Time is really precious to any business person, but in commercial real estate time is perhaps the most important resource that you have. How you spend your time will impact your listing outcomes and your commissions. We all have choices that are critical to our business.
There are 3 types of salespeople in our industry:
- Those that watch what others do and follow the ‘leader of the pack’. Those people may be happy but they will not make much money. They don’t stay long in the industry.
- Those that conform to the trends of the market and the business team. Conforming is a comfortable way to do business although not very rewarding. Generic performance is the outcome.
- Those that see opportunity and drive new business from unique personal endeavours. This group of agents and brokers are independent in their visions and actions. They don’t need others to put momentum into their business.
If you have chosen commercial real estate as a career, you have done so for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most common:
- Income opportunities
- Independence as a business person
- Professional skill development and drive
- Unique skills and interests in the property market
Perhaps you are one of the few that have a focus on all perspectives. Whatever your priorities may be, the way you use your time will be an important attribute of your business.
Here are some tips to help you use your time more effectively as a real estate broker or agent:
- The things that you do every day will have a significant impact on the results that you achieve. It is therefore critical to understand the matters that are of high value to your commission and listing opportunities. Those things should be repeated regularly as part of the daily diary activity. Habits are really important to our professional careers.
- Some of the things that we do in the market today should be tracked for improvement and results. You can do that with key performance indicators and comparisons relating to your property type and fellow agents. Look for those agents and brokers that are highly successful; check out their activities to see if any of them can be replicated. In this industry you can learn from the skills of others. You can also learn from your own personal professional skill development. Track and measure the things that are occurring each day from your efforts. Adjust those efforts to suit improvements in listing opportunity, client connections, marketing strategies, and negotiation outcomes.
- In many respects, you can bring most of the specialized skills that we have back to simple things that can be practiced. As they say, practice makes perfect. You can practice your dialogues, negotiation skills, and presentation skills. Every day we use those things in so many different ways.
So the message here is quite simple. Have a serious look at your diary and how you use your time every day. Devote at least 1/3 your business day to business building activities. Take steps to improve your core skills through regular daily practice.
Some real estate agents fail in commercial real estate brokerage and they do so rather quickly due to a lack of focus and the right personal development. That doesn’t have to be the case. If the right personal skills and focus were developed early in their careers, results would come a lot easier to most of those agents.
We should define what ‘results’ are now so that this important topic can be handled and solutions set. Results for most commercial real estate agents are defined in the following terms:
- Quality exclusive listings
- Better market share of controlled listings within their sales territory
- A good database of clients and prospects
- Referral business from existing clients
- Closed deals in sales and leasing
- Growth in commissions
The agents that struggle in the industry usually have weaknesses in most if not all of the categories. Scary isn’t it?
Most of the agents that drop out of the industry will do so inside the first twelve months of their career; or they will move brokerage a few times to extend their ‘stay’ in the industry for a couple of years. If those agents had taken the time to develop the right levels of personal focus on growth of their business, things could have been a lot different. This focus should have started immediately a person enters the industry. The ‘clock is ticking’ as they say.
In the industry it is not so much a matter of an agent doing a lot of things each day to stay ahead of the demands of the job, but rather doing a few things extremely well that will help drive more business and market opportunities.
When you break down the real estate agent or broker role into categories or skills you will see a list that looks like this:
- Researching property owners, business leaders, and property investors to talk to
- Prospecting within those groups for potential new business and listings
- Presenting and pitching for listings and sales and leasing opportunity
- The listing process with a big focus on exclusive listings
- Property inspection skills across specialised market segments
- Marketing skills to reach the target audiences for each listing directly and effectively
- Negotiation skills for the property type and the location
- Closing skills and the accurate documenting of sales and leasing deals
- Building positive and valuable relationships with clients and prospects for the long term
If there are problems in any of these areas they will impact the success and momentum of any agent. That is where training and practice comes in very handy.
