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The Things I Have Learned About Clients in Commercial Real Estate

city buildings on river

Over many years, I have worked for and with many commercial real estate customers.  In saying that, the variation of customer focus and interaction was sometimes large, unexpected, and challenging.  (NB – you can get plenty of commercial real estate tips here in our Snapshot program)

Not all clients and prospects are ‘equal,’ and should be respected for the individuals that they are and the property ‘challenges’ that they face.  The fees that you set for working with some of these ‘high end’ clients on a complex project or property challenge should be well considered based on your predictable time and effort.

Understand them first and foremost

The message to remember with some if not all clients and prospects is in the need to get to know them comprehensively first and foremost; that is in their thinking, targets, challenges, and investment goals.  You can only provide ‘help’ when you understand the ‘big picture.’

Look for the patterns and strategies that you can provide help with.  Only offer the client your fullest services and commitment when you fully understand what they are doing, what they are facing, and what they are looking for in solutions.

High value clients

Some clients are better than others from a ‘value’ perspective to you.  Have you set your ‘value’ criteria?  Try some of these for starters:

  • Repeat business over time
  • Property portfolio by size, location, and type
  • Services variation (sales, leasing, and asset management)
  • Commissions by amount and frequency
  • Referral opportunity from friends and acquaintances

In looking at the list, it is easy to see how some clients will be higher ‘ranking’ than others.  Categorize the people that you know now, and can connect with.  Communicate with ‘locals’ for the ‘right reasons.’  Focus your prospecting and communication efforts into the best individuals in a location.

So, where can you start with all this?

Look at your database of clients and prospects, and then split that list into VIP’s and ‘others’.  Most of your prospecting and new business efforts should focus into the VIP’s in your client or contact list.  When you know the value that these people can bring you, then you can know what to do in communication and connection.

Here are some facts about clients in commercial real estate brokerage today:

  1. They are always out there looking for properties to act on. If you have a good selection of high-quality exclusive listings, you will find other ‘high quality’ investors approaching you about listing information and inspections.  The ‘quality’ rule is easy to follow and understand.
  2. They require market evidence. Keep abreast of local property trends and changes so that you can use them in an informational and relevant way.  You should capture the facts of the larger deals in sales and leasing so you can use those points in your client conversations, presentations, and listing pitches.  Market evidence is hard to refute or dispute.
  3. They like to work with ‘specialists.’ Most clients like to work with the established and active property experts for a location.  Real estate is not an ‘experiment’; put yourself into a ‘specialization’ category and help your clients and prospects understand that fact.
  4. They know what they are doing when it comes to local property.  So, take your time in helping them, and show them respect as you move through their asset challenges and known issues. Seek to understand them first before you pitch your ideas and strategies.
  5. They will generally listen to logic. When you work from a basis of local market evidence, the clients and prospects will listen.  Have some visual and informational tools to use in the customer conversation or meeting process.
  6. They like to have a ‘win’ with a listing, negotiation, or inspection. Some negotiations can be lengthy and complicated.  Let your clients feel as though they are in control as you move them ahead, and that they are at the ‘winning’ end of the equation.  A small ‘win’ will usually be a valuable tool to closing off on a negotiation or transaction.  In saying all of this, remember who your client is in the transaction, and help them move on the right opportunity.

Property clients are at the center of everything we do in commercial real estate brokerage.  Market yourself, your knowledge, relevance, and skills into your customer list.  That is how things work in commercial property today.

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How to Exponentially Increase Your Business Based On Trust

city at night

Trust is a big part of the commercial real estate business today. The clients and the customers that we serve will generally be attracted only to the brokers and agents that they trust; there is too much at stake with the property challenge to do otherwise.  How do you rank on this assessment?  NB You can join our free real estate training here.

 

Certainly market share and recent property activity will also have something to do with client trust, attraction and transaction opportunity, but ultimately the clients and the customers that we serve want to trust the agent that they work with.  Your local profile has to support that trust process.

 

Confidence about your services, and a complete coverage of the local property market will help you connect to the client in this trustworthy way; professionalism supports the process.

 

Give the client reasons to use your services; get away from the generic ‘pitch and dump’ process used by many ordinary agents.  Be special and be real when conveying your professional skills to the clients that you serve.

 

People Rule!

 

People are at the centre of our real estate opportunities today. Whilst you may know a lot about the properties for sale or for lease locally, you do need to know the people behind each and every property. They need to trust you to get the best price or rent in their property challenge.

 

The message here is that you can significantly increase your commercial real estate business based on facts, trust, and regular communication. There are plenty of clients and prospects in the local area to connect with in a continuing and relevant way. Most agents struggle with the communication and connection process; that is an amazing opportunity for the agents that can work to a plan and a strategy.

 

So what are you doing with this now?  Your prospecting model and its ongoing contact process will be critical to the real estate business that you want to create. When the market slows or the economy struggles, your database and the people that you know in the database will be the foundation for ongoing business opportunity. The agent with the best database and relevant client contact processes will usually be highly successful in any market at any time.

 

So what can you do here? Over time you can build elevated levels of trust with your clients and prospects through a deliberate prospecting and marketing process. You can provide relevant information for the location and the various property types.

 

Ongoing Contact?

 

Through deliberate and ongoing contact, you can help local business owners and property owners with their property challenges; you can help them with information relating to rents, prices, time on market, and future supply. Build the long-term relationships with the people that really matter in the property market locally. Local area relevancy is really important to your client and customer contact processes.

 

So let’s help shape your professional profile with the people in your local area.  Here are some ideas to help you become a trustworthy agent or broker with the people that you know in your town or city:

 

  1. Seek to understand their property situation as it exists today. There are differences to look for with investment and property ownership. Will the property provide all the elements and attributes they require into the future for both ownership and or occupancy?
  2. Look for pressures and weaknesses in any property and the location. Are some of the local property factors changing that could shift the balance of property performance or ownership locally? Advise the client of the local factors that can influence their property challenge. Provide solutions to move through the challenges; make sure that your solutions are not ‘generic’.
  3. Position the client for the future so that they can ride out any difficulties in the best possible way. Show them how you can help them in a valuable and tangible way.  Show them how you will put your resources into their property challenge; be relevant and real as you do so.
  4. Improve property performance through better tenant mix decisions, cash flow improvement and healthier lease documentation. It takes time to shape a property and a tenant mix for the future.
  5. Off market recommendations are valuable so understand how you can introduce the right people to the property and resolve a client’s challenge early, before it becomes a bigger issue. Match up people and properties wherever possible. Off market transactions are common when you know a lot of local property owners and occupiers.
  6. Confidentiality at all times applies to all property transactions and your client relationships. Remember just who your client is and how you can help them.  They pay your commission!
  7. Regular contact with local information will help with all of your clients. Put relevancy into your client and prospect contact processes using local information in the form of charts, photographs, and case studies.
  8. Remember the conversations and facts with all of your clients and customers as you connect with them into the future. You do this so you can repeat the right facts and solutions in the next conversation.  Let the client see that you really do have full control over the issues with their property, the facts as they exist in the local area, and their concerns in moving to the next step.
  9. Provide clear recommendations to your clients with all your property solutions. Give the client 2 or 3 choices as you talk about their property and its marketing, the upcoming negotiations and the best available listing processes.  A client that has a few choices will not feel pressured and thereby will be more inclined to make a good decision in a timely way to help the property marketing process move head.

 

These are all valuable strategies to adopt with your clients and prospects.  Get closer to them as they work through the problems of property ownership and occupancy.  Be the top agent that they really need; market yourself accordingly.