want more help or could be changing focus
Solicitors or Accountants with property clients that need to make some property changes
Property investors that require property management services to help them get though leasing and income pressures
So can you help with any or all of these? Of course you can; it is simply a matter of marketing yourself accordingly. Comprehensively and persistently promote yourself into the local area and those people in the list above.
The cycle of commercial real estate is long and may take months if not years for some clients to get to the next point of action. If you stay in regular contact with the right people in the right way, the leads and the listing opportunities will come your way. The message here is clear; work hard and the business will come.
It is interesting to note that many agents and brokers that are new to the industry will usually take on any listing just to get some stock. Whilst that may be appropriate at the early stages of a career, they should start to focus on exclusive listings and quality properties.
It is no secret that the commercial real estate industry is quite competitive. Most of the clients and the listings that you work with will have some impact or involvement with competing agents. This then says that you need to stand out as the best agent of choice with the correct amount of experience and knowledge to the property type.
Let the client make the choice when it comes to the best agent for the property listing. Show that you have the confidence and knowledge that’s more relevant to the client than those competitors around you.
This then says that your presentation and sales pitch process needs to be of the highest quality. This is a positioning process and requires ongoing daily strategy. Here are some ideas to help you dominate your market share and increase your client or customer profile:
Don’t be too eager to take on every listing that comes your way. Look for quality properties and quality clients. Stay away from the bottom end of the market where listings are too hard to move or distressed clients are not being flexible on price.
Specialise in a property type in your local area. Research the trends when it comes to time on market, supply and demand, pricing, rentals, and marketing strategies. Understand what works and give your clients clear reasons for accepting that information.
Use a checklist as part of your client meetings and client discussions. Let the checklist improve your questioning process and responses. In that way you will be more professional than those agents that rely on memory rather than establish systems.
Develop a series of stories that relate to the local market and your property speciality. Stories will always help you when it comes to the property presentation and the interest of the client.
Carry with you a selection of marketing alternatives and marketing successes in the local area. Chart the trends from the inbound property enquiry when it comes to each property type.
Build your profile personally on the Internet through social media, blogging, and article writing. Those three things would do a lot for your personal branding as an industry specialist. That being said, they do require time and ongoing effort.
When a competing agent puts a signboard on a listing in your territory, talk to the other property owners and the businesses in the immediate vicinity. They may wish to compete with that property already listed.
Build a database that you can use as leverage with your client meetings and discussions. Is very hard for a client to ignore a large database of relevant and accurate information. Show the client as part of your sales presentation that you have a number of prospects already available to inspect the property when the listing has been agreed.
Simple processes like these allow you to position yourself as a top agent of relevance and success. The clients that we serve, like to work with the best agents in the local area; we need to give them the reasons to choose our services over others. Develop the skills, the knowledge and the experience that will help the client work with you when it comes to existing property needs and challenges.
A vacant tenancy in a retail shopping centre can be massive drain on retail business and customer sales for all the tenants surrounding it. For this reason a vacant tenancy has to be resolved quickly and efficiently.
If you have too many vacant tenancies in the one property it can set the foundation for a decline in retail trade. Customers like to visit a property that is attractive, vibrant, convenient, and that has the required tenant mix. Vacancies can impact that profile.
Over time a decline in customer sentiment will have an impact on market rental for the landlord. Your primary focus in leasing and managing a retail property should be to maintain occupancy at a sensible market levels.
To lease a vacant tenancy some real strategies are required. In a ‘rising market’ the leasing process is not so much of a problem, but in a ‘slow or declining market’ the vacancy challenge can be significant. Here are some rules to help the process.
Stay very close to the existing tenant mix and the leases supporting that mix. Some tenants will from time to time have challenges and problems in business or occupation. Keep communicating with the tenants regularly to understand their challenges and help them through any occupancy issues. In a ‘down’ market, a vacancy can be very hard to lease. It can be a drain on rent and outgoings for a very long time.
