In this audio program, John Highman talks about the different ways of prospecting and how commissions can be improved when you get your new business focus refined and tuned to particular properties and clients.
Learn about the challenges and the opportunities with:
Clients as Investors, Business Owners, and Developers
In simple terms you can improve your real estate business.
A sales team in commercial real estate brokerage is typically (or should be) a group of like minded sales professionals in control of their market, their clients, the territory and their special property types. When you look into the team there are special indicators to watch and track as the team gets results in listings, clients, commissions, and referrals.
Commercial property today is as competitive as ever; top sales teams should be working to a plan and strategy for their location. The real estate ‘year’ is most commonly between February and November each year. Most of the sales and leasing transactions will be done in just those 10 months.
In this audio program, John Highman talks about the importance of tracking and monitoring the performance of the sales team.
In commercial real estate brokerage, you must know where your new business is derived from and where the best commissions are likely to come from into the future. Some new property business can be much more lucrative for you over time. Understand what that new business looks like and how you can find it. Focus into the segment that works for you.
Your opportunities will come from your local property market. The way to find that business is to specialize and improve your services accordingly. Top agents are very good at just one or two things, and then they drive themselves into that or those segment(s).
Where then are you likely to find the best business in both listings and commissions into the future? When you know your skills and knowledge, you can do something with growth and market share. You can also practice and improve your skills on the things that really matter. That’s how you generate more commissions and listings in a relevant and real way.
Your special market segments?
Consider the special market segments below and how you can select the right category of business activity. Ultimately strive to grow and shape your market share as a broker or agent over time. Plan your way forward:
Sellers agent – If you are a seller’s agent (or want to be) then you must know how to pitch and present your listing services competitively and directly to the people that matter. This is the ‘pointy end’ of our craft; pitching and presenting is something that will always vary based on the property and the client. Ultimately you will need a good database of clients to focus on so you are there to help them at the right time when they need a property solution.
Leasing agent – Three are always businesses looking to relocate locally. Spend some time looking into the business community and what they want from a property and improvement perspective.
Property management specialist – The management services to be offered today to the owners of any quality investment property can be quite unique and comprehensive. Your fee structures should be as comprehensive as your services offered.
Property performance improvement – Can you improve a property and its performance? Ultimately if your fee in property management is based on a percentage of passing income, then you can improve your fees through improved property rental cash flow. When the landlord wins, you also win.
Lease negotiations – Every lease negotiated deserves a reasonable fee. The value of a lease into the future is sustained as long as the lease is structured with due care.
And so the list goes on. Can you see the opportunity here? Specialization works in commercial real estate brokerage.
Look at your location, your client segments, the levels of professional services offered by your competition, and then understand exactly how you will pull in your commission and what your professional services provide your clients. You will never have a big problem in setting your professional fees if you and your services are regarded as the best available for the client and their property challenge.
Here are some other valuable service alternatives for you to open up into as a real estate agent for your location:
Tenancy mix strategies
Your ability to earn money as commission and to convert listings will be based largely on your skills and knowledge. Practice what you do and learn as much as you can. That is what our business is all about.
In a commercial real estate team, you cannot have negativity in any way or form. Individual agents performing poorly can easily influence the activities of others simply through sharing their negativity in the office and during sales meetings.
If this is a problem for you, the particular team member will need to be personally managed and redirected to solve their listings slump or commission problem. If the problem cannot be solved quickly, the person should be removed from the team.
It is a fact that most under-performing agents in any property market will have created the problem for themselves through lack of planning, a lack of action and poor focus. Training and skill development can help redirect those agents back to the important tasks and industry standards to build the business. That being said, any agent or broker with a negative attitude needs to be willing to learn and improve under the pressures of poor performance. That is where the leadership skills of the sales manager or team leader become very relevant.
Here are some good ways to control and remove negativity within the real estate agency team:
Whilst the property market will have variations of enquiry and seasonal change, there will be listings to attract, properties to market, and deals to negotiate. The attitude of the team and the actions of individual people within the team should be encouraged and promoted to a high level. You can do that through regular role playing, team meetings, and industry updates. Every sales meeting should be a positive event encouraging feedback from every team members and discussing market opportunity; high performing team members can be encouraged to share their experiences with others. The story of success goes a long way towards building ideas and momentum across the team.
Agents and brokers that are struggling with any part of their business may need to work with high performing agents for a period of time to experience and see the successful ways of working in the industry. Whilst every top agent or broker will do things differently, it is the advantage of a personal system that takes them forward; their system takes them into the opportunities of the property market in sales, leasing, and property management.
