Some listings in commercial real estate are quite slow to attract enquiry and move to the next level of an offer or negotiation. That is where our creative professionalism is so important for the clients that we serve.
Sometimes, you will find that the listing will stay on the listing books for too long. In such situations, it is necessary to try for a listing extension. Your skills in client communication at that time will be fully tested as you ask for more time. The client must believe that you are still the right person to continue to work on the property and handle the challenges that it or the property market presents. Are you the best agent to stay on the listing for the future?
Time on Market Problems?
Why will a property take longer to sell? Try some of these for starters:
The property market is slow to respond due to economic circumstances in the region or the business community
Enquiry is low for the property type or location
It could be the wrong time of year to market the property
The price range for the property is too high or it is out of the range of most buyers
There are too many other properties on the market currently and those properties are not moving.
The target market for the property is too narrow or wrong for the listing
Not enough marketing was done at the time of initial promotion
Too many new properties are coming into the market creating a situation of oversupply
The business community is moving from a purchase priority to a lease priority
There are plenty of reasons for listing ‘stagnation’. You may also have other local issues that are also evident in your location, and those that you believe are fundamental reasons for the slower listing enquiry. Either way, you must know the reasons behind a ‘stale listing’ and its failure to attract local property enquiry. Strategy then takes over; that’s your job.
Ask for an adjustment to the method of sale or pricing if you believe that change will attract more enquiry.
Change the method of sale to suit the preferred target market.
From these issues you can create a timeline of changes for the client to see and consider. The clearer that you can be in this communication with the client will help you in winning a listing extension.
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.
When it comes to promoting a commercial property for sale or lease, try to put some suspense and anticipation into the property campaign. Get away from ‘generically’ marketing, and be very specific in your promotional efforts.
Know the Property
Look at the property for what it is and the strengths that the property provides over time for the buyers or tenants. Understand the target market for each exclusive listing so that you can really tap into creative marketing processes that pull in the right segments of people.
Ultimately you want a reasonable level of property enquiry with every exclusive listing; from that you will create inspections and lots of them. How can you do that? In simple terms you look at your property and build the marketing campaign or plan using relevant promotional leverage. You then implement that promotional plan.
Your Promotional Plan
Here are some ideas to help with promoting your next high quality listing:
Give your property a name or identity – If there is some history about the property or the location, you can use that information as a point of leverage and branding in your advertising copy. People relate to a story. The history of the property is likely to have a few stories that you can use in your headlines, feature points, and editorials.
Set the time for the campaign – Start the property promotion at the right time of year or month. Seasonal holidays and business cycles all put pressures into property promotion. You want the right people to see the advertised property so start the campaign at the right time of month and on the right days of the week. The campaign can be ‘rolled out’ in a staged way using ‘early release’ information, and then primary promotion coverage.
Use the right media channels – When you really understand your target market you can choose the best media channels to tap into your segments of buyers or tenants as the case may be.
Personal involvement – Put yourself into the staging of the property promotion. Tell the client what you will do personally to get the message about the property to the right people. Most top agents win more property listings because of the promise and strategy they offer in personal involvement. In exchange for that personal involvement you should insist on exclusivity with your listings for a reasonable period of time.
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 it comes to leasing commercial property today make sure that you understand the current market conditions, and that you convey those market conditions to your local clients, landlords, and the tenants that you serve. Our industry is not an experiment; it is a very specific process and it is established on set investment, marketing and negotiation principles.
Help the Client Understand the Facts About Leasing
Any misunderstandings or missing information when working with tenants and landlords from a leasing perspective should be realigned to current day market conditions with clear market evidence and relevant supporting material.
Your job is to have that ‘comparable’ material available and handy solve any negotiation, listing, or leasing challenge. Condition the people that you work with in the correct and the most professional way; use market evidence.
Your Message on Leasing?
The concept here is that you are the best person to ‘recondition’ your property market and the people that you work with; you understand the realities of the property market far better than they do. Help your clients and prospects realize that the real market conditions are here to stay and brief them on those conditions. Explain the prevailing market conditions comprehensively.
Gather the facts and then help the landlords and tenants that you work understand the prevailing market conditions across:
Rental activity – track and measure the levels of rental activity across all recent leasing transactions. Compare the differences between net and gross rentals in each case. Understand how they relate to the location and the property type. Provide the rental details to those that do not fully understand what is happening locally with property segments.
Market rentals – real market rentals are determined as a result of negotiation between willing and committed tenants and landlords. Some of those rentals will be impacted by local vacancy factors, the available competing properties, and the asking rentals applicable to each property and landlord.
