As you work through your career as a broker or an agent, take the time to understand where you are positioned professionally and competitively in your town or region taking into account the levels of broker and agent competition. (NB – you can get our free commercial real estate broker course right here)
In the property market today, it is best if you take the time and make the effort to stand out as an industry professional.
Top agents of the market understand exactly where they are professionally in today’s market terms; by professionally I mean listings, market share, commissions, and client service. They also understand exactly what they are going to do to improve their market position over time.
Here are some ideas to help you establish some performance indicators and professional targets for commercial real estate clients, as a broker or an agent. You can very likely add to the list based on your property specialty and location:
Signboards – do a signboard count on a monthly basis so that you can understand and relate to the numbers of signs that you have in the market by comparison to the other agents and competitors around you. Local area presence and signboard activity will always help you attract more inquiries and activities from your exclusive listings. Your signboards are a marketing process to refine and optimize.
Listings by type – compare the numbers of listings that you have in your territory by way of open versus exclusivity. Your exclusive listings are the only ones that really matter when it comes to market share. At least 75% of your property presentations should convert to exclusivity. Open listings are generally a waste of time although the strategy can be a last resort if necessary with a difficult client or a unique property.
Database – review your database on a monthly basis so that you can understand the levels of improvement and the growth of activity with meetings, calls, conversions, and inquiries. You cannot easily delegate the data base process to others within your business. Ultimately the database supports your commercial real estate activities into the future and that client list will be a critical component of your growth of market share. If you are struggling with commissions, listings, or clients, then it is very likely that your database is lacking in some respect. Take the time to understand that client list now and your prospecting activities to grow the database.
Internet – on a weekly basis, review the new listings coming onto the market across all the Internet portals. Compare your online listing numbers to those of your competitors. Understand the positioning and the ranking of your listings within your targeted suburbs and locations. To boost your business, you will really need to take the time to bolster your online profile and the exclusive listings that you have placed on the portals. There are various strategies that you can use online such as search engine optimization, social media, and article marketing. They are all very effective when it comes to establishing and growing a personal marketing profile for any broker or agent.
Commissions – look at your commissions and conversions as they exist today in both sales and leasing activity. Break the commissions down to a transaction level so that you can see the size and the types of property that you are working on per transaction. This simple strategy will allow you to assess preferred listing types and listing sizes. Focus on the listings that the market requires and where the enquiry may be centred at the moment.
A successful career in commercial real estate brokerage will usually be centred on predictable trends and activities.
There are many different pressures influencing your business day when it comes to client contact, meetings, and negotiations. Somewhere between all of those three key activities you will need to be doing some marketing and some prospecting.
So you simply cannot waste your time in any way or form as it is the most valuable resource that you have. Your activities generate leads and commissions over time; there is a special equation to monitor here about how new business can grow through your personal effort.
When you put the right effort in, you get some real momentum with tenants, landlords, sellers, and buyers. They are all out there in the local property market, thinking about how they can do things and solve property problems.
The Right Priorities and Facts
Here are some specific ideas to help you keep your business day under control as best possible. See how you can work with these ideas:
Control your diary electronically across a number of cloud-based platforms. You should be able to access your diary on your mobile telephone, your computer, and your tablet. Make sure that everything synchronizes between your electronic devices.
Don’t let any other person in the office make appointments for you whilst you are out on other appointments or business activities. Your time management priorities will not be the same as other people when it comes to meetings, negotiations, and client contact.
Start the day in prospecting mode for at least three hours. It is a specific business discipline that will help you connect with new business opportunities in the local area. Use the first three hours of every working day talking to new people through door-knocking, cold calling, and direct meetings or marketing.
It takes about 3 to 6 months to drive reasonable level of business activity and market share. Every day during that period you will need to talk to new people and create new levels of professional service. Eventually the new business opportunities will be generated from your deliberate and direct efforts of prospecting. When the new business starts to come in, continue prospecting as part of a professional time management business model. You simply cannot stop prospecting for new business.
When you have a negotiation to complete or a deal to negotiate, that may take specific priority at the start of the day. That should be the only reason for you to divert your prospecting activities to another time later in the day. I go back to the point that you should not overlook the requirement to prospect for new business on a daily basis.
Look for the reciprocal value in the things that you do each day with marketing, clients, inspections, and transactions. There will be opportunities for referral and lead generation through many of the relationships that you will already have. Ask the right questions at the right time.
The business owners and the prospects or clients that you work with will have pressures and relationships that can open new transaction opportunities for you. Remember to ask the right questions at the right time.
