A good client in commercial real estate can be a massive opportunity in commissions and repeat business over time. Finding the good clients to work with can take time, but the process is necessary and should be done on an individual basis by all agents.
The agents that struggle in any commercial property market are invariably those that do not do enough prospecting on a daily basis and therefore do not have a good source of clients and contacts. It is a simple equation but it does require personal effort.
When you know what a client can do for you, the process of ongoing contact becomes a logical process. Here are some ideas to help you:
- A prospect may not be a client today, but they may certainly have all the attributes of a good client in the future. Comprehensively cover all the possibilities in sales, leasing, and property management. Be prepared to talk across all disciplines. A leasing opportunity today can be a sale or a property management appointment tomorrow or in the future.
- Some property developers and property owners have a number of properties across their portfolio so investment needs can be quite diverse. When they own more than one property, the challenge of keeping up with rents, vacancies, rent reviews, new tenants, and options can be daunting. Market your services to their broader property requirements and challenges.
- When you consider a property with multiple tenants or available premises, the tenant mix analysis and strategy can be quite special. The facts are very apparent with retail property and shopping centre performance. If you provide property leasing services, take the time to understand the strategies behind tenant placement, leasing and clustering. Any tenant that you choose for a property should be well selected given the requirements of income, profile, permitted use, compatibility to the property and the other tenants; consider the long term occupancy potential. Your leasing services should be quite special taking into account these unique factors. Show the client some real reasons as to why you are a top leasing agent.
- A good client will have certain future property needs and targets. On that basis you can seek to satisfy those requirements with some planned ‘off market’ transactions and targeted solutions. Help the client with where they want to head with the right property types and income growth. Remove the pressure from the client’s investment strategy. Show the client what they need to do to stay ahead of the market today and in the future.
Seek to understand your property clients in all respects. A good client relationship may take months to nurture. Trust and respect has to be there before the larger clients will work with you.
In commercial real estate today many agents will say that the property market has changed, and indeed it has. The fact of the matter is that it is always changing and we as agents must live with that change. If we want to earn good commissions and find more listings, we have to use that property market change change and do something productive with it.
In any working year and selling season you will find common fluctuations in all of the following:
- Lack of tenants to fill the existing vacancies
- Slow deals and decisions when it comes to property sales or leases
- Lack of buyers coming to you from the marketing efforts and advertising
- No developments coming up to put more space into the market
- High vacancy factors in existing properties
- Low grade stock and nothing of quality available to rent or buy
- Too many properties on the market in either sales or leasing
The real issue here is that these things happen all the time. If any of these things are frustrating you now in your commercial real estate agency, then have a good look at your prospecting efforts and just how many people you talk to every day. It is quite likely that you have a poor or non-existent prospecting model.
Most agents that struggle with the changes in the property market are those that do not have a solid database of qualified prospects and contacts. Those agents live from day to day on the results that they get from ever new listing and the advertising that follows. They lack new people and established contacts to talk to. They generally have not created the pipeline of contact that is so important in our industry.
It is a fact that the cycle of property activity in commercial real estate is quite long. It can be months if not years for some of our prospects to take action or deal with a property matter. Your success in the industry will be strengthened by the number of people that you know and the frequency of direct contact that you make with them.
When you look at a list like that mentioned above, you can turn every market ‘negative’ into a ‘positive’. For example:
- You can specialize in finding tenants when they are few and not overly active.
- You can improve your negotiation and marketing skills to put urgency into the average property transaction.
- You can get to know lots of local business owners and property investors so you have people to talk to when a quality listing comes onto the market.
- You can become a specialist in selling or leasing a good property ‘off market’ when other agents are struggling with the traditional way of finding buyers and tenants.
You can turn every negative market situation into a positive one if you work at it as a specialized commercial real estate agent.
In commercial real estate agency today, develop some personal strategies to help build market share. Most of the successes created in the industry are personally generated. Your employer and real estate agency has little to do with the process. It’s all up to you.
Many salespeople join the industry thinking that the apparent opportunity for listings and good commissions will help them rise to the top of the market fairly quickly. Reality sinks in after two or three months; the industry can be quite a challenge for new agents; prospecting and networking is required each and every day. It takes deliberate effort and hard work at a personal level to rise to the top of the industry. That’s what all top agents do. You can do the same, however it is your choice to proceed in a systemized and deliberate way.
Here are some strategies to help you establish a solid market share as a real estate agent, and grow the opportunity for further commissions and listings.
- Understand the growth potential of the market. Your local property market should be defined geographically so you know exactly where you can focus your prospecting efforts. Within that geographical zone, research the necessary growth segments of the market to focus on. There is no point in you specializing in something that has little growth potential.
- Check out your property precinct to see what is working when it comes to sales and leasing activity. Certain methods of sale and certain methods of leasing will be much more successful than others in today’s property market. Understand what works, and then merge those strategies into every listing presentation and sales pitch that you do.
- Check out the competing properties in the local area to see how long they had been on the market. Understand why that is so, and avoid the errors of those other agents and those other properties. Top agents know how to promote and market properties efficiently and effectively. They don’t like to waste time.
