As a commercial real estate agent or broker, you can use a blog as a professional and personal marketing strategy. There are plenty of things that you can write about when it comes to your local area, your town or your city.
The blog is something that you can do individually at very low cost. It is also something that you can do in your spare time or perhaps in the evenings when the pressures of the working day are diminished.
As a special note and as part of the blog marketing process in real estate or commercial property, you should not write about particular property listings and clients. Leave that marketing strategy to the brokerage websites and the portals where you can and already do promote existing listings and particular properties.
The blog process is all about providing commentary and information or knowledge. That is why the search engines rank the process so highly when people offer valuable information and insights. As a real estate agent you can do exactly that and hence the blog strategy can help you greatly when it comes to building an online personal profile.
So what would you write about in the blog and why should you do it? Consider the territory in which you work and the specialisation or the property knowledge that you can bring to the market; if you are truly the specialised property agent or broker that you claim to be, there will be plenty of things to write about and information to share. Here are some ideas within those factors to help you get this strategy underway:
Look for the changes in the property market in prices, rents, and future supply. The changes in the property market and the analysis of history will give you plenty of things to write about. You can create simple graphs relating to growth in prices or rentals, shifts in yields, or enquiry rates relating to property types.
If you are a specialist in a particular property type you can talk about the future growth and opportunities that apply within the zones or precincts in your town or city. Property investors will always show an interest in a well-crafted article giving valuable information about recent property trends and predictable changes. As a case in point and as an example, the retail property segment and particularly that of shopping centre performance stands alone as a specialist part of the property market. Within that topic there will be plenty of things to talk about when it comes to tenancy mix, rental strategies, vacancy rates, leasing opportunities, customer requirements, franchise tenants, and shopping trends. I go back to the point that valuable information provided by industry specialists will always be of interest to the players in the property market.
Any upcoming property developments will shift the balance of supply and demand when it comes to particular property types and property occupation. From that new supply of high quality modern space, you will find that the older properties will become redundant and be potentially ripe for redevelopment. Consider the changes that apply within a property type with any new developments coming up and write about them in your blog. Talk about the changes and the investment opportunities or adjustments; look for the strengths that evolve from newer property developments shifting the balance of occupancy and property ownership.
There are plenty of things for you to write about when it comes to the blog and Internet Marketing process. In this way you can build your online presence as an agent or a broker, and show your expert comprehensive property knowledge and experience to the right people in your town or city. A good article written around the facts of the market can also be linked to your property newsletter and your client emails. When something is worth talking about in our industry, it is worth sharing.
A career in commercial real estate does not need to be complicated but it does need to be focused. Above everything else that you do in the industry, one thing will stand ‘head and shoulders’ above everything else as a success factor.
Exactly what is it that will help you convert more listings and commissions?
The answer to the question is quite simple; it is the number of people that you know at a personal level who are the relevant players in the property industry in your town or city.
That is the most important factor to incorporate in your marketing efforts and professional promotions. Get to know the right people in a comprehensive way.
If you are looking to build your career as a commercial real estate agent, or perhaps you are looking to improve your market share, take a serious look at your database and the depth of relevance you have created with every prospect and client. Those people need to know you as the best agent locally for the property type and the location.
In keeping your real estate career simple and direct, as well as successful, look at your database and the communication processes associated with it. Here are some ideas to help with that:
Over time you will find that some people or clients will fall away from the property industry and become less interested in buying, leasing, or selling. For this very reason you do need to top up your database continually with new people and fresh contacts. That is then a prospecting strategy.
You will find that many people will take months if not years to take the next step in property activity. For that reason your database should be structured around a pipeline process and a staged level of contact. Every 60 to 90 days you should be connecting with the best people within the database in a relevant and real way. That will help you build a professional profile as a top agent and industry professional.
As in any other professional sales career, your communication and negotiation skills will be critical to the outcomes you achieve. Practicing those two skills will help you improve conversions from listings, inspections, and negotiations. Develop a practicing process that you can merge into your weekly or daily diary; role plays are valuable to help with the challenges of the property market as they apply to your industry type and location. Keep practicing the challenges that you see every day and develop real responses that you can give to solving the problems your clients may have.