Every broker or agent should have a specific business plan relating to personal performance, territory management, prospecting, and new business focus. The plan should set the momentum for the financial year and be tracked on a monthly basis. It is unfortunately common to see agents create their plan for the year and then forget about the document and its application from that point onwards. Top performing agents structure a plan based on their skills, the property market, the location, and the identified opportunities of the property segment. In the case of top agents, that plan will be formulated prior to the beginning of the financial year and will be pursued vigorously each week and each month through the year. Adjustments will be made by the agent when necessary to ensure that growth of listings and commissions occur efficiently and directly in any property market.
On a weekly basis, every agent and broker should be tracking their results when it comes to essential activities such as cold call prospecting, meetings, listings, negotiations, and commissions. The best way for them to track the results will be through a chart or graphing process. That information can then be shared with the team leader, and on that basis by compared across the team. The team leader can then see areas of poor performance in agents that are struggling with certain segments of property activity. In identifying problems early, it is easy for the team leader to provide the necessary guidance and professional training. For
So the message here is that any negativity can be removed from a commercial real estate brokerage team through direct action and close monitoring. The skills of the team leader will have a lot to do with the results achieved.
In commercial real estate from time to time, you will get a slump in sales. That will come from a variety of challenges and market changes. When that occurs, it is important that you adjust your prospecting processes and market focus.
A slump in sales is a reason to shift your personal business practices and market segments. If the sales activity is genuinely slower for a long time, then you should start to look at the alternatives of helping landlords with leasing activity in the local area. Invariably you will find that a new commission opportunity still exists, albeit in a different way.
Here are some rules that should apply to the changing market conditions and a personal slump in sales:
A slump will only continue if you fail to adjust your prospecting and business efforts. In many respects, the downturn may have been created through a lack of personal prospecting and client connection. It is easy to stop prospecting when you have plenty of business on the go. That is the most common problem we see when it comes to this type of industry downturn.
Review your activities when it comes to new business generation. Take a serious look at your database to ascertain that it is up to date and accurate in every respect. If your database is lacking in any way, it will require immediate attention and that will involve plenty of phone calls talking to those people that you have overlooked or not connected with recently.
Talk to all of the clients that you have serviced over the last five years. It is a known fact that property owners and investors work to a cycle of ownership and disposal. Many property owners will act on a property decision or transaction once every 5 to 7 years. That is why the cycle of contact is so important to the business that we generate.
Ask for referrals from the clients and the prospects that you know. This is the easiest relationship building process available to us.
Get back into your sales territory and the streets that contain the quality properties. Door-knock the local businesses to introduce yourself and question them about their current property needs and activities. Most business owners and proprietors will know a lot more about their immediate local property market than you do. They are likely to share some of that information that can lead to some good leads and other connections.
Look for any new property developments and any rezoning applications. You can get this information from the local planning office. Whilst some of these transactions take months if not years to come to fruition, you can position yourself to help those property owners impacted by the changes.
Lift your presence on the Internet through social media activity and also specific property blogging activity. Show the online world that you are a real expert when it comes to the property type and the location.
To get over a slump in sales activity, it is simply a matter of changing your focus and your business habits. Put yourself back into a prospecting mindset and reconnect with the market in every way possible.
In this property market, you really do need to have a business plan when it comes to your personal commissions and listing opportunity. You need to set some benchmarks that can take your commercial real estate agency career forward through growth and opportunity.
For many salespeople and agents the process of business planning is relatively detailed and boring. It is not unusual to find many business plans created by commercial real estate agents and then overlooked. Perhaps the process requires a different name to help the acceptance that it requires as a critical part of the agency process.
I like to call the business planning process that of ‘strategic growth’. It infers that the matter is important and that it offers opportunity for the agent and the agency. On that basis you have a real reason to establish the plan and implement its momentum. It is a very personal process and cannot be delegated to anyone else.
So what do you need to improve your market share and your income over time? Here are some points of focus for you:
A good database of quality clients
A source of future opportunity in sales and leasing activity
Dominant market share
Exceptional skills when it comes to marketing, presentations, negotiating, and inspecting
The knowledge to do the job at a high level with accuracy and relevance
To achieve these very important goals, you need to research the right information and make some key decisions. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
Understand the local property market and its activities over the last few years. Will the property market be changing over the next four or five years? That being the case, can you service that change? Will you require further information and knowledge? Will the change give you some opportunity in sales or leasing activity?
Look at the upcoming opportunities in the market and the growth potential of the business and community segments. Can you service those growth segments and in what way?
Assess the competitors that you will be working against when it comes to new listings. Are there any competitors that will present you with challenges when it comes to market share? What can you do to be different and better than those competitors?
Understand the role that technology and marketing plays in the local area when it comes to new listings. Can you bring anything new and fresh by way of technology and marketing to your listings?