If you look at the list again and consider the factors involved you will also see that items 1 to 4 are likely to be far more important than the others. Most agents fail in the industry because they do not focus enough on those four items and systemise their prospecting and pitching relevance for new business; they then struggle with building market share and any relevance as a real estate agent.
It is a fact that most towns or cities have an abundance of properties to list and many agents or brokers to provide those services. The best agents win a larger slice of the new listing business simply because they are so good at items 1 to 4 in the list. Are you up to the challenge?
In commercial real estate brokerage, growth is good in so many ways. If you want to move ahead in your property market then developing a ‘lust for growth’ is a good thing. There are many ways you can grow your business and property opportunities.
To get things started, understand just where you are today in your market and what changes are occurring locally that could indicate a different business focus. I like to move from sales to leasing and then back again as opportunities allow. From a lease you can create the foundations for a sale of the property when the investor is ready to make a move in that direction.
So let’s look at some of the opportunities for you now and what factors of the market that you can grow:
- Personal level – some agents fail to grow much at a personal level. By that I mean in skills, and knowledge relating to your property market. The greater the value that we are to the clients that we serve, the larger the chances are that we can convert more listings and improve our presentation outcomes. Clients want to work with the best agents that really know what they are doing and are highly skilled in doing so. There is absolutely no point in being ‘generic’ as an agent today.
- Signboards – getting more signboards into your market is a good thing. The traditional signboard will create more enquiries for you. By this I am referring to the signs placed on ‘exclusive listings’. To get more signs on the quality local properties you should look at your prospecting model and escalate it to the next level of activity and specialisation.
- Listings – to build your commission opportunities it pays to work on a certain number of exclusive listings at any one time. Generally you will not have time to service more than 15 listings like this. Keep your listing numbers down but spend a good level of focus in doing so. Take every quality property to the market in a comprehensive way. Use the listings to get people talking and to share their property situation.
- Internet profile – we all use the internet to market properties. That being said you can have a blog on the internet at a personal level that lets you talk about property activity and industry changes in your local area. Today it is really essential that we go beyond property marketing and take our own profile to the online world. Use the blog to show the market place just how relevant and knowledgeable you are as a top property specialist. If you blog regularly (at least 3 times per week), the search engines will soon see your blog as something that they should link to and watch.
- Database – your database will bring you leads and opportunities if you follow the rules. Every day your database should be expanded and updated through personal effort. To do this effectively you can and should make the start of everyday a process of prospecting for new people.
These four simple growth factors will help you greatly as a real estate agent. Create the action and focus in each of the segments of ‘growth potential’. Soon the market will see your activities and give you more leads.
When you work as a real estate broker in industrial property, there will be plenty of situations where you are helping a business owner or tenant in selecting an industrial property or warehouse. In sales or leasing situations the criteria for property selection are quite similar in many respects.
To help with the process you can create a checklist of key industrial issues and occupancy factors that apply to your area, town or city.
Here is a list to help you get started in this checklist process:
- Ask questions about the business seeking relocation so you can understand the ‘business dynamics’ across issues related to customers, staff, manufacturing, storage, loading, deliveries, office integration, and warehousing needs etc.
- Location – there will be reasons for a business seeking a particular area to locate their business. It may have something to do with raw materials, transport, customer base, access, and regional markets.
- Size and Shape – the property should have the size and shape to accommodate business activities and operations. Some manufacturing businesses have seasonal pressures on output and deliveries. It may be that a high priority is placed on loading, and hardstand storage for that very reason. The same can be said for internal warehouse storage.
- Permitted use – the property and its intended use should comply with the local property zoning as well as the configuration of the improvements. You can visit the current premises occupied by a business to see the dynamics of daily operations, staff or department interaction, and customer interaction.
- Adaptability – how flexible or adaptable does a property need to be to satisfy the seasonal business pressures as well as expansion and contraction of trade?
- Lease terms – the lease terms that a landlord requires should be identified early in the vacancy marketing process so you can make a clear match to industrial tenants and their needs. How flexible will your landlord client be to tenant demands, levels of rent, incentives, and changes to lease terms?
