In commercial real estate, questions form a big part of our interaction with clients and prospects. Asking the right questions will help you move through the listing and marketing process with focus and momentum.
When you think about it there are a few phases to a commercial property process that are critical and that we are at the centre of. Here are some of them:
- Prospecting for new business and listings
- Getting to know the right people for future property activity
- Pitching and presenting your skills and services to the right people so you can attract the listings
- Qualifying enquiries and people as they come to you for new business or a new property
- Inspecting properties with the right people that have been vetted for relevance and ability to act
- Negotiating and closing on sales and lease opportunities
All of these things involve some advanced questions and processes of communication. You can never know too much about the process of communication.
It can be said that top agents are usually very good communicators. They know what to say and do, and they practice their skills.
Your success in the commercial real estate industry depends on many things but two of the biggest are:
- Your prospecting and networking strategy
- Your rapport building skills and systems
Have you ever been involved with a salesperson that took your business but clearly did not want to have anything much to do with you? They invariably leave a bad taste or experience, and you will usually spread the word at your disgust.
Salespeople with ‘stinking attitudes’ do not deserve business or customers; over time these salespeople do not survive.
Bad news will always be spread by clients and customers that did not like your attitude and or service. They will do their upmost to tell others not to trust you and or you agency.
So let’s go back to the fact that questions are critical to rapport building and communication with your clients. Here are my ‘rules of engagement’ when it comes to clients and customers. Use questions to address these things:
- Seek to understand their needs fully before you offer suggestions of the market or the approach to sales or leasing.
- Get to know the property requirement in all respects before you give an opinion of marketing and target market.
- Get involved with the clients ‘thinking’ so you know how to help them.
- Offer real market suggestions given the local area and the competing properties
- Be a real strategist that can bring high relevance and momentum to a good property in a quality area.
Commercial real estate is not overly complex; it just requires salespeople that align to the client and the property.
In this property market, retail leasing is quite special. It can be extremely rewarding from a leasing commission perspective, however it does require the right knowledge and the right person to attract the correct levels of business.
Given that the current property market is somewhat frustrating and slow, many retail tenants are quite critical of the properties in which they are located. The relationship between the tenant and the landlord is critical to tenant retention and vacancy minimization.
It is interesting to note that many landlords managing their own properties tend to cut corners when it comes to maintenance within the property. The landlords in that case are too close to the function of the property to make clear and sensible decisions when it comes to property maintenance and property performance. They tend to look at the bottom line before they look at maintaining customer comfort and tenant performance.
A retail property is a careful balance between the landlord, the tenants, and the property manager. In many respects, the interaction has to work very positively.
Here are some skills required of a retail leasing specialist today:
- Get to know the local businesses throughout your region. Visit the competing properties to see what their tenant mix and property profile is doing.
- Market rentals will change from time to time. The pressures of supply and demand will shift the market rental throughout the year. This then says that you need to be very familiar with the current rental trends.
- Incentives for leasing will come and go from the property market based on the levels of enquiry and the amount of vacancy. Lookout for those property developments that could throw imbalance into the property market.
- A good leasing specialist will have an extensive database. Within that database you will have a significant number of local business proprietors, franchise groups, and landlords. Constant contact within those groups will help you identify future leasing needs and opportunities.
- Successful tenant occupancy will occur from a well-chosen tenant placed in a good property and tenancy mix. This then says that the tenant should be well chosen for the property and leasing placement. Every vacancy should be looked at from the larger perspective of the property and the overall tenancy mix.
Retail leasing is a very rewarding part of the industry; that being said, it does require that special effort and knowledge on the part of the individual leasing specialist. You can succeed in this part of the industry through deliberate focus and skillful marketing.
In commercial real estate, is far easier to sell and lease quality properties, than it is to work on average or below average properties. Every property listing demands the same amount of effort and commitment on the part of the agent.
That being said, you should not take on a listing unless you are fully prepared to commit to the entire marketing, inspection, and negotiation process. Top agents focus on quality listings and properties. As a general rule that should work for you too, as long as you prospect regularly and specifically.
It is very hard to get enthusiastic about a property that is overpriced, or where the landlord is not committed to the marketing process and the prevailing market conditions. That is why exclusive listings are more productive in today’s economic climate.
How many exclusive listings can you take on at any one time? It is an interesting question; however the averages seem to indicate about 15 to 20 properties. Beyond that point it is hard to keep up to date with all the marketing and inspections needed.
How many open listings can you take? As many as you like; that is because you do not service them to any great degree over time. You put a sign on an openly listed property and then you wait to see what happens.
Locational factors will help your listing enquiry and conversions. Look at the location of the property and then market into the location. That will mean things like:
- Check out the adjoining properties and then speak to the property owners to see if they want to purchase your listing.
- Talk to all business owners in the street that you can find. They may have a need for expansion or alternative premises.
- Get a signboard on all your listings. Most enquiries will be locally based. The signboard also helps your personal brand as an agent in the local area.
- Create a flyer of current listings and circulate that flyer monthly into the local area.
- Set up a blog on the internet for yourself. The blog should talk about local property market issues and changes. That being said do not advertise property on the blog; that is not what it is all about.
- Every successful sale or lease should be directly marketed into the local area. That is a personal thing and you are the best person to do that.
When you have a commercial property to market, think local and drill your marketing into the local area comprehensively. Over time you will get more opportunity that way as a specialist agent.