In commercial real estate brokerage, it is wise to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business and its position relative to the competition in the local area. In simple terms you have to stand out in some way or form as a top agent working in a brokerage of choice.
How can you improve your real estate business if you don’t know its position in the local area? Your real estate ‘strengths’ have to be there as a support in your marketing and client contact processes.
Consider these questions:
Who are your competitors in the town or city that you cover?
Where are they located when compared to your broker location?
How do you compare from a real estate services and coverage perspective?
Why should someone do business with you now or in the future?
What is your core business type when you look at listings and location?
Why would someone come back to you and give you more real estate business?
You can see that these questions drive some very specific answers. They make you consider where you are today and what you have been doing as a broker or agent locally.
Let’s face the facts here, there is no point in being ‘ordinary’ in our industry; there are just too many other competing brokers and agents around. If you want to be ‘good’ in the eyes of the client or the customers out there, then some real ‘positioning’ is required.
Here are some ideas to help with this process:
SERVICES: Given the property services that you can provide, what are the most professional from a client perspective? Consider specialised services that take the real estate business to a new level such as tenant mix strategies, resolving vacancy problems, improving property values over time, or resolving lease weaknesses in an asset. Take your services and shape them into the ‘value statement’ that applies to the clients that you serve.
PEOPLE: Some of the people in your real estate team will have real skills that can be applied at a higher level to the properties locally. Consider your mixing and matching of property services across sales, leasing, and property management. Use the fuller skills of the team.
GEOGRAPHICAL AND PROPERTY FOCUS: You cannot be the ‘expert’ across all property groups locally; it’s just too hard to know everything at a reasonable level. To really drive some new business opportunities, select the property types and the locations that will give you a solid feed of new listings and clients over time.
Make the right ‘positioning’ choices and drive some personal marketing accordingly. Don’t be ordinary in what you do and say in client contact and direct marketing. Show the real estate world in your town or city that you are the right person that is needed to drive through the client’s property challenge in a timely and direct way.
The income for a commercial Investment property will have a direct impact on the potential price that sale. On that basis the income needs to be fully understood and investigated as part of the preparation for listing.
Any agent or broker listing an Investment property should take the time to review everything that could have an impact on current and future property income. Look for the strengths and weaknesses that apply to the property income stream and the cash flow for the asset.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The buyers for any Investment property will always undertake a due diligence on the listing and the location; weaknesses will be found so make sure you understand where those weaknesses are and how to address them. They will be looking for things that will have an impact on property performance over time. Some problems in cash flow will have a direct influence on a negotiation for property purchase.
Here are some ideas to help you review income performance for the assets that you might take to the market for sale as an investment:
The gross income for the asset in today’s terms will always be the starting point of an income assessment. Look at the actual volume of rental created from the existing leases and the tenants in occupancy. Understand the elements of cash flow that make up the income stream. Those elements will usually include rental, rental by type, outgoings, special licensed areas in the property, casual rentals, and permanent tenants.
Look at the cash flow per month over a period of time. Understand the gross rental achieved each month over the last 12 months. There will be patterns to the income stream driven by the tenants in occupancy. If there are vacancy factors in the property to deal with, then that will have a reflection in the collective rental. Review the number of vacancies and the negative impact that those vacancies have on the cash flow for the asset.
Understand the vacancy threat that maybe upcoming in the property tenancy mix. Some tenants will be leaving or relocating within the property, and on that basis you should develop a full understanding of how those vacancies will be handled. Some vacancies will be harder to lease than others.
Property expenditure on a monthly basis will reduce the gross income to a net income. The age of the asset will have an impact on property expenditure and maintenance. Compare the expenditure in the property to other similar properties in the same location. Look at the averages, and in that way understand how your asset compares.
Some of the rentals in the property would have been determined on a market rental basis. Compare that market rental to other properties of similar type in the same location. Is your property correctly rented, or under rented?
From the examples provided you can see that there are many different elements of income to look into and review. Some of those income factors can be improved over time, and that’s where the skills of a leasing and or property management specialist are quite valuable.
As an agent or broker, develop a comprehensive investigation process applying to the analysis of the income stream in any investment performance. An income checklist will be very useful as part of that process.
Commissions get easier in commercial real estate when you understand that one single listing or one deal can easily be used as the foundation for other things and particularly opportunities. That’s when you can refine your actions and focus.
Take your single client, listing, or transaction and open up the opportunities that exist around you.
Need some more real estate business?
Here are the facts and some valuable ideas:
A good listing in any location can be the basis of making lots of calls to property owners in your town or city. Talk about your listings with the local people.