Competing listings – where appropriate take your clients to see competing properties in the location. The visual approach will help them understand the influencing factors that impact levels of enquiry and offers.
Property improvements – with older properties there will be issues with the standards of property improvements. Do assessment of improvements, services, and amenities when it comes to every leasing vacancy.
Industry enquiry – understand where the levels of enquiry coming from today when it applies to particular locations and property types. If you are marketing effectively in an ongoing way then the enquiries coming to you should show trends and opportunities. Every inbound call generated by a quality listing should help you understand what tenants are looking for today. You can chart those requirements and provide recommendations to the landlords that you work with.
Methods of marketing – certain methods of marketing in commercial real estate will be more successful than others. A lot depends on the target market that you are chasing however choose the right marketing solutions to suit the situation, the current market conditions, and the target audience. The Marketing Solutions that you adopt will be somewhat subject to the amount of available funds and the prevailing market conditions. +
Inspection processes – some properties require specific inspection strategies allowing for the improvements, the property layout, the strengths and weaknesses of the listing itself, and the landlord. As part of every exclusive property listing process, establish the inspection processes that will feature the property correctly and directly at all times. In a complex property, establish the track or route that you will take across floors and through common areas.
So, all of this is informational and helpful when you are working with property investors, business owners, landlords and tenants today. Are you prepared to provide and explain all the elements of the property market to those people? Have you got all of the information to help ‘close’ on a leasing transaction?
Recondition the clients thinking and perceptions in leasing properties and premises locally. You are the specialist to do that.
Lots of people work in a commercial real estate agency and brokerage. Only a small number are really good at the process and can be considered ‘entrepreneurial’. We call them ‘Top Agents’. They work really hard and do the right things every day.
Can anyone rise to the top of the industry and dominate the market as a ‘Top Agent’? The answer is always ‘yes’; in saying that, they need to be very skilled and have an open mind to learning and improving as a professional in the industry.
Over the years you will see so many different situations that you will need to adjust to or handle. When you make those adjustments, the opportunities open up for you as an agent or broker in listings and clients. Seek to improve your processes and systems so you are comprehensively covering your territory and property specialisation.
So what can you ‘tap into’ in the local property market today? Try some of these:
Property investors looking to grow their portfolio with quality stock
Tenants looking to relocate into a better property
Landlords with vacant premises that are dragging down their rental income and cash flow
Corporate tenants that are looking for expansion or growth solutions for the business
Clients that you have previously serviced that may want more help or could be changing focus
Solicitors or Accountants with property clients that need to make some property changes
Property investors that require property management services to help them get though leasing and income pressures
So can you help with any or all of these? Of course you can; it is simply a matter of marketing yourself accordingly. Comprehensively and persistently promote yourself into the local area and those people in the list above.
The cycle of commercial real estate is long and may take months if not years for some clients to get to the next point of action. If you stay in regular contact with the right people in the right way, the leads and the listing opportunities will come your way. The message here is clear; work hard and the business will come.
It is interesting to note that many agents and brokers that are new to the industry will usually take on any listing just to get some stock. Whilst that may be appropriate at the early stages of a career, they should start to focus on exclusive listings and quality properties.
In commercial real estate agency today, the process of self-improvement is really important to the traction that you need as an agent. Virtually no one will start off in the industry with all the skills and knowledge required. This then says that ongoing improvement will be required.
It is of note that some agents are better at some things than others when they first start their career. The agents that are generally good at prospecting will usually climb up the ladder of the market relatively soon in comparison to other agents.
This then says that prospecting is really important to help you proceed as an agent and build market share. Unfortunately, prospecting is really difficult for many agents to master and focus on. Regrettably this then becomes a struggle for them and can be the major hurdle that holds them back from improving listings and commissions. If you are struggling in the market today, take a serious look at your prospecting efforts and systems. Address the shortcomings, and improve your processes.
Here are some other ideas to help you with a self-improvement system in commercial real estate agency.
Many of the clients and prospects that we deal with are very experienced when it comes to property types and the local property market. You will need to be equal to if not better than these people to show some relevance as an agent in conversation and with your presentations. Build your market knowledge at every opportunity. Track the trends of the market when it comes to prices and rentals. Understand what’s happening when it comes to comparable properties. Be prepared to tell stories of importance to the clients that you serve.
Watch your competing agents closely. Some of them will be high performers when it comes to listings and commissions. Watch what they do and how they do it. Good business practices can be replicated. Success leaves clues.