- Traffic and Congestion – some businesses create significant pressure on property function with deliveries, manufacturing, customer access, transport, and extended hours of trade. If an industrial tenant is likely to put pressure on a property then special lease terms and conditions should be drafted to protect the landlord in case of property damage and high levels of maintenance.
- Priority placement – what is the one single ‘must have’ factor of property occupancy that an industrial business requires to be satisfied in property selection? Identify that early in your property review process. Target your listings accordingly.
From these simple questions you can move into short listing a property or listing for inspection. Don’t show the prospect too many properties initially as it is likely to confuse their perspective on property choice.
When it comes to getting a job in commercial real estate brokerage, you need to understand a few things about the market, the brokerage itself, and the client base. Some brokerages only serve a particular marketplace or customer type. Make sure that the match is clear and precise to your property type and market segment.
Here are some tips to help you with securing a rewarding job in commercial real estate today:
- If the brokerage is part of a broader franchise structure or if they have many salespeople within the one team, you will need to know how business is shared between offices or members of the team. Ensure that you have the flexibility to work the right areas and the property types that you can relate to. Also ensure that the rules of fairness apply to listing distribution and commission breakdowns.
- There are many systems and costs associated with commercial real estate today. One of the most important systems will be that of the database. As you grow your market share and client contact process, the database will grow. Ask questions about the ownership of the data and what will happen if you leave the business in the future. Can you take that data with you?
- Given that you will be talking to a lot of clients and prospects on a regular basis, opportunities will arise in sales, leasing, and property management. Every new client that you introduce to the brokerage should give you the opportunity of a trailing commission if the client converts to using any services of the office and any of the specialised staff. On that basis understand the referral fees and commission bases.
- Will you be offered the support of any of the administrative staff within the office? There are a lot of things to do when it comes to marketing, client administration, listing processes, and deal documentation. Some of those things will require your involvement; administrative support will be of high value to you as a broker or agent. Will you be expected to pay for that administrative support? Will the cost be taken from your commission in some way? Ask questions about the support structure within the office.
- Commission structures within a real estate office can be varied and a reflection of the skills and achievements to date of each individual. This means that some salespeople will be on different commission rates based on results achieved and personal skills. Your commission rates will depend on the value that you bring to the business currently and into the future. Seek out a sliding scale of commission that increasingly rewards you over time as you achieve better rates of client contact, exclusive listings, and closed transactions.
- The zone or the territory that you work within may have some limitations. Make sure that you get the necessary flexibility to attract new business in the property type that you understand and know. There are differences between office property, retail property, and industrial property. What properties can you work on and within what geographical zone? If you are required to share a listing with another broker or agent within your team, how will the commissions be split? These ratios of commission will need to be negotiated at the beginning of your employment.
So some of these questions can help you establish your market share and grow your real estate business. Don’t jump into a new employment arrangement with the new brokerage without due care and regard for the terms and conditions of employment. All the hard work and the prospecting that you are about to do should be rewarded fairly from the deals created.
Look for the fairness in the benchmarks that are applied across different agents and different brokers. Make sure that you can achieve the results and the targets that are to be set for you as a professional in the industry. Understand that the marketplace can provide you with the new business opportunities providing you work hard and with systemised focus. That’s what top agents do all the time.
In commercial real estate brokerage you need a ‘selling system’. That is a system that will apply to sales, leasing and or property management. It doesn’t matter what part of the industry that you work in, the selling of specialised services should apply. You are the best person to do that.
It can be said that not enough ‘selling’ goes on these days. All too often you see a broker or agent wasting time on ‘dead ends’ and unqualified prospects. The ‘selling’ process involves all of the following:
- Finding new clients to serve
- Promoting new listings in the local area
- Talking to new people every day
- Marketing a property to inquiring parties as part of an inspection
- Advertising online and in the newspapers etc.
