Investor clients are always active in commercial real estate and property. The same focus happens in most major cities around the world.
Some investors will be changing assets frequently as the property market allows; capital gains can be tapped into through timing and choice of the right property types in the better locations. That is where a good commercial property broker or agent can help with market knowledge and timing solutions.
Whilst commercial and retail property can be speculative as an investment type if you don’t follow the rules. Most investors seek to understand the balance of supply and demand, and the prevailing economic sentiment in a location. That is where opportunities can be found.
In this audio program, John Highman talks about how commercial real estate brokers can work with more property investors in a positive way; ultimately in ways that can open up into better property commissions and listings.
Cold calling remains a frustration for many salespeople. Commercial real estate brokerage is no exception. The fact of the matter is that when you get the process of direct calling and database management under control, it gets a lot easier in connecting with new people and growing a valuable list of clients and prospects to tap into with property listings, sales, and leasing activities.
In this audio program, John Highman talks about the things that are really important to a cold calling process and how that fits into commercial real estate brokerage.
In commercial property marketing it is better to look at the outbound call process as exploratory to see if you can help someone; you are not and should not pitch your services across the telephone. Simply see if the person that you are talking to has an interest or a challenge in property occupancy or ownership. There are always many things to talk about and discuss. If you are a real property expert for a location, the call conversation is easy and direct.
Here is the audio file on Cold Calling in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage:
To get started in commercial real estate brokerage and agency today it is essential that you undertake a full review of the property market, your competition, the listings, and the business community. In reviewing those things, you can make some clear choices and take up on the opportunities that you identify.
Whilst you may work for a brokerage within a particular location, there will be strengths and weaknesses to consider and address as you establish your career; make the right choices and build the momentum that you need as an individual broker and agent. The right choices, and some specific action steps will help you move ahead faster in the industry.
Understand your market
Every property market is unique and different; your professional services will need to be shaped into the local market conditions and the opportunities that you identify on the horizon. You can move through some choices relating to sales, leasing, and property management. You can also choose the property types that suit your skills and local property knowledge.
You can develop your skills according to the prevailing market conditions and the property types locally. All of these elements require a definite plan and a definite approach.
Here are some ideas to help you get started in your career in commercial real estate today:
Licensing laws – understand the property licensing laws that apply to commercial real estate in your town or city. Visit the local licensing authority for real estate agents and brokers so that you can see how the licenses are issued, the costs involved, and review the local knowledge required to pass the appropriate examinations. There will always be plenty of other competitors in the location chasing listings and clients. Your skills and your local property knowledge will need to be shaped over time to improve your listings and your commissions. There is an education process here and also the relevant licenses to obtain.
Location specialization – review the location in which you are going to work, and understand the property precincts of activity. You may be restricted in the locations where you can work, so look into the locations specifically and ask all the right questions before you make final decisions. The location or locations may have limitations when it comes to future listing opportunity. The size and the types of assets within the locations will dictate the levels of sales and leasing activity that you can attract.
Professional skills and property knowledge – in looking at a property zone or precinct, understand how you can build the professional skills and the local property knowledge to compete with the other agents. Some agents are better than others, and some of those agents will already dominate the location for particular reasons. That assessment needs to be done as soon as possible as you consider entering into the property market as a broker or agent.
Market specialization – it is very difficult to work with all property types from a sales or leasing perspective. There are just too many facts to understand and listings to cover. Look into the local property market so that you can specialize within certain property types. In that way you can become the agent of choice attracting more business and client opportunity.
Brokerage selection – some brokerages offer more support than others. They can also be very different when it comes to administration, listings, client contact processes, and commissions. There will also be a degree of marketing and promotional support driven from the brokerage level. Ask questions about how these things are done and who pays for each particular process. Marketing in commercial real estate today can be expensive. The listings should be promoted through vendor paid marketing in most cases. You will also require a personal and professional marketing process for yourself. The brokerage may dictate how personal marketing that is done. They may also apply certain costs to the process as part of your employment package. Regardless of who you work for and how many skills you think you may bring to your career, it will very likely take you at least 3 to 6 months to generate some momentum in listings, commissions, and clients. For some brokers and agents, it takes a lot longer. Be prepared for some hard work, and make sure that you choose the correct brokerage to support your actions and momentum.
