Given that the industry can be so competitive, actions and points of focus for each agent or broker can be tuned to a process and results can be tracked. Know your market, do your research, and then take reliable and regular steps forward with listings and clients.
Career Focus Points on MP3 Audio
In this audio program, John Highman talks about some of the simple and yet highly effective skills that help build a career in commercial real estate faster. You can listen to or download the audio program right here:
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.
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.
The people that achieve the best results in commercial real estate brokerage are usually those that have taken the time to develop a solid skill base and knowledge of a particular area. They have then established a real passion for the industry and the activities within it.
Certainly you will have good days and bad days as a broker or an agent, as you will in any other industry, but the fact of the matter remains that commercial real estate can be one of the most rewarding careers for you to focus into.
Take the time to understand the industry in your location, observing how the top agents work with property opportunities, clients, and listings. Naturally you want to know if the area is overly saturated with too many agents; too much competition will slow your progress.
In this audio recording John Highman talks about the reasons why you should develop a real passion for commercial real estate brokerage and specialized segments within the industry.
Every commercial real estate agent should have a prospecting model. In an ongoing way they should be connecting with new people each and every day. That can be a challenge for some brokers and agents as they balance workloads and property listings. The fact of the matter is that we should all be careful when it comes to personal time focus and client commitment.
Attract and Focus on the Best Properties and Clients
We should be focusing all or our prospecting activities and model on the best opportunities and the best clients locally. Applying that back to the beginning of the contact pipeline cycle, we should be concentrating our prospecting skills into the best segments of the market and particularly the best people owning an occupying the prime buildings and the prime properties.
We all get our fair share of poor quality listings and redundant properties. That being said, we do have a few choices to make when it comes to accepting a listing and working for a particular client. As you grow your market share, be increasingly selective as to the properties that you list, and the clients that you work for.
The larger properties and the better listings will always create better enquiry churn and activity from your marketing activities. If you focus on the higher quality listings within a location, the levels of enquiry will always be higher, more active and interesting. That is how you can build a pipeline of investors and prospects faster within a location.
Here are some ideas to help you improve your prospecting activities within your town or city:
COVERAGE: Understand the coverage of your prospecting activities. There is no point in spreading your prospecting activities across a huge area or a large town. You have limited resources and time to cover the market. Consider your territory and split into priority precincts of prospecting focus. You should have your primary zone of prospecting. Most of your new business should come from that defined area. Everything else outside a primary zone will be a secondary focus; listings may come to you from the secondary zone but you would not specifically prospect into the secondary zone. Understand your time as a resource, and focus all of your prospecting on a time basis into the primary precinct of property activity. Typically you will need about 2500 properties to focus on in that primary precinct so you will need to get organised. Over the year you can get to know all of the best property owners, the business leaders, the lease expiry dates, and investment opportunities.
LOCAL PROPERTY: Focus within particular property types locally. When you focus your prospecting activities within a particular property type, you can get to know exactly what’s happening when it comes to prices, future supply, and time on market, contracts, and leasing. You can also predict what challenges may exist when it comes to the segment and the location. That then allows you to adjust your marketing activities and any negotiation factors that arise.
PRIME PRECINCTS: Get to know the owners of quality properties in prime locations. As a commercial real estate specialist, you will already be focusing on certain segments of properties such as office, industrial, or retail. Within those segments, identify a small group of prime properties locally. Determine the ownership identity of those properties and make contact. Connect with the owners and build relationships at professional level. Understand that those property owners are likely to be talking to many local agents, so your connection will need to be comprehensive and professional at all levels.
THE BIG END OF TOWN: Track the property ownership and occupancy activities of the larger businesses and corporations in your primary prospecting precinct. Certain businesses will be more successful than others and therefore more active when it comes to property. Certain industries will be looking for resolving factors of expansion and contraction. You can and should focus your prospecting into the active segments of the local companies and businesses.
These four simple approaches to commercial real estate prospecting will help you find the right people to talk to in a timely and ongoing way. Focus on building relationships. As a general rule, don’t list or work with low quality listings unless there is a bigger agenda to support the approach.
Understand that your pipeline of prospecting will be an ongoing event and will require a commitment at a personal level to keep up the momentum and the persistence. Over time you should be talking to many hundreds of people in an ongoing and relevant way.
Keep it moving
Connect with all the people in your database at least once every 90 days. When you can identify a property need or challenge, the frequency of contact will be shortened to monthly or even weekly.
Relevance is the key to making the contact prospecting process work effectively with reasonable levels of conversion. The relationships and the trust that you build through that regular contact will eventually lead to listings and property requirements. That’s how any top agent will build market share and grow market relevance.
Most agents and brokers that are struggling in the property market today are doing so for the simple reason that they are not ‘relevant’ to the prospects and clients that are looking for property help.