Make sure that you are working well in advance when it comes to lease renewals or option negotiations. Most leases will have time provisions that apply to the renewal or the option process. That being said, there is nothing to stop you working earlier with the tenant to achieve a satisfactory renewal or option agreement.
Some existing tenants in the property may require expansion or relocation. Be open to their business needs, and identify alternative locations within the property that may suit or solve the expansion or relocation problem.
Review other properties in the local area that may be competing with you and your tenancy mix. Look for the challenges and the opportunities existing in their tenancy mix. Approach their more successful tenants to see if relocation is possible.
Given the sales performance of your current tenancy mix, look at the segments that are quite successful and the others that are not so. There will be reasons for a tenants result in sales. It could be the product or service offering, the tenancy location, the tenant themselves, or the marketing process. Some of these things can be solved through careful management procedures.
Monitor the clustering affect within your property where some tenants seem to be feeding sales off each other. The mix can be improved through improving the clustering process. Identify the tenants that can work with each other with the same customer type. For example, a coffee type tenant could be placed alongside a ladies fashion tenant and a ladies shoes tenant. A coffee tenant would be extending the customers time in the general area and potentially the sales potential.
Consider the placement of the anchor tenants in the property and how they interact with specialty tenants nearby. Proximity to the anchor tenant will be a leasing advantage for some tenancy types.
Create a tenant retention plan that encourages ongoing occupancy for those priority tenants in the mix. The retention plan will also help you when it comes to replacement strategies and removing poor performers from the mix.
Leasing decision should be based on available occupied space, the prevailing market conditions, market rental, lease incentives, and occupancy costs. Stay ahead of these industry trends and challenges. Look for any new or upcoming property developments that could interfere with or change these factors.
If you do have a vacancy in the property, and a long term lease seems to be difficult to achieve, look at all short term occupancy opportunities with some of your other tenants, or casual tenants from elsewhere. Short term occupancy at a lower rental will still help you achieve the vibrancy in the property and maintain the customer’s interest.
With the internet today, commercial real estate agents have many tools at their disposal. They can market not only their properties but also themselves comprehensively and effectively. If you are struggling with getting your name into the property market as a top agent, this audio recording will give you some ideas and processes to use.
Here are some tips that I recorded in MP3 format for my commercial real estate friends. These ideas and comments relate to marketing and branding activities for top agents. You can get some ideas from how you can improve market share.
When it comes to leasing commercial and retail property today, franchise tenants are a special opportunity for property agents. These franchise tenants already have a proven business model, established business brand, and good track record. On a regular basis those franchise tenants are going to be looking for new premises as part of the expansion of their network of operations.
Landlords and Commercial property agents should work closely with these tenant types. To get that process underway, visit surrounding suburbs and towns. Look at the established franchise brands in all property types. See if those brands are already located in your territory or if they would consider a move or an expansion in that way.
So we need to set some rules here:
Franchise tenants know what they want by way of premises given that they understand their customer profiles and ideal premises configuration and location.
The leases used in these circumstances are likely to be a variation of the standard lease used by the franchise tenant.
The lease term will need to match the duration of the franchise agreement.
The branding and signage of the tenancy will require consistency that suits the property but also attracts customers. Brand consistency is really important when it comes to premises choices and occupancy with franchise tenants
Commercial and retail real estate agents can do very well in working with this segment of the market. Get to know the franchise groups and what they are looking for in property type and location.
Here are some questions to ask and issues to work with that can help you with this type of tenant:
What type of property best suits their operations now and in the future? Pay particular attention to expansion and contraction needs. The tenancy may have specific challenges when it comes to ongoing occupancy within their franchise agreement.
What locations are best suited to growth of trade and business? In can be that main roads or highways have something to do with property choice. Property and business exposure can help the franchise group within its branding.
Where will their customer be coming from and why? You will need some local population and business demographics to help you here.
Check out the competitors for the franchise tenant. Whilst the tenant you are working with will already have a good idea about their competitors, you also should seek to understand those market factors.