It is quite clear from this simple strategy that you do need to know a lot of people in your local area. Those people should be recognized prospects or clients that are acting or will act on a property investment situation now or in the future.
Take a simple and direct look at your database processes. Understand how you are finding new people and connecting with them over time. Improve your client and prospect connections at every opportunity and practice your professional communication skills to suit the challenges of today’s property market.
Most commercial real estate agents will have a database. More often than not the database they have or use will be well out of date and poorly maintained. With all of this technology around us today you would think that the life of an agent would be easier?
I have seen agent databases that are many thousands of people only to find that most of the contacts are redundant, incorrect, or outdated. My view is that it is far better to have 600 people that you do know very well, than 5000 people that would not know you from a ‘bar of soap’. Our industry is built around the strength of relationships; remember that!
So, it’s the time of year where we should talk about refreshing and revitalising your database. It’s a personal process, and you can’t delegate it to anyone else in your team. Work your contact list comprehensively so you tap into the future deals in the market. It’s that simple!
A good real estate database will help an agent do all of the following:
Provide leads and opportunities
Integrate into automated newsletter systems
Give you sources of commissions and listings
Allow you to dominate market share or property type
Track and measure all client contact
So why do agents let their databases ‘self-implode’? It’s an interesting question; I think the answer has something to do with a personal lack of focus and not enough time to update the database information.
If there was a ‘golden rule’ in commercial real estate brokerage, it would go something like this:
‘Grow and maintain your database each working day.’
It’s a simple rule to understand; keep your business simple and centre your business on local people and prospects. Talk to lots of people every day and track your contact processes in your contact database. Ongoing relevant contact is required.
Here are 7 very good ways to ‘spring clean’ your contact list:
Make 10 calls into your list every day to update contact information. By calling people you already know you will find ‘changes to circumstances’ and future property needs just waiting to be tapped into. That’s a very good reason to make calls every day!
Check emails with all of your contacts so you can put them into an auto responder for ease of regular contact (you will need their permission to do that).
Update mobile telephone numbers where possible so you can keep in direct contact when the right property listing comes up. As part of that process, load all of your contacts into your mobile telephone for convenience of access and a ‘heads up’ when they call you.
Check websites for the business people that you connect with. You will find changes in information worth talking to them about.
Segment your contacts into VIP’s, Sellers, Buyers, Tenants, Business Owners, and Developers. Ask them about their property preferences and update your records accordingly.
Ask your VIP clients and regular contacts about property requirements and timing of needs. Whilst they may not require a property change currently, they are likely to do so in the future.
Integrate your contact list to your social media, blog and your email newsletter. Keep your communications business like and frequent. You want to be ‘top of mind’ when your contacts are seeking property change or help.
It is relatively easy to ‘spring clean’ your database and keep it that way. It just requires a daily process and consistency at agent level.
In commercial real estate brokerage, the hiring of new salespeople will be a critical issue to support the flow of new listings and commissions into the business. In any 12 month period, you will lose some of your sales and your administrative staff for uncontrollable reasons. This then says that you must have a pipeline of recruitment underway.
Hiring experienced salespeople will have distinct advantages for you in the brokerage. To allow the targeted process to occur, make sure that you understand and have identified the key players in the market. Your competitors will have brokers and agents in employ that can be targeted.
Here are some of the advantages to employing experienced agents or salespeople with an industry profile and track record:
The agents and brokers that are active in the market today will have an established personal profile that can easily transfer to another brokerage. A top agent will usually have a database of contacts and prospects that will move with them.
They will have established significant trust with a number of key clients in the local area. Referral and repeat business should be achieved from that connection.
They will have significant market knowledge, profile, and confidence when it counts. They will have the correct strategies and solutions to use as part of the presentation and pitch for new business. Most top agents should convert at least 65 per cent of the listings that they pitch for.
A good agent will bring with them the advantages of greater success from working with challenging listings and difficult clients. They will know how to handle those clients and those listings that need to be repackaged, restructured, differently marketed, or personally branded.
The experienced salesperson that specializes in a property type will be very useful. That is even more so the case when your brokerage doesn’t specialize in that property type currently. The extra skills that are brought to the business will allow you to diversify and grow market share.