Work with a coach or business colleague that understands the industry. They can help when it comes to problem solving and market experience. They can give you those extra ideas to change your approach or your business habits. If you are struggling in the industry at the moment, it is important that you change your habits to improve your results. Habits are the only way to progress with better listings and clients. A coach can help you improve your habits.
Set some goals and targets relative to listings, income, prospecting, and marketing. Within each category you can look at sub categories as targets. For example you could look at the topic of listings and define the differences between exclusively listed properties and open listings. You could also look at the topic of marketing and split it into online, offline, and direct marketing. Certain things will be more effective when it comes to marketing each property type. Understand the differences and repeat the things that work.
A successful agent will progress in the industry based on personal effort and self-improvement. Some of these items will help you do just that. Be open to seeing what is working for others in the industry, and repeat the things that can work for you.
In commercial real estate agency, your time is highly valuable. The best agents manage their time efficiently to the tasks that are most important. It is a known fact that a controlled salesperson achieves more in income and listings. They stick to a system and they get the right things done.
It is a fact that things will happen every day that you cannot plan for. Clients, prospects, and fellow staff members will direct issues at you that need to be responded to. To remain efficient through this pressure, it is wise to control at least 1/3 rd. of your day. In that 1/3 rd. of the day you can do the right things that you know will help you build market share and your commissions.
Here are some tips to develop a time management system in your commercial real estate processes.
You must control your time. That has to be the rule. Your diary is something that is ‘sacred territory’ and only you put things into your diary. In this way you can choose what you do and how you do it.
I go back to the point that part of the day is to be fully under your control. In this time frame you should do the things that really matter to your business and your goals for the year. Prospecting is usually the thing that applies and should be actioned in this window of time.
Map out your activities for the week ahead. Sure, changes will occur, but put the big and important issues into your diary and keep them there for action.
When you arise each morning, spend 5 minutes reviewing what has to be done and checking the priorities of things.
Build some break time into your schedule so you can think and plan. You will also need some administrative time later in the day to capture the events of the day.
Move the unimportant things out of your day to times that are less critical.
Learn to delegate the things that can be done by others.
Control the things that relate to business generation, clients, marketing, and negotiation. All of these things will impact your business and cannot be overlooked or passed to others.
Create habits when it comes to the most important things in the business day. Do them to a schedule at the same time. Habits help you move ahead and get traction on the things that matter.
Don’t let other people have access to your diary where they can add appointments to your day. Only you should set appointments as you are the one that understands your focus.
If you want to be a top agent in commercial real estate, protect your time and do the right things as part of your working day. Take control.
There are plenty of problems out there in the commercial real estate industry for us to solve. The landlords and property investors are challenged with vacancy factors, redundant properties, and high operating costs to name just a few. We thereby become the solution provider in the local area. Here are some tips from our Newsletter.
It is not a seller’s market, it is not a buyer’s market, but it is an agent’s market. We have the opportunity to reap the benefits of change; that is change in property ownership, occupancy, and eventually some new developments. The longer you stay around the industry you will know that the business is always out there, we just need to help the right people at the right time. Your database is critical to the process.
The property market is going through some reasonable change at the moment, and in many cases it is starting to consolidate and improve. There is a cycle to things, and right now the cycle has opportunity.
The moment businesses start to see better sales and improved client numbers, the flow through to commercial real estate is quite fast. The changes in tenant mix and property ownership start to occur.
So what problems can you help with?
What value do you bring to the clients and prospects currently?
Here is a list to think about; see where you can qualify as a ‘problem solver’ for your clients.
The tenants in the property are struggling to pay the rent.
The vacancy factor is too high.
Occupancy costs are higher than necessary.
New tenants are needed.
Renovation and refurbishment should occur to maintain tenant interest in remaining in the property.
Leasing strategies are non-existent or unsuccessful.
The tenant mix is wrong and needs adjustment to improve tenant sales.
The shopping centre needs a boost in customer numbers.
There is no business plan for the property.
Competing properties are taking all the tenants.
The property needs to be sold and enquiry is low.
The new property development is planned but tenants are hard to find.
These are all specialised processes. They require good agents with experience to move the property issues forward. You can provide specialist services and market yourself through them. Every problem that a client has is an opportunity.
A tenant retention plan is a good way to help current property owners with the tenant mix and the vacancy factors. You should charge a fee for the plan and get a fee from all of the leasing activity that you create.
Think outside the square and decide what services you can provide that the property market requires. To be a top agent you need to solve problems and specialise.
When you work as an agent or salesperson or agent in commercial real estate, sales letters should be part of all your marketing campaigns. Those campaigns can be for you personally, your office, or your listings. Whatever the reason for the letter, they have a place and a use.