The rental structure for the tenancy will be a balance between the requirements of the landlord and the cash flow structures of the franchise group. The franchise fee will be an added cost in the viability considerations of the business in occupancy. The landlord will still want a market rental for the premises based on prevailing market conditions. Most franchise groups will take between 5% and 10% from the gross trading figures of the tenant. It is wise to ask the tenant for their cash flow projections based on occupancy costs, expected levels of trade, and local business conditions.
You can do very well as a commercial or retail property agent when it comes to working with these tenancy types. It is simply a matter of understanding and specializing with franchise brands. You can then identify the right properties that suit their business activities and projections.
In commercial real estate from time to time, you will get a slump in sales. That will come from a variety of challenges and market changes. When that occurs, it is important that you adjust your prospecting processes and market focus.
A slump in sales is a reason to shift your personal business practices and market segments. If the sales activity is genuinely slower for a long time, then you should start to look at the alternatives of helping landlords with leasing activity in the local area. Invariably you will find that a new commission opportunity still exists, albeit in a different way.
Here are some rules that should apply to the changing market conditions and a personal slump in sales:
A slump will only continue if you fail to adjust your prospecting and business efforts. In many respects, the downturn may have been created through a lack of personal prospecting and client connection. It is easy to stop prospecting when you have plenty of business on the go. That is the most common problem we see when it comes to this type of industry downturn.
Review your activities when it comes to new business generation. Take a serious look at your database to ascertain that it is up to date and accurate in every respect. If your database is lacking in any way, it will require immediate attention and that will involve plenty of phone calls talking to those people that you have overlooked or not connected with recently.
Talk to all of the clients that you have serviced over the last five years. It is a known fact that property owners and investors work to a cycle of ownership and disposal. Many property owners will act on a property decision or transaction once every 5 to 7 years. That is why the cycle of contact is so important to the business that we generate.
Ask for referrals from the clients and the prospects that you know. This is the easiest relationship building process available to us.
Get back into your sales territory and the streets that contain the quality properties. Door-knock the local businesses to introduce yourself and question them about their current property needs and activities. Most business owners and proprietors will know a lot more about their immediate local property market than you do. They are likely to share some of that information that can lead to some good leads and other connections.
Look for any new property developments and any rezoning applications. You can get this information from the local planning office. Whilst some of these transactions take months if not years to come to fruition, you can position yourself to help those property owners impacted by the changes.
Lift your presence on the Internet through social media activity and also specific property blogging activity. Show the online world that you are a real expert when it comes to the property type and the location.
To get over a slump in sales activity, it is simply a matter of changing your focus and your business habits. Put yourself back into a prospecting mindset and reconnect with the market in every way possible.
In commercial real estate agency you need strict daily procedures and market knowledge to help you build market share. When you start your career in the industry it is very easy to develop poor or incorrect habits that can threaten to derail your career. This is certainly the case if you are modelling your activities off some other agent that is less than professional or somewhat ordinary when it comes to business skills.
Time in the industry does not always build the skills of an individual agent or salesperson. Personal effort is required. Learn and grow your skills and knowledge in every way possible.
It is wise to watch and assess the activities of the best people in the market. Find out what they do and why. Check out their marketing and prospecting skills; see if there is something that you can replicate.
To help you in building your commercial real estate business and listing focus, here are some tips and ideas to develop:
Define your sales territory by location and property type. You can then focus your prospecting into a zone on a ‘street by street’ and ‘property by property’ basis.
Organisation is the key; get a good database to help you with tracking information and leads.
Your ability to prospect will greatly impact the results that you get in listings and commissions. Top agents are great prospectors. This is a very specific skill and it can be refined to suit your market and territory. Practice in dialogue is the key.
Create a marketing folder that contains everything that you need in the field when talking with sellers, landlords, buyers, and tenants. You will need ‘visual’ material including charts, photographs, and comparable properties. Include with that a selection of listing forms and marketing proposals.