So how can you do all of this with reasonable focus? You should have a system that controls your day and your focus. Stay on track in all respects as an agent or broker. Don’t divert your thinking or focus. Do the things that really matter to the clients and deals that you have underway.
You can split the ‘sales’ process up into these segments; in doing that you can improve your action and skills for each segment. Just how good are you at these things below?
- Researching new clients and properties to work on or for
- Prospecting consistently in your area and town or city for sellers, buyers, tenants, and landlords
- Identifying the requirements of people so you know if ongoing contact or perhaps a meeting is required
- Meeting creation for listings and presentations with clients
- Listing strategies that take into account the current market conditions
- Qualifying the right people to work with or take to listings as part of an inspection process
- Negotiation strategies for any stage of the property process and client situation
- Documentation processes and legalities
- Servicing the property, the client, and the deal
Every segment supports and leads to the next. If you have a weakness in any segment then you have a problem to address as a real estate agent. That is where training and role playing in your team can help. A career in commercial real estate involves ongoing and regular personal improvement. Prepare your selling system accordingly and stick to the plan.
In commercial real estate brokerage there are plenty of clients to choose from when it comes to sales, leasing, and property management activity. In saying that, it is important to understand the ideal client profile for your brokerage business. Some clients are better than others. Understanding the differences will help you focus your prospecting efforts in the correct way.
The suggestion here is that you should be selective when it comes to working with some clients. Understand the ideal client profile that will help you grow your listings and commission opportunities.
Here are some ideas to adopt in this process. You can add to the list based on your property location and your property speciality:
- Review your area and your sales territory so you understand exactly how many properties exist within your target market. There will be differences in numbers between office property, industrial property, and retail property. Some of your target properties will be widely spread and will therefore require complete understanding when it comes to prices and rental variations.
- Look at the history of the area to see what has been selling and leasing over the last two or three years. You can add to that assessment the factors of supply and demand as they relate to your area and your city. Is your market segment growing or contracting? How can you adjust to these fluctuations? What levels of commission are available for future sales and leasing activity? Focus your prospecting on quality clients and quality properties.
- The best customers to work for are those that can bring you repeat business over time. That business can be in sales, leasing, and property management activity. Some of the best clients to work for include established property investors, larger companies and corporations, and franchise groups. Get to know the right people within each targeted segment. Understand who the decision makers are when it comes to each investor, company, and location.
- The suggestion here is that you treat your customers and prospects differently. Those high value customers that you have identified for future business should be entered into a special segment of your database. They should receive special treatment when it comes to contact and service. You will also be approaching them more frequently with relevant market updates and changes within the industry.
- Some clients will require particular property types and improvements. Special understanding is needed when it comes to identifying the right properties for them to purchase or lease. The same can be said when it comes to the timing of an acquisition or relocation.
So there are plenty of things to do here when it comes to for client connection and prospecting. The choices that you make of it comes to each client in your segment of the market will help you greatly with future leasing and sales opportunity.
Get to know exactly what the client requires and tap into that opportunity over time. When you do this correctly, many of the transactions you create will occur off market and away from the pressures of agency competition.
Top real estate agents are easy to identify. They do the things that other agents avoid; they know how to tap into opportunity and the right clients. The good thing here is that top agents a far fewer in number (2 in 10 is a typical ratio); there is plenty of room at the top of the real estate market for those agents that strive to get there.
So what do these top agents have that other agents do not? I could summarise it really simply and say that it is ‘commitment and the right processes’. They know what to do and they do it every day. Over time they understand what works for them and they do those things every day.
Here are some ideas to help you get started on the road to being a ‘top agent’. Whilst I will give you a basic system here and now, take it and refine it as you progress. Adjust the system to your market and your property type.
- At least one third of your working day must be devoted to prospecting. That ratio should not change and if anything it should increase towards 50%. Track and measure your prospecting efforts. Understand what works for you and how you can do more of it.
- How you think will impact what you do on a daily basis. On that basis protect your thinking and your processes from the criticism of others. You are the person in charge of your business day.