- Observe and track all of the good agents in your local area. Find those top agents that seem to be dominating market share and see what they are doing as part of that process. You can learn a lot from other top agents simply by watching their activities when it comes to prospecting, marketing, client selection, and promotional activities.
- Signboard presence through the local area will help you personally when it comes to market share. You should have plenty of signs in the local area on quality listings. There is a real difference to be noted here, and that is the difference between open listings and exclusive listings. Open listings are generally a waste of time, and the same can be said for putting your signboard on any openly listed property with many other agent signboards. The signboards that will create a strong personal brand and professional image are those that are placed on exclusive listings. Sell your services on the basis of an exclusive listing that you can control for a number of months. Then devote the required effort on creating enquiry and getting inspections underway.
- Most of the listings that you pursue will be done so on the basis of a competitive sales pitch and presentation. There will be plenty of other agents chasing the same listings. That being said, your presentational strategy and relevance has to be finely tuned and of the highest quality. Approaching a listing generically usually results in an open listing if any listing at all. When you specifically focus on a listing and provide real and relevant strategies to the client, they cannot help but seriously consider your commercial real estate services and potentially take an exclusive listing with you. A client that wants the best agent will need to take an exclusive listing with that agent. The promotion of property today is not an experiment. Good results come from top agents taking an exclusive listing over a quality property. They then apply all of their efforts into the marketing campaign and inspection strategy.
Success in the commercial real estate market is not a random event. It is generally well planned and facilitated through deliberate systems and actions on the part of each and every agent. Only the best agents rise to the top of the market and that will be only through their personal processes and strategies. You can do the same. The market opportunity awaits you action.
In commercial real estate agency, the employment of a trainee is a good support strategy in the agency. If you are to employ a ‘trainee’ in the sales agency area of your business, it is important that you set the right goals and tasks to get them off on the right foot to a successful career. You should give them a ‘probation’ period and also an induction program.
Every trainee will have a high opinion of what they think they can do in the industry when first employed. It is a fact that the ‘rising stars’ in the industry are very hard workers. The ‘top agents’ status only goes to those that are prepared to learn and work hard for many years.
There are lots of things to ‘grow with’ when it comes to the personal performance and knowledge of a trainee in your agency. To keep the new person on track you should set some controls to help them. Here are some ideas to do that:
- Give them a tour of the office to show them how things happen.
- Introduce them to others in the business and explain what each person does.
- Give them a set of job specifications across the agency so they can see how people are expected to contribute as part of a team.
- Tell them about the hours that the business operates and what is expected of attendance in those hours.
- Confidentiality is a big issue in our industry. Get them to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of their employment arrangements.
- Give the new person an induction manual for the business. It should contain a complete summary of how things happen on a daily basis and what is expected of the team in response.
- Communication skills should be controlled from the very start of a trainee’s employment. They should include computer and internet protocols, client contact, telephone calls inbound and outbound, plus all written and verbal communication. Professionalism is essential.
- A trainee will be required to learn the function of the agency ‘from the bottom up’. Some tasks will be mundane and ordinary but that is how a person learns. Give them a schedule of ordinary things to do on a daily basis. See how they commit to those things.
Allow the trainee to have a say in what they want to do with their job and career in commercial real estate. Get them involved with personal goals and targets. Give them the guidance to move up in the industry. Assess their progress weekly and monthly.
In commercial real estate agency, you will come across many people every day with various interests in commercial and retail property. Some may have an interest in selling, buying, or leasing. This then says that we need to be versatile when it comes to dialogue and communication. In a short period of time you need to impress the other person with significance as an agent.
To help you here, you can develop a very simple 2 minutes sales pitch. In many respects, you only have a short period of time to connect with the required people and convey a clear message of how you can help them. Confidence and relevance needs to be shown as part of that connection.
As a general rule, this short 2 minute connection should tell the client or the prospect what you do and how that will benefit them. Remember the old saying, ‘What’s in it for me?’ You should try to answer that as part of connecting with new people.
It is not sufficient to say:
- I lease commercial real estate.
- I market and sell commercial real estate.
- I manage shopping centres.
All of these things do little to show that you really are a relevant property specialist. You could take these phrases and improve them as follows:
- I lease commercial real estate locally for landlords that require quality tenants. I do that by staying in close contact with the most active and sizeable tenants in the region.
- I market and sell commercial real estate for property investors. I do that by tracking all the recent property deals and upcoming opportunity both off market and on market.
- I manage shopping centres locally for major property investors. I do that by optimising tenant mix and rental returns.
You can take simple statements like these and turn them into something that works for you. Tell and show a prospect how you are real and relevant. Give them a reason to work with you or at least listen to you.
This simple process helps you in a number of ways:
- It makes you stand out as someone that is a specialist in the local property market.
- It can be an icebreaker in a new contact with a prospect.
- It helps them see what they can get from you if all other property issues are aligned.
- It helps you win listings.
Communication in our industry is a large part of finding the right people and moving them to a meeting of some type. Meetings then can open the door on listings or sourcing properties. The simple ‘two minute sales pitch’ helps you attract the prospects attention in a relevant way.