Personal marketing plan – as mentioned earlier, you should develop a personal marketing program to send a message of attraction to the right clients, the investors, and the business leaders locally who may need your services. You want those people to remember you at the right time when they reach a property or commercial real estate challenge. On that basis your personal marketing plan will be very important. It should cover the media channels available to you both online and off-line. Understand how you can promote your services through your existing listings, your clients, and referrals; also use the fullest promotional opportunities available in social media. Spread your message professionally, personally, and comprehensively using the information from the local area. The property related knowledge that you have now as an industry specialist, and can generate from the location will be a point of difference in your marketing. Use it as leverage when you talk to do people and existing clients.
So there are plenty of things that you can do here to fast track your career in commercial real estate brokerage. Establish a plan to help you get started as a broker or an agent working on commercial property today. Refine that process over time to increase your traction and your career results.
Commercial property activity and hence brokerage should be simplified. Don’t overly complicate things. Establish a system that can work for you with a bias towards simplicity and action. That will then allow you to establish a plan of momentum and track the results that you are achieving.
Condition your clients to the prevailing market conditions – throughout the year certain things will change in your property location and within the property categories. Keep a series of charts and statistics that relate to the prevailing market conditions. You can use those charts as a conditioning process in listing and negotiation activity.
List your properties exclusively – avoid the open listing process. Open listings are of little or no benefit to you. Exclusive listings really do matter in our industry and will provide you with controlled listing stock. When you control the listing, you control the negotiation, the inspections and the marketing. The inquiry with an exclusive listing comes to you as the client’s representative. You can do more with that inquiry and shape the momentum of the deal.
Consolidate and grow your database at every opportunity – from the very start of your career, establish a database and grow it each and every day. It is a personal process and will require your total effort consistently and persistently. You cannot delegate the process. As you talk to new people, you can track the relationships that you establish, and the opportunities that you identify. The conversations that you create with new people will allow you to understand the pressures and the challenges of property ownership, investment, and occupancy.
Look for the pressures of the property market and the people that are needing some pressure relief. Segment your database into locations, client types, and timing requirements.
Every time you create a new listing, revisit your database and see if you can create a match or a short list of people to discuss the listing with.
Many transactions today are the result of off market listing activity and database contact. The conversations that you create as you build your database will be very important to your professional career. Practice the process and improve your client list.
The services that you provide in commercial property management are quite special and should be costed accordingly. Care and consideration is required when you are considering establishing a new fee or quoting on a property management service. There are variables at play that could have an impact on your fees suitability and amount.
If you set the wrong fee in quoting on a property management service, you could position yourself for loss of income over time when compared to the time you are committing to the property and the client. Under resourcing is a big problem in our industry.
Don’t provide the client with a low fee quotation simply to win the new business opportunity as a property management appointment. Understand the property, the client, and the tenancy mix before you set and finalize the fees for service. Look at the ‘big picture’.
So what do you do here?
You should understand all of the property issues that may put pressure on your management services. Many an agent has lost a property management client and property appointment simply because the agent has been unable to control the property efficiently and improve performance over time; under quoting the fee will very likely create that issue.
So what do you need?
You need the right people and the right processes to manage a complex office or retail building today. Don’t underestimate the required skills of the process and the demands of the property. Match the people and the processes to the property.
Here is another error that is all too common. As a general rule, don’t set your fees based on a percentage of passing income. Whilst that may percentage approach be an industry standard in your location, it is only an indicator and should be compared to many other factors and choices. There are other things to look at and consider before you finalize your fee structure and client services.