A signboard that you place on a property will be the foundation of connecting with nearby business owners and property owners. A signboard is a great business tool and will give you conversational leverage locally.
A quality property listing will (or should) be the origin of a door knocking program in your business precincts or territory. Get into your local area and talk to people about your listing stock.
Every time you get a call from an advertisement, ask the person calling you about what they have seen locally. They may have looked at other properties and therefore be an active buyer or tenant.
When you hold a property inspection, get the fuller perspective from the inspecting party about where they are now, what they are doing, where they want to be with their property needs, and when they have to do something. Ask good questions and make lots of notes.
List exclusively so that you can control your listing stock. Some agents just take on open listings for the sake of having a property on their books. Whilst I can understand the basic idea, open listings give you little leverage and ability to grow your market share. Exclusivity is the only thing with listing that will help you build your real estate business.
Know the market locally. Your comprehensive awareness of the listings, deals, negotiations, and time on market will help you through any client conversation and listing process. Be prepared to quote the facts.
Build on your successes and tell the ‘world’. When you have done a deal, get the message out to your location, your database, and your clients. Let people know that you are the person that has created a result. Encourage them to talk to you and discuss what happened.
Look for referrals in each contact and relationship. Use the power of referral business to grow your database with ‘warm contacts’. It is very easy to open a new opportunity from the basis of a referral.
This list is just the start of the process, and particularly so when you look at all the opportunities that are around you.
Every conversation, every lead, and client relationship can be expanded into something else. Ask and you shall receive.
If you haven’t worked it out yet, online marketing is taking over commercial real estate advertising and property promotion. Every year there are new things to do and learn as part of property promotion in both sales and leasing. It is regrettable that many agents and brokers just do the ‘ordinary stuff’ in commercial real estate marketing. They don’t ‘step out of the box’ when it comes to property promotion.
If you want to rise to the top of your local property market, you will have to get your property marketing under control and drive it comprehensively online. Only you can do that. A system of marketing is required. Have you got one now?
Here is a challenge for you. Factor up your online marketing and drive a solid marketing strategy online with all your exclusive listings (open listings really don’t deserve the extra effort). Penetrate your online marketing activities across your location and property specialty. Here are some specifics to help you with that:
Frequency – The search engines love ‘frequency’ and that means doing something every day online. The thing or things that you do must be tuned to specific keywords relevant to your location and your property type. Put your name behind and into everything that you do online. You are part of the promotion, so remember that key element and make it work for you.
Blog – Every agent and broker should have a property blog that they professionally write and service. Each day that agent should be posting something about their location or property activity. Make it interesting and put some good facts into your blogging activity; talk about your town or city, and how property facts are changing and shaping. You have plenty to talk about when you really think about things.
Branding – Your branding online may be something to do with your brokerage, but you should also be promoting yourself online. People do business with those agents that they remember and trust. Your branding and personal marketing has to position you in that way. It’s a personal thing.
Images – Always use good quality images to pull in the eye and interest of the reader. Take plenty of photographs locally and keep them for placement in your blog and or articles online. A good image will help your brokerage brand. First class marketing solutions always include excellent quality images.
Advertising Copy – You can get quite good at writing advertising copy and property editorials. There are some good books available that provide marketing ideas to attract readers, words that sell, and phrases that sell. Get away from the ‘ordinary stuff’ in your property advertising online. Use words and phrases that pull in the reader’s interest.
Headline – A good headline is 50% of the equation in pulling in the reader to any property article or advertisement. Look at how newspapers and magazines use headlines in this way. You can get plenty of ideas from those sources to help you with headlines.
Keywords – You are a broker or agent working in a location and with a property type(s). From those 2 factors you can use specific keywords in all of your marketing and articles online. Search engines look for keywords when matching property inquiry to search results.
Social media – I have deliberately put social media last on the list. That is because you should not start your social media activities in commercial real estate unless you have all the other issues underway and under control. You can link all of your social media efforts back to your articles, blogs, listings, and noteworthy helpful hints.
From these ideas you can now see how you can and should build your online marketing presence as a commercial real estate agent or broker. When you do that comprehensively you can penetrate your property market online and put your personal brand forward as the ‘agent of choice’ for the location. This is not a random process; it is very specific.
In commercial real estate brokerage, things change frequently throughout the year. The only object or fact that you can control is your response to the property market and its changes. There is always opportunity in change, but you have to dig for it. Local property market awareness will help your responses.
What do you do?
