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.