Create a set of 3 typical marketing strategies for the property types you work with. They can be used with the clients and prospects that you pitch your services to. The clients that we work with like to see and compare before they make choices in marketing and listing.
Start a weekly assessment of comparable properties, signboard counts, and current internet listings. From those facts you can check out the priorities when it comes to leasing and sale requirements from the market.
Quality listings will always give you better inbound enquiries from buyers and tenants. Assess you territory or sales patch for the best property locations and businesses. Those zones should contain the property targets and property investors that will help you with reaching market dominance.
Talk to more people every day. Always take the opportunity to fill your contact cycle and database with new prospects.
The commercial real estate industry has plenty of opportunity for those agents that work to a system and focus on growth of market share. Take charge of your career and get your systems and action plans in place.
The leasing segment of the commercial real estate market is particularly specialized. Many agents choose only to work on leasing opportunities within their property specialty. That being said, if property leasing is your primary source of real estate income, then you need to consider the quality of property that you work on and the clients that you serve. Low quality listings can be huge amount of work for very little personal outcome or commission. Choose your listings well. Don’t let low quality listings drain your resources and time.
Vacancies in good properties will always attract enquiry. Poor quality properties and vacancies achieve lesser enquiry; that will drag down the inbound enquiry and the achieved rental rate. The net result will be lower commissions. So you need to be selective on the properties and the premises that you work with from a leasing perspective.
So the first priority here is that you should focus on the servicing of good clients and good properties in the market. Research the local area to understand exactly where these clients and properties are located. Put them at the center of your prospecting processes.
It can take time to build the necessary relationships with the appropriate and the best landlords. To make the matter a little bit easier, build an extensive database of business tenants through the region. In that way you improve your value to the landlords that you serve. Soon they will know that you have the necessary tenant contacts and leasing opportunities that they need.
Here are some essential things to do every day as part of specializing in property leasing services:
As a general priority, focus on achieving exclusive listing appointments with the landlords and the vacancies that you service. In this way you can control your market. An openly listed vacancy will give you little opportunity to grow market share, and if you achieve a leasing result it will be by luck more than process.
The first thing that you should do every day would be in telephone prospecting and cold calling. Given that you work with business type tenants, most of your prospecting can occur between 8.00 AM and 10.00 AM. Most of the businesses in your local area will be operational in that time. Your focus should be to talk to the business proprietors and to understand their leasing and occupancy needs. So the prospecting call is a questioning process a rather than a sales pitch. Seek to understand the tenant’s needs and upcoming leasing issues.
Build a significant database as a result of your prospecting activity. That database should be split into tenants of different business types and locations. The tenant database should be separate to the landlord database; it should also be a lot larger. One of the factors of attraction when it comes to pitching your services to a landlord will be that of your database size and its relevance to the property type. For this reason, ensure that your database is comprehensive, large, and totally up to date. It is difficult for a landlord to ignore an agent that has total control and awareness over tenant movement in the local property market.
Stay in contact with all of your clients and most particularly those with an exclusive listing. Keep them advised of the changes to the local property market when it comes to supply and demand for leased space. Watch out for the new property developments that could impact market rentals, lease incentives, and occupancy rates.
Check out the listings that are still on the market and those that are new to your property segment. Wherever possible, identify the resultant lease terms and conditions relating to any finalize lease deal. There will always be a difference between an asking rent and an achieved market rental.
Make sure that your current lease deals are progressing based on the terms of the lease agreement and or current negotiations. Every lease transaction should be supported by valid market rental, guarantees, accurate and legal documentation, and suitable deposits. Stay on top of your current agreements and the parties to the negotiations. Make sure that your lease negotiations are not stalling for any reason.
A leasing agent is always closely watching the activities of tenants and landlords in the local area. You can add to this list above by understanding the greater property opportunity locally and the good clients that you are targeting. Set some rules and start prospecting.