Relevance wins property business; the ‘generic approach’ to commercial real estate has little magnetism for pulling in listings or commissions.
Disaster strikes when there is no real reason for clients, business owners, investors, or tenants to remember a particular broker or agent, and particularly so at the right moment when they are handling property issues and challenges.
So where are things now?
Want to improve your real estate business? Answer this question. Why should a commercial property client or prospect choose you to help them with a property challenge? It’s a scary question to ask; commonly the answers given by most agents are ‘generic’ and bland like these. They can provide:
Local market knowledge
Team service for the client
Client communication, etc.
All of these things are too ordinary, and just about every agent or broker uses the same ‘ordinary stuff’ which inevitably makes little or no difference to the clients that they serve. The statements are of no real attraction or interest to any client wanting property help.
So what can you do here when pitching your services? Clients prefer ‘specifics’ that are matched to their property challenges. For example:
A database of 2000 tenants in the location, 250 of which have been shortlisted to the client’s property listing (Leasing)
15 parties ready to inspect the new listing in the next week (Sales or Leasing)
Savings of $40,000 to be found in energy by load shedding (Property Management)
4 investors that missed out on the last local campaign are to be contacted (Sales)
If you haven’t got a very specific answer to that question given, then it is likely you will struggle for some time in converting business leads and opportunities.
Why do you have to determine a clear answer to that question? In simple terms you must be able to market yourself specifically as the best agent for the job. The only way you can do that is through a mixture of the following:
Locational coverage – Split your city up into a ‘primary zone’ for implementing all your prospecting, and a ‘secondary zone’ where you will still take business if it arises. In this way you can really cover the right people and the right properties in your ‘primary zone’. This extra level of focus in prospecting helps you with local area information, market evidence, and personal marketing. The question arises as to how many properties and or owners you should have in your ‘primary zone’. The answer is related to your capabilities to cover the patch with a direct marketing approach. You are the person that has to make the calls, create meetings, and door knock streets. In an ideal city location, choose a primary zone of properties and streets containing about 2000 properties. Then you can split the location up into activity zones that you can move through in a logical way.
Marketing mastery – Ensure that all of your promotional efforts are well crafted and implemented. Use words, phrases, photographs, and layouts that pull in the enquiry. Top agents are usually respected and chosen for their marketing skills.
Database depth and relevance – If you prospect directly into your area, you can build a database that will help you build your business. It is very hard for a client to overlook an agent that has a top quality database containing people from the location and within the targeted segment of business owners, tenants, buyers, or business leaders.
Property speciality – Get to know everything that you can about a property location and speciality. From that effort you will then understand where the next listings are likely to evolve and why that is the case. You will also know what things are selling or leasing for. You will understand why some levels of enquiry are better than others with certain listings. When you understand the enquiry, you can do something with it and improve it over time. Know what people are looking for in local commercial property and then market comprehensively into that.
Commercial real estate brokerage does not need to be complicated but it does need to be relevant. Get involved with your property market and show the right people why you are highly relevant to them as they seek to solve a few property problems.
Commercial investment sales is a special part of the property market. The rewards can be high in commissions providing you have sufficient listings, market share and qualified enquiries.
I also like to insist on ‘exclusivity’ as part of the property listing process. In this video I explain why that is important if you are to tap into the investment sales opportunities in your town or city.
See some ideas on Video about how Brokers can establish themselves in that lucrative segment of the industry.
Assess the reputation of your commercial real estate brokerage today as it stands in the current property market. Also assess your reputation as an agent in the location. What are the levels of reputation currently? Can things be improved?
Trust and reputation are big issues in commercial real estate today. There are some ‘reputation’ issues here to consider when it comes to commercial real estate brokerage performance and market coverage. Where do you stand and what is the position?
Why is this so?
The reputation of any brokerage and or agent can significantly impact current and future enquiry rates and conversions. The reputations can also impact future referral conversions and repeat business over time.
Many of us will have seen agents and brokerages that are struggling to find listings and convert commissions. There are many potential reasons for those things to be problems; however real estate brokerage marketing and reputation are key elements and indicators to watch in the success of any agent today.
If you are to be newly employed as an agent by a commercial real estate brokerage, explore the local area first to understand the reputation of that business today, and what it may have been over the years. There will be strengths and weaknesses of reputation to identify and review, some of which will impact your ability to locate and convert new business. You want to work with the best brokerage in the best location.
What are the indicators that you should look for here and question when it comes to the brokerage reputation? How can your business activities fit within the brokerage? Consider the following:
Previous transactions – Any active commercial real estate brokerage should have had plenty of previous business activity in a location. That will be a good indicator of market coverage and market share. A brokerage with a good market share will be an advantage to you when it comes to prospecting for new business, listing conversions and client growth.