You can convert good enquiries and listing opportunities from these letters providing you follow them up. Not many agents do the necessary follow-up; interesting isn’t it? So many agents will send out several hundred sales letters for a marketing campaign of one type or another, and then make very few follow-up calls.
Ratios Prove it!
Here are some ratios for you. A direct sale letter with no follow-up will have a conversion of about 1% or 2%. When you follow-up the sales letter with a direct telephone call to the key person, the conversions lift up to somewhere between 5% and 10%. I know that skill and dialogue will have some impact on the result by I assume that most people know the importance of professional dialogue in making calls.
So let’s set some clear rules for the typical sales letter:
Keep the letter simple. Rarely will you need to go over one page, and it is preferable that you do not. Everything that you want to say should be on the single piece of paper in 3 or 4 paragraphs of text
Personally sign each letter legibly in blue ink. The person then knows that you are sending an original letter.
Your signature should be readable and better than a ‘scrawl’ at high speed. You are sending a marketing letter, and your name is part of the marketing message. It is preferable to write and sign your full name.
If you must go over 1 page in your letter length, ensure that the first page ends mid-sentence and therefore encourages a person to turn over the page.
Personalise the letter and make sure you have the names correct in all respects. Errors made in addressing a letter to a person will see it hit the rubbish bin faster than you can imagine.
Typo’s and mistakes are unforgiveable in a sales letter. They show a lack of attention to detail in the correspondence. Get your sales letters proof read before they go out.
Enclose a business card in all your sales letters. Generally speaking, a loose business card is likely to be kept after everything else hits the rubbish bin.
Encourage telephone and email response to your sales letter. Make it easy for people to find you.
Use dot points and sub headings in the letter. This will make the readability much higher. Most adult readers only skim marketing material and will read it only if it has some interest. That interest comes from the dot points and the sub headings.
Use a plain blue envelope that is personally addressed in neat handwriting.
Use a good headline for your letter that is relevant to your message. Some words sell better than others; some words attract attention better than others. Get a good book on ‘words that sell’ and use the words with skill in all your marketing material.
These concepts for a sales letter can be the main part of your commercial real estate marketing effort as long as you follow through on every message. Get to know your market and the people through constant contact and relevant messages. Use the sales letter strategically and regularly.
In many segments of the real estate industry today, some would say that the rate of enquiry is slow and the listings take a long time to convert to a closed deal, albeit a sale or lease. The Buyers, Sellers, and Tenants that we work with have a slower cycle to making decisions and taking actions. Here are some tips from our Newsletter.
Whilst the property market does have slowness about it, there are some other issues to consider when you look at the bigger picture. How you see the bigger picture will impact your career as a real estate salesperson.
In this property market there are two significant problems in this ‘bigger picture’. Consider this:
Today we have the massive impact of global information in ‘real time’. Any problem on the other side of the world in another country is quickly communicated to our workplace, our desk, and our life. The internet has changed the way information is sent and interpreted. Even just 15 years ago the pressure of information was not the same. Today we have personal mobile phones and computers that tell us whatever we want and whenever we want it. Information is thrust at us like it or not in so many ways, and we have little choice in what we hear and see. The problems in global business on the other side of the world all of a sudden have some impact on the way we do business locally, spend money, and live our lives.
The free media believes that they have a ‘right’ and an ‘obligation’ to tell us every bit of gossip and rumour from around the world for the sake of ‘transparency’ and ‘honesty’. All of a sudden we get information overload with things that are not local, not fully checked or proven, and that are perhaps even what I would call ‘manipulated information’. It should always be remembered that the media (in the main) is doing what it does for one reason and that is to attract listeners and readership; the ultimate object behind that fact is then to attract and sell advertising.
Whilst all of this may be a healthy concept in a broader capitalist economy, too much of it can be counterproductive. From a sales perspective, we really do have to contain and control how much of this ‘distracting stuff’ that we see or hear, and that pervades the local work place and business environment.
It is very easy for this entire information overload to impact the way you think and the way you act. As a sales person in real estate, this can have a major collision on your thinking, your life and your commissions.
It is time to take control of your real estate business and your market. Make your own ‘news’, and don’t let the market impose itself on your business focus and systems. A great salesperson will set their business system in place and drive it forward regardless of the ‘gossip’ of the market and the media. Top agents always get to the top of any property market through personal system and deliberate action. Top agents establish ‘filters’ so they can maintain the best focus on what they do without being shaped by an overzealous and distracting media.