If you pick up a new broker for your commercial brokerage business, it is a wise move to allow them to work the territory and the property type that they have built their market share around. This may cause some difficulty with other employees that you have now in the same territory or patch.
So the logic here says that you can and should target experienced brokers and agents. Choose the right people based on professional character, results, and market share. Integrate them into your existing team so that the skill base and the database will be improved.
The leasing segment of the commercial real estate market is particularly specialized. Many agents choose only to work on leasing opportunities within their property specialty. That being said, if property leasing is your primary source of real estate income, then you need to consider the quality of property that you work on and the clients that you serve. Low quality listings can be huge amount of work for very little personal outcome or commission. Choose your listings well. Don’t let low quality listings drain your resources and time.
Vacancies in good properties will always attract enquiry. Poor quality properties and vacancies achieve lesser enquiry; that will drag down the inbound enquiry and the achieved rental rate. The net result will be lower commissions. So you need to be selective on the properties and the premises that you work with from a leasing perspective.
So the first priority here is that you should focus on the servicing of good clients and good properties in the market. Research the local area to understand exactly where these clients and properties are located. Put them at the center of your prospecting processes.
It can take time to build the necessary relationships with the appropriate and the best landlords. To make the matter a little bit easier, build an extensive database of business tenants through the region. In that way you improve your value to the landlords that you serve. Soon they will know that you have the necessary tenant contacts and leasing opportunities that they need.
Here are some essential things to do every day as part of specializing in property leasing services:
As a general priority, focus on achieving exclusive listing appointments with the landlords and the vacancies that you service. In this way you can control your market. An openly listed vacancy will give you little opportunity to grow market share, and if you achieve a leasing result it will be by luck more than process.
The first thing that you should do every day would be in telephone prospecting and cold calling. Given that you work with business type tenants, most of your prospecting can occur between 8.00 AM and 10.00 AM. Most of the businesses in your local area will be operational in that time. Your focus should be to talk to the business proprietors and to understand their leasing and occupancy needs. So the prospecting call is a questioning process a rather than a sales pitch. Seek to understand the tenant’s needs and upcoming leasing issues.
Build a significant database as a result of your prospecting activity. That database should be split into tenants of different business types and locations. The tenant database should be separate to the landlord database; it should also be a lot larger. One of the factors of attraction when it comes to pitching your services to a landlord will be that of your database size and its relevance to the property type. For this reason, ensure that your database is comprehensive, large, and totally up to date. It is difficult for a landlord to ignore an agent that has total control and awareness over tenant movement in the local property market.
Stay in contact with all of your clients and most particularly those with an exclusive listing. Keep them advised of the changes to the local property market when it comes to supply and demand for leased space. Watch out for the new property developments that could impact market rentals, lease incentives, and occupancy rates.
Check out the listings that are still on the market and those that are new to your property segment. Wherever possible, identify the resultant lease terms and conditions relating to any finalize lease deal. There will always be a difference between an asking rent and an achieved market rental.
Make sure that your current lease deals are progressing based on the terms of the lease agreement and or current negotiations. Every lease transaction should be supported by valid market rental, guarantees, accurate and legal documentation, and suitable deposits. Stay on top of your current agreements and the parties to the negotiations. Make sure that your lease negotiations are not stalling for any reason.
A leasing agent is always closely watching the activities of tenants and landlords in the local area. You can add to this list above by understanding the greater property opportunity locally and the good clients that you are targeting. Set some rules and start prospecting.
When it comes to operating a commercial property management department, you need to set some performance indicators that will help the individual managers match their services to the needs and expectations of the clients. That being said, many clients will have particular needs when it comes to property performance, tenant mix and tenant management, reporting, and income generation. This is all the more reason for the use of the manager benchmarking and indicator assessment process.
Without relevant indicators, you will fail to see any shortcomings in performance and eventually some property management clients will move to other agencies for their management needs. It is a known fact that the property management process is demanding and time consuming. Many property managers cannot handle the pressures and organizational issues that come with the job.
Time versus fees
Some properties can be particularly time intense for a variety of reasons; that being said, the fees for service should be suitably structured so that time allocations applied to the property are covered in the base management fee. Far too many agencies set their fees based on industry standards rather than services to be provided to the property.