Your property location and market share is likely to show some trends and have relevant indicators when it comes to average deal size and average deal type. That will then drive a commission average from every transaction. How many transactions will you need to make from your target market segment on an annual basis to achieve your income? Is there business available for you in that segment, and how would you tap into it? What can you do that is different when it comes to building your market share?
Taking all of these things into account, you really do need a business plan or a strategic plan to take your listing and commission opportunity forward. In an average calendar or financial year, you have approximately 10 months of listing and deal opportunity. The rest of the time will be absorbed in community festivities and school holidays. For this very reason, your plan is critical to your progress and success in the industry as an agent. Focus your efforts in that 10 months of time so that you can build a pipeline of solid income and client growth in commercial real estate.
When you work as an agent in commercial real estate, it pays to understand where you are going and where you have been in relation to commissions and listings. In only that way can you tap into the better ideas and changes that will help you get more market share.
The property market is always changing, both seasonally and economically. Planning for those seasons and changes will help you find the sections of the market that are really active (or potentially so).
Gone are the days of waiting for a call or a prospect to walk in the door of your office to seek your help. There are far too many agents around for that to be of any benefit to you. In this property market you must:
Prospect every day via the telephone (this is a critical habit in our industry)
Call into businesses in your area to introduce yourself and your services
Reconnect with old clients that you helped with other transactions over the years
Watch the time on market of your listings so you know when changes are required to freshen the listing
Track the other agents listings to see if you can help those property owners when the listings expire
Market every listing that you have personally into all the adjacent businesses and property investors
It should be said that you cannot advertise a property in the newspaper or internet and hope that a deal will be forthcoming. The only listings that should get the ‘random’ service approach are the ‘open’ listings in your books. Exclusive listings are to be given priority marketing. When you control your market through ‘exclusive listings’, you control your progress and market share.
The industry is all about people and how we connect with them. Rarely will you win commercial real estate business from people that have only just met you for the first time. Relationships are the key and your ratios of meetings and calls will help you understand just where those ratios are improving or could improve.
So here are the key ratios to track in your team and for yourself as a property expert:
What is the average commission that is paid per transaction? This information will help you understand the quality factors that apply to your existing listings. In many cases, salespeople just need to lift their listing quality to get more commission.
What are your conversion rates between presentations, to listings, to converted and closed transactions? These ratios will help you understand just how you can improve your outcomes. You may have a weakness in presentations, or negotiations; when you find a weakness you seek to improve it through practice.
How many prospecting calls must you make each day to get 2 new listings per week?
Are you closing and completing at least 50% of your listings? If not, then you have a problem and you should look at the client conditioning and your listing negotiation skills.
What is the average time on market for your listings and how does that compare to the other agents and listings in the area?
What is your ratio between exclusive and open listings? You should be listing in the majority exclusively.
You may be able to add to this list, and importantly you do so to keep on top of the market trends and opportunities. The top agents of the market understand just what is going on with local property and how to tap into it at any time.
They say that commercial property management is a service part of the commercial real estate industry. Certainly it is that however it is very specialised, and the knowledge required behind the job is extensive. It requires top property managers that really know what they are doing on a daily basis.
When you take on a new client or a new property management it is tempting to give a base service fee that is set on the passing income. Whilst the formula is useful, it pays to understand what the landlord owner of the property wants regards reporting and service in the management of the property. If you adopt the base fee approach, you also have issues of the fee reducing when the property vacancy level rises.
Here are some ideas about working with new commercial property management clients and setting your fees:
Whilst you may want to set a fee based on passing net income (or gross income if that is your priority), always set a base fee that will be a minimum fee if the vacancy level rises in the property. The base fee will protect you when the vacancy level rises.
Your ordinary management fee that you charge should cover the general activities that are required for financial and physical management on a daily or weekly basis. It does not have to cover the extra activities that may be considered special in the property. They can be for the unusual things such as leasing upcoming vacant space, market rent reviews, attendance at court, lease assignments, lease subletting, and annual budget or reporting activities that take a lot of time and effort, beyond what you consider the ordinary property management tasks. You have a choice here so set the right fee for the work involved. Understand exactly what the property will throw at the property manager.
Ask questions of the client before the management agreement is signed just so you know exactly what they want regards reporting and control from the property manager. Rarely will you find that two landlords are the same. Consider the time involved in giving them the reports and the feedback that they require.
Look at the complexity and the age of the property. Older properties require extensive control and management. The maintenance activities in the property may also be higher on a regular basis.
The size of the tenant mix and the complexity of the lease documentation will place pressure on the property manager from a time and knowledge perspective. More tenants in the property will lift the time requirement.
Assess the vacancy factor for the property now and in the future. Is the property manager required to market the vacancies and what fee will they get for that?
So there are some special considerations here that should be worked through. When you carefully consider the property and the time involved you will soon see the property management fee that you charge in a different perspective.