Assess all the factors
Consider the following factors as you work through this process of property management assessment and opportunity:
Landlord requirements – some landlords are unique and special when it comes to property management requirements and services. The complexity of the property and the cash flow can very likely create pressures on reporting and financial controls. You could find yourself generating many variations of reporting to satisfy the challenges of the property and the clients requirements for information. Interview the client as the landlord before you quote on the final fees for service.
Property complexity – inspect the property completely and thoroughly. There may be issues in the property to control and manage over time. Look specifically into the issues relating to maintenance, rentals, vacancies, lease management, tenant volatility, and property performance. Every property will have certain strengths to work with, and weaknesses to work through and resolve. The weaknesses are the ones that will challenge your task and time management. The weaknesses will also threaten the cash flow and property occupancy over time. Create a business plan for the property to address the known and upcoming weaknesses.
Tenant mix – review the tenancy mix as you inspect the property. Understand the tenants that are trading well and those that are struggling. Identify the tenants that may be under some form of pressure and develop a base plan as to how you may manage that occupancy and improve the overall results. It is a good idea to incorporate a tenant retention plan into the property performance strategy.
Time based comparisons and assessments – when you first take on the property under management, it is likely to be a busy period of time for the first few months as you work through leases, tenants, and maintenance issues. The question to consider here will be how you can get the property under control effectively and efficiently. Some properties can take months to reshape and control. If you are about to commence management of that type and intensity, be very careful as to how you set your fees for service.
Income and expenditure review – the history of the property can tell you something about financial management and cash flow. Understand how the income has been changing over time and if there are any weaknesses in market rental currently. Rental and income weaknesses need to be identified and addressed quickly and efficiently. Comparisons to the prevailing market conditions will be required, and negotiations will need to be commenced as soon as possible. Seek your landlord instructions and comments as part of an income review and opportunity assessment. Know all the facts. Also review the expenditure within the property and the history of net income. Has the property being improving through good financial management or are their hurdles to address? Are there issues or weaknesses of current and future income, and will there be expenditure volatility to be dealt with?
So there are many things to look at when it comes to pricing your commercial property management services. Understand the client, the property, and the tenancy mix before you set the final fees and commence your professional services. Build your brokerage portfolio with care.
A retail shopping center is a special place where the tenant mix just has to match the client and customer requirements for the location. If you make mistakes in retail tenant placement then sales and customer interest in the property will slow. That can only mean on thing and that is a decline in rent.
So there are issues to consider in finding the right tenants and placing them in the property. Certainly the landlord should have a say in what they think about tenants and tenant mix choices, but the center manager should give guidance to the leasing process and tenant placement.
In this audio program, John Highman talks about retail leasing and the important choices to be remembered in attracting and converting tenants to a retail property and or shopping center.
At different times of the calendar year there will be good opportunities to run a sales listing drive. As part of that you will be choosing the best methods of marketing and sale. Business and investor sentiment will also have something to do with the choices made here.
So you have some sales listings? Maybe you want more of that? Either way, here are the main factors of opportunity to tap into as you drive the sales momentum forward locally:
Timing for season and location – look at the property activity for the year, and reflect on the history for the area. Most sales calendars are best commenced just after the Christmas break and also just after the change in the financial year. In each case you have a few months to build momentum on listed properties, and the people looking to buy are not generally distracted in local business issues or holidays.
Best methods of sale for the time of year – you have a few methods of sale at your disposal. Choose the right ones that match the property and the client’s needs. At the basic end of the equation you will have auctions, tender, expressions of interest, and sale at a price. One or more of those methods will be the right choice for your listing. Talk to the client and get their commitment to your recommendations; explain the issue to them, and convert them. Match some vendor paid marketing into the right method of sale, and the exclusive listing process.
Talk to the right investors and property owners – every listing will be more or less attractive to certain segments of the local property market. Find those people by directly target marketing at an individual level. Get involved separately in doing that. Make sure that you meet with the right people in the right places. You want them to know you and remember you as the industry professional that they require.
Repeat contact 300/90 – in our industry, regular contact will always help listing momentum and conversion. All of the people in your database should be spoken to regularly. The 90-day cycle works well. The way to achieve that level of contact will be through deliberate calls, letters, and meetings. The database that you use should be adjusted to bring up that 90-day process of contact automatically.