It doesn’t matter whether you are specializing in sales, leasing or property management, the location changes and the market sentiment will be there for you to work with and turn into commissions and or leads. It is a valuable process to monitor your activities each day and direct them into particular strategies that you can shape and refine.
How do you rank with these?
Here are some specific ideas that can really help drive better results for agents and brokers. See how you rank with these ‘change factors’:
What you say – Given that we are communicating with people every day, what you say and how you say it will be a great leverage factor in business conversions. Learn about the conversational factors in telephone prospecting, negotiating, pitching and presenting. Notably all of those situations are quite special in our industry. Develop the voice and the right words that support conversational confidence with people.
Property market awareness – Check out the local listings and the trends in enquiry, prices, and marketing strategies. Understand just what formula is creating the best enquiry and momentum towards a successful sale or lease situation. Watch the top agents in your location so you can see the strategies and differences that are potentially giving them the edge in listing conversion.
Recent enquiry – Clients like to hear about recent levels of property enquiry. If you are tracking the enquiry numbers for your exclusive campaigns, you will have some valuable information that can influence the listing processes with your clients. Also assess the numbers of people that you are talking to every day. Lift your contact numbers on a daily basis; set some contact benchmarks that you can improve given the available time.
Marketing solutions – There are many ways to market a property today. How can you make your promotional processes more specific and relevant? What can you do to leverage more enquiries from the advertising that you have both online and offline? There are many ways to creatively and professionally improve property marketing. Try better photographs, creative promotional copy professionally created, layouts, keywords related to your area and property type, and place the property in a matrix of online portals, social media, and database newsletters.
From these four simple factors you can see why personal performance is a big thing in commercial real estate brokerage today.
Most of the property market ‘slumps’ are a reflection on personal agent or broker performance rather than true market conditions. Are you up to the challenge?
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.
Its the middle of the year and lots of commercial real estate brokerage going on. In this commercial real estate podcast I have decided to cover three specific issues to help real estate brokers and agents as they strive to improve market share. Most particularly the topics are:
Some of the common problems today with commercial real estate websites and how to deal with that
How to build the systems and strategies surrounding effective territory planning and new business farming in commercial real estate brokerage
The facts and issues surrounding the use of marketing cards as part of a commercial real estate brokerage prospecting model
This audio program is provided in MP 3 format for ease of download and ongoing access. You can share the file around your real estate brokerage as well as access the file across a number of different electronic platforms including smart phone, computer, and audio sound system. You can also listen to the recordings as you drive to work or work out in the gym.
We have loaded some more charts and templates to our e-course this week. You can get our Commercial Brokerage E-Course right here.
Like it or not, the database process in commercial real estate brokerage has to exist at a personal broker level, and it has to be up to date. Old and redundant information in any database will bring with it problems and time wasting conversations.
Every broker should be very focused on their data growth, content entry and accuracy. The process can’t and shouldn’t be delegated.
So It’s Logical!
So this sounds very logical and yet why is it such a problem? Some brokers struggle with the processes of list management. These are the most common issues in commercial real estate database creation and growth today:
Choice of the wrong record keeping process – Many agents and brokers still keep information on basic spreadsheets. They do so in an effort to contain costs and or for the purposes of simplicity. The fact of the matter is that a spreadsheet with a lot of contacts will leave itself wide open to data loss and or errors.
Doing the work of data entry – It takes time to load data into a software program. Many brokers either do not have the time or do not want to enter data; they try to delegate the process. Unfortunately the person delegated the work of list management has little involvement or commitment to the end result. The message here is that the work has to be done personally by the broker, and the best time to do so is after hours at the end of the day. Keep a standard form process underway so you can write things down during the day that could be required as a new entry in your lists.
Set targets for growth – Determine where your client and customer numbers are now. Set some simple growth targets of perhaps 5 new people per day. Over time you will lose some current contacts as they will have moved on, so a growth strategy is important.
Making categories work for you – Categories will be required to help you find the right people to talk to. Split your list up into zones, budgets, property requirements, VIP’s, owners, tenants, and business owners. Your selected software for recording the data should allow you to cross reference categories to find people and situations.
Regularly making contact – When a person is captured into your list, they should be entered for one reason only, and that is because they have a property interest now or in the future. From that point onwards regular meaningful contact is required with clients. Talking to them or connecting with them at least once every 90 days will help with list momentum and new business conversion.
If you are looking for new business in commercial real estate today, the answer is in your list. Refine your database activities and drive relevant contacts and conversations through it. Over time the listings will emerge as will the commissions.