Referral business – Over time you will want to convert referral business where possible with your existing clients. That means you will need a good business reputation and a high level of professional service to support your referral activities. Asking the right questions at the right time with your clients will help you convert referral business. Most clients will allow you to access referral opportunities if your professional skills are sufficiently high and they have a good level of trust in working with you.
Repeat business – Some other clients that you work for will be repeat customers in many different ways. You will be able to move across sales, leasing, and property management opportunities. Will your brokerage have the necessary staff and skill mix to support those special property disciplines?
The client database – Any established brokerage should have a comprehensive and up to date client database. That then allows for cross selling and leasing across the broader client and listing inventory. Ask a few questions about how you can interact with in the client database of the brokerage. Also ask a few questions about how you can grow your own database and who will own the data within that prospecting effort.
Market coverage – Look into the area and the precinct that the brokerage currently covers. From that investigation you can assess the levels of competition and the levels of dominance that you will be competing against. Get to know the top agents and or brokerages that you will be the competing with. When you understand those competitive factors, you can modify your marketing and prospecting activities accordingly.
Client interaction – Our industry is predominantly client related. Most of the listings that you create will be centred on client interaction and the client relationships that you build over time. If you convert new clients as part of your prospecting activities, how can you protect those clients from your competitors? How can you stand out as the agent of choice when it comes to the location and the property type? Your strategies relating to client interaction and market coverage will need to be well defined and established.
Online marketing – The brokerage should have some active and professional online marketing strategies underway at all times. Generally those factors will include the industry portals, websites, social media, and database interaction. How can you tap into those specific online marketing strategies?
Newspaper marketing – Understand the levels of newspaper marketing undertaken by the brokerage in your location. What are the levels of marketing that apply? How much inbound enquiry comes from newspaper marketing today? Marketing is not the only way to pull in the new business although it is a big part.
Community involvement – Can you say that your brokerage is deeply involved in the local community, and particularly the correct segments? Is your brokerage doing everything it can to attract enquiry from local property investors and the overall business community? Given that most commercial real estate activity comes from the business community and the investors that are investing locally, your brokerage should have specific strategies active at all times across community groups to tap into both of those segments. How can you be part of that community involvement? What community groups can you join?
So there are some good things for you to do here when it comes to reputation building and brokerage coverage. Ask plenty of questions within your brokerage as to each of these factors mentioned. You will soon see the place for you to build your marketing and listing activities, as well as commission opportunities.
To get a reasonable market share around you in commercial real estate brokerage you should consider your daily efforts and actions. Understand what you are doing and not doing. Understand the things that are wasting your time. From that point it is just a matter of change.
Caution! Some agents and brokers never change their ‘problem’ habits, and on that basis they struggle for their entire career. Things don’t need to be that way.
How’s Your Business?
Perhaps you are wasting your own time in real estate due to a lack of process and quality in your business systems? So it is time to step up to move into a better level of property performance. It’s a good year in the industry and there are things out in the market to be done.
If you are lacking listings, enquiries and clients, then you are likely to be lacking good business processes centred on the best clients and properties. Here are some ideas to help you resolve that:
Think about and action your prospecting around your listings – When you have a listing in your area and within your property speciality, you have something to work with. Use your listings as reasons to talk to others in the street or suburb. Remember that business owners need to relocate from time to time, and property investors look to upgrading their portfolios. Help those people remember you at the right time by getting in contact and staying in contact in a relevant way.
Referrals – When you have finished a successful transaction you will have the opportunity to explore referrals, leads, and repeat business. If the client is satisfied with your professional efforts then there are things to do with referrals and leads. Help other people to direct you to the next clients and property owners that you can serve.
Previous clients – Go back in your sale and leasing records to find those people that you and or your business has helped over the last 5 years. It is likely that some of those people are still active in the property market. Do they want some more help?
Other agent’s clients – Don’t be afraid of positioning yourself with clients that currently use other agents and brokers. There could be some reasons for those clients choosing a different agent. Professionalism will help you connect with those people and stay in their memory for the right reasons.
FSBO – This is a strange market segment, although a useful one. Some FSBO owners eventually give up trying to resolve their property problems. Let’s face the facts; they probably don’t have the contacts, the database, or the skills to negotiate a sale or lease deal professionally. Can you help them?
Investors – Local property investors are great clients for the long term. They need all types of help across tenant mix issues, leasing, selling, renovating, and portfolio mix. When they trust and respect your skills, you can do something to help them.
Business Owners – Stay in contact with local business owners. They will require professional property assistance at some time in the future. Keep them up to date with prices, rents, enquiries, and stock availability. Share your facts about the property market and pull in the local business owners that can use your help.