Track your streets and location progress – when you have anything to sell or market, review the streets and the competing listings. Get very involved in local area marketing. Know what is happening in the streets and do something with that knowledge.
These simple strategies are all relevant and special in the sales drive that you may create in your commercial real estate business. Optimize the process of promotion and property momentum. The first few weeks of any sales campaign are the most important. Get involved and get active.
When you start your career in commercial real estate brokerage, don’t take too long to understand the value of client contact and prospecting. If you want to jump-start your career and grow your market share quickly, you will need to know the local people comprehensively and thoroughly. That process should start immediately. Master the process and get it underway.
Practice will help you through the issues and struggles. Practice every day. Good brokers do exactly that.
So what can you chase and work on?
Many of the property investors and the business owners that we consider as clients need help throughout the year as the property market changes. That help could be in commercial sales, leasing, purchasing, or property performance. The strength of your knowledge and skills across those issues will help you connect with those clients with relevance at the right time and offer the best levels of service. Know how to talk across those matters in a real and significant way.
Here are some specific ideas to help you kick-start your career and fast track the results that you are seeking:
Get out of the office every day – when you get out into your territory or designated property precincts, you will see issues of change and opportunity. Spend at least half a day out of the office talking to people in your territory. Conversations are critical to finding the leads and opportunities that exist. Become very familiar with your territory and precinct at a property and personal level.
Street by street coverage – get some maps of the area so that you can track your activities on a Street by Street basis. As you move through the streets, identify the buildings and the businesses. Put that information into your database for later resolve and research.
Business by business coverage – in considering your local area, there will be plenty of businesses that you can talk to over time, and on that basis organization at a personal level will be required. Talk to the business leaders in each case through a simple cold calling and door knocking process. Those business leaders will know more about the location than you do. They can also introduce you to the leads and the opportunities that they know are about to happen.
Leasing segments – tenants and landlord services will shift and change throughout the year as the supply and demand factors similarly change in the location. Business sentiment will be the primary catalyst to tenancy relocations and occupancy retention. Keep talking to the tenants, and you will then help your landlords retain or find the best tenants for the occupancy requirement.
Simple conversations – as you go about your business day in your territory or precinct, create conversations with the ‘locals’. Make friends and strike new business acquaintances. Our business is not that complicated, but it is largely based on personal contact. Get to know more new people every day.
Marketing online – it is interesting to note that most agents and brokers are very ordinary in their personal online efforts. You can turn that weakness in your competitors into a massive online momentum for you and your business. Understand the best ways to use social media with due regard for market updates and useful local area information. The search engines are attracted to information that has been carefully prepared for the local area with due regard for keywords. Your business profile online should be driven into keywords and market segments. That will help your online profile. Don’t confuse your online messages with too many keywords.
In commercial real estate today the top agents for a location are recognised as the industry specialists and local authorities in both sales and leasing when it comes to particular property types. Those top agents provide exceptional value for the clients that they serve. It is a deliberate marketing position on their part. How would you compare on this assessment?
Fact and Not Experiment
Real estate marketing today in both sales and leasing is not an experiment. It is a deliberate and definite process of investigation and research to attract targeted inquiry and achieve the best possible outcomes in either property price or rental. Time on market also has something to do with the results achieved.
So these three things all come together here, and those things are part of preparing for promotion of the property. An agent of authority knows how to achieve results.
So how can you show that you are the complete authority and property specialist? What can you do to lift your profile above that of your competitors? The simple answer is that you should develop some definite local area marketing strategies and build your profile at each and every opportunity in a professional way.
Here are some ideas to help you establish a real authority status as the top agent for your location:
Administration – Make it easy for your clients to move through their property challenge. The communication and administrative processes for the client should be crafted with that in mind. Some clients have little or no understanding of just what happens in the sale or leasing process. They are under stress, and you can help resolve that. Make it simple and keep them on track in the sale or leasing process.