So you need some performance indicators to track as part of the function of your property management department. Each week those performance indicators can be reviewed as part of the regular department meeting.
The primary object of the indicator process is to understand where there are any shortcomings and failures within the services provided to clients, or the overall division. Here are some typical indicators that you can merge into your review process each week:
Monitor the vacancy factors as they apply to the greater portfolio. Set yourself some benchmarks that are regarded as the limits of vacancy above which you will or should not go. Some properties will have greater problems with vacancies and on that basis they will need a specific leasing focus and more complex leasing services. Some property managers will not be managing their vacancies in accordance with the standards of the business. This assessment process will help you identify those managers that are not giving the right attention attention to the leases and vacancies in their portfolios.
Monitor the aged debtors and the arrears within the portfolio. Split those numbers into property managers and client portfolios. Look for any discrepancies that can apply to the recovery of arrears monies on behalf of clients. Pay particular attention to the larger portfolios and the ways arrears and aged debts can be hidden within the tenancy mix. An aged debtors report by client and by property should identify tenants that fall into this category.
A big issue within the management of a portfolio is risk management. Various risks apply to the function of a property on a daily basis. The greater number of tenants and customers within a property, the greater the exposure of the client and the agency to risk events. If you manage a commercial or retail property, you are in charge of the risk of problem and should have a specific program of risk management that is reported to each week by each separate property manager.
Some landlords are demanding when it comes to the performance of their property and the quality of reporting. That being said, they are entitled to receive what they require when it comes to property management services. The agency does however need to get the fees correctly set for the services provided. That’s where most agencies fall down when it comes to matching fee generation and services. Understand your landlord clients, your fee structures, and ensure that both issues are correctly harmonized.
The responses of a property manager to the maintenance needs within a property should be tracked. Failure to address maintenance issues in a timely way can expose the agency and the client to liability and negligence claims.
Lease management, tenant retention, and tenant management are all specific lease and income issues. They require specific systems and solutions on the part of the manager within each property under management.
Look for leasing opportunities, lease renewals, tenancy relocations, rent review negotiations, and specific tenant expansion or contraction requirements. They can all be opportunities for property income improvement but also fee generation. Every property will produce different pressures and opportunities of this type, and on that basis have a fee structure that can be applied for the extra work within each of these categories.
This is just the start of the indicator process; there are other things that can be added to the list. That being said, there is a real need to monitor the performance of each property, each client, and each manager. The performance indicators will help you do that. The long term benefits are a stable property management portfolio and clients that trust your services.
In commercial real estate agency the tenants that you talk to must be qualified before you spend a lot of time with them. Most tenants looking for new or alternative premises to occupy will have spoken to quite a number of local property agents; on that basis you are just another person to get information from. Asking the right questions will help you work with the right tenants in the right way.
Most towns and cities will have a good supply of vacant premises available. We have some good listing stock to work with. If you want to dominate the local leasing market for your property type, it is wise to focus on the best property locations and the quality properties. In that way you will move more listings and do so faster.
Here are ten questions to ask prospective tenants before you get deeply involved in matching listings and undertaking property inspections:
Find out just who you are talking with and determine that they are the principal decision maker that is looking for property to lease. This issue gets more complex when you are dealing with a company or corporation. You may be talking with the local business manager but they may have little decision facility.
Understand their property requirements in location, improvements, car parking, area of premises, permitted use, and rental budget. These simple facts will help you with creating a short list of premises to look at.
The services and amenities in a property may be of relevance given the way the business or tenant operates. Staff and customer numbers will place some pressures on property choice.
A lease can be negotiated on the basis of gross or net rent. Through direct questioning you can see what rent types could suit the tenant. That will then influence the choice of property, the lease negotiation and the initial term of the lease in years and or months.
Ask them about any contacts they may have made with other agents. If your market is dominated by open listings it is likely that the tenant has looked at a lot of your listing stock already; on that basis you can see your commission from a lease agreement ‘disappear’ due to another agents introduction to the same property earlier.
The ideal timing of property changeover will give you an idea of just how important the move of premises is to them.
When you have got these facts sorted and identified you can move to the next stage of property selection and inspection. A wise leasing agent will get all the leasing the facts on the table and clearly identified before the hard work starts in property identification.