These simple strategies will help you attract more new business in the best possible ways. Make yourself known locally as the agent of choice; that agent that people must go to when property challenges present.
In commercial real estate brokerage I frequently get asked about how new agents can find the right people and clients to serve in their town or city. The question is so common that I just wonder why those salespeople do not know the obvious or take so long to understand it. The industry is similar to many others; diligent focus and work is required at a personal level to find new business, and when that happens, results occur.
The new business is always out there to attract and convert across sales, leasing, and property management. Yes, I know it takes time, but the diligence and actions of ‘top agents’ always shines through when it comes to finding the best clients, properties, and commissions.
It is my firm belief that you cannot be a top agent without some personal plan of prospecting action that you implement every day and refine over time. Regular actions create habits, and habits in our business change listing conversions and commissions.
In commercial real estate brokerage today don’t take too long to take the required actions to boost your marketplace and client penetration. Get involved with your market so that you can identify the right property listings and the quality properties to work with over time.
There are plenty of good listings available for the agents that focus their prospecting efforts. It just takes a plan and a process of action.
Here are some valuable ideas to help you take deliberate action to boost your marketing profile and listing opportunities:
Any listed property in your location is an excuse for you to talk to the surrounding property owners. On that basis you can market yourself to the adjoining or nearby owners of properties listed with other agents. It is quite common that nearby owners will seek to compete from a sales or leasing perspective with the listed property nearby. You can be the brokerage solution to that process and have a signboard on that alternative property promotion at the same time as your competing agents.
Devote 2 or 3 hours per day to the prospecting and marketing process. There is absolutely no reason why you should be in the office sitting behind a desk unless you have a deal to negotiate or a client to meet. The rest of the time you should be out of the office talking to new people and finding new opportunities. That should be your focus for 2 or 3 hours per day.
Make plenty of calls every day to new people. Use your mobile telephone comprehensively and directly as part of a cold calling process to people within your property market. Make plenty of outbound calls every day, and as part of that have a focus on creating new meetings. Make it a personal target to establish two new meetings per day with new people.
Identify the best properties and the best clients. Undertake the required research of your property location and your targeted territory of listings. Understand exactly where the best properties are located and as part of that process determine who the owners are in each case. When you focus on the quality side of new property business and listing generation, the inbound enquiries tend to be more substantial over time. That can then help you rise to the top of your property market as an industry specialist for the location.
Ask for referral business as part of client interaction. With every positive client and prospect meeting, there is the opportunity to ask for referral business. It is far easier to convert commercial real estate business from referrals than it is from the cold calling or direct prospecting process. Merge the referral business process into your client and prospect interaction. One successful contact can lead you towards many other property owners and business decision makers.
So there are some very specific things that you can do here in commercial real estate brokerage as part of boosting your personal profile and market share. The best way to do that is by taking immediate action in your local market place, your town or your city. Talk to plenty of people in an ongoing way.
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When a commercial investment property is taken to the market for sale or lease, you will get some property owners that like to control the process and on that basis they can be very reluctant to give out the listing ‘exclusively’. They think that by spreading the listing across a number of local property agents, they will get the best coverage of enquiry.
Of course, that assumption is very wrong and quite counterproductive. Most open listings stay on the property market for a very long time. Exclusive listings sell faster due to the marketing efforts and dedication of the particular listing agent.
Here are some facts about ‘open listings’:
The client will not generally tell you the whole story about the property listing until you bring them an enquiry.
Many agents will be feeding the client at the same time with stories and ideas from the property market.
Negotiating with clients that have their properties ‘openly listed’ is a difficult process given that they will not generally trust everything you say.
Multiple agents confuse the client with conflicting market trends and evidence.
These listings will stay on the property market far longer and will by comparison have limited enquiry.
The marketing spend by clients will be limited and therefore enquiry will be ‘luck’ generated more than personally driven.
These clients think that their ‘friend’ in the other brokerage should have a chance to sell the property as well.
Inflated pricing will generally attract open listings. Why would you take on a property that is priced well above market?
So if you really want to market a listing of this type, what do you have to do? Try some of these ideas:
Pitch the listing at the right price. If the client will not adjust to the market conditions and price ranges, then walk away from the listing.
Condition your client to the types of targeted buyers as you see them. You can use the results of any inspections to do that.
Show the client the limitations on inbound enquiry for those properties without ‘exclusivity’. Given them the chance to take up ‘exclusivity’ with you.
Convert some vendor paid marketing funds. If the client is serious about wanting a sale, then they need to spend some money on marketing. Show them why that is the case.
Give plenty of feedback so the client knows that you are the better agent helping them.
You can convert ‘open’ listings if you really try. It is hard work and the pressures of other agents talking to the same client can be derailing to the results that you are promoting. Make your choice to work on the best listings and clients that show a reasonable chance of conversion.