Track record – When you achieve a result in a sale or lease situation, tell the local area and the people in it about the results achieved. Do that with case studies, emails, social media, and editorials. You can also publish articles on the article directories of interesting topics for a location.
Market share – Be seen as the agent of specialization for the location. Work in a zone and with certain property types; that precinct focus will help you with boosting personal branding and marketing. The agents that win the majority of the listings are those that can show that they dominate market share.
Established presence – Your coverage of both online and offline marketing will help you with your market presence. How can you do the promotional things with care and consideration? Focus on signboards for exclusive listings, and also online adverts of a dominance for a location. Be seen in the market place.
Are you ready to show the people of the property market that you are the best professional solution? Use these ideas to do just that.
When you pitch and present your brokerage services to a new client in commercial real estate, the connection and engagement process should be well considered before you get to the property meeting.
In simple terms you only have a short period of time to capture the interest of the client and move them into and across your property recommendations. Clarity is really critical to getting the client to see what your saying and why that is so important to their property situation or resolution.
So what can you do? It doesn’t matter if you are pitching in sales, leasing, or property management, the same rules apply. You should have an engagement strategy that moves a client into your ideas and property recommendations.
In this audio John Highman talks about that very process of pitching and presenting your services to a client.
A sales team in commercial real estate brokerage is typically (or should be) a group of like minded sales professionals in control of their market, their clients, the territory and their special property types. When you look into the team there are special indicators to watch and track as the team gets results in listings, clients, commissions, and referrals.
Commercial property today is as competitive as ever; top sales teams should be working to a plan and strategy for their location. The real estate ‘year’ is most commonly between February and November each year. Most of the sales and leasing transactions will be done in just those 10 months.
In this audio program, John Highman talks about the importance of tracking and monitoring the performance of the sales team.
If you are looking to grow your market share and improve the results for your clients, then you simply must seek and convert vendor paid marketing as part of your business model. It is the best solution for creating inquiry. It is also the best solution for getting results for the clients that you work for.
Lift Enquiry in Better Ways
As the level of property inquiry escalates as part of a dedicated and special promotional program, this is what typically happens:
Your database grows with quality people calling you on the better listings
Better quality listings allow you to speak to active investors and business leaders for the location
Your existing listing stock allows you to talk to other local people.
You get known as a property specialist for the location and that then helps you build listings with other locals
Other local property owners get to notice you as the ‘go to person’ for the location and property type
So these are all good things. Your ability to create vendor paid marketing will help you get started on the road to improved market presence.
So here are some ways to sell the marketing message and the requirement for vendor funds in your listing pitch:
Vary your packages offered – Most clients like to have a choice when presented with property matters and challenges. Give them 3 different approaches to marketing and advertising coverage (also provide the reasons for the different packages). When they have choices, the advertising spend gets a bit easier.
Show the value of a timed campaign – When should the campaign start and why is that the case? You should have answers to those questions and feed those matters into the client presentation.
Focus in on a target marketing – Put your targeted buyers or tenants into your campaign and categorize them for the client. That then makes it easier for the client to see who you are chasing for inspections and how you are going to create their interest.
Differentiate between local area marketing and regional coverage (where the property makes it necessary). There are differences in approach for each market segment, so treat them differently in your marketing.
Split campaign focus into primary and secondary coverage both online and offline – When you have done this, you can stage the campaign into segments and points of focus.
Use a private website portal to help the client see your feedback and results coming in – Make it easy for the client to see the results of recent marketing and inspections. A private portal can easily be merged into your website for the VIP clients and Exclusive listings that you have now and those that you will convert.
Put yourself into the property campaign – Help the client see that you are important to the promotion of the property, because you will be doing certain things that are critical to getting results with both inquiries and inspections.
From these simple and yet specific things, you can drive better levels of property enquiry. Look at your listing processes in commercial real estate now and consider how you can convert vendor paid marketing with each and every presentation that you make; your career will escalate faster if you can resolve the equation.