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?