- Watch what the top agents are doing. Can you replicate their processes or improve them? Success as an agent comes from doing a few specific things very well; not lots of things in a random way. Determine the 5 things that will help you drive your business forward. Decide how you can do those things every day.
- Quality properties should be converted to exclusive listings. When you control the listing stock the enquiries will come to you. Whilst it is good to know lots of other people that require a property to buy or lease, the top agents focus on listings. Find and convert the listings.
- You should have a prospecting system that is easy to implement and stick to every day. Do the required call research each night so you are ready to make the cold calls the next day. Don’t waste prospecting time on research that can be done ‘out of hours’.
Find out what people are doing with property now and into the future. A good client contact today can be a valuable client in the future. Build on your contacts so they trust and remember you at the right time in the future. That’s how you become a ‘top agent’.
When you start your career in commercial real estate brokerage, there are many things to consider and action. The first six months of personal activity and learning will be really important to setting the foundations for better listings and market share.
One thing needs to be said here; most of the valuable listing and commission business will only come to you from personal effort and actions on a daily basis. Very little comes to you from the agency that you work for. It’s a personal thing.
So what is the overall rule here? You must know a lot of ‘property related’ people and they must respect you as a top agent and skilled business person. From that point onwards you have something to work with.
To achieve this basic rule and strategy, a personal plan is required that you can keep to and use as a basis for growing market share. Here are some tips to help you get started in your career as a broker or real estate agent:
- The first six months of your career must be planned so you can get to know your market in all ways possible. The best people in the industry are skilled and specialised. Focus your efforts into a property type and a precinct.
- Review your area comprehensively. Look for information and trends about sales, leasing, prices, rents, new developments, and property owners. Check out the properties that are selling and leasing and the results that they are achieving.
- At the earliest possible time, start prospecting and talking to new people. It will be difficult at first, but practice and action will help you improve in many ways.
- Some properties and precincts will have more activity than others. It is useful to understand where the property deals are happening and why that is so. Soon you will see the types of properties that are likely to produce better deals and commissions over time.
- Computer technology and online tools today can help us a lot when it comes to communicating and tracking what we do. Use a variety of tools that can keep you organised and detailed on things that matter.
- Set some targets that you can track. What are your expectations regards commission income, listings, clients, meetings, and market share? To know those things you will really have to research the local area and understand exactly who and what you are up against. Your competitors will be doing things now that may attract the deals and the clients their way. If you are going to compete, a strategy should be built from ‘current market conditions’.
Given all of these things, do you know what your ideal client looks like, and where they will be coming from? Do you understand how you will attract those clients to use your services? Build your skills in all ways possible. You will find that the top agents of the market have exceptional skills in certain things. Decide what you will need to do to reach that level of domination.
In commercial real estate brokerage you will hear many people refer to the opportunities gained with attending networking events. Certainly that is the case.
So what are the best networking events that could you attend in your town or city? Here are some ideas to help you:
- Get involved with the local franchise council so that you connect work with franchise groups, franchisors, and franchisees. They may have potential needs when it comes to property relocation, or leasing.
- Solicitors and accountants are good sources of new business opportunity over time. Most of these successful professional people have plenty of clients with property challenges and needs. That being said, these solicitors and the accountants need to trust you and know your relevance as a top agent in the local area. Relationships take time to build with these people but they can be very rewarding over the longer term.
- The local property council or industry group will have networking events on a regular basis. That being said, just about every one of your competitors will be at the same event passing out business cards. All the more reason for you to be present and active on the day.
- Get involved with the local municipal council and know the relative councillors, mayor, and planning officers. They can tell you a lot about the local area when it comes to property changes and future activities.
- The local small business community will have meetings and gatherings from time to time. Understand the role that you can play as a local property specialist and how you can provide quality information to that small business community. On a regular basis you can speak to them about property trends, prices, and rentals. Small business owners invariably need a property to operate from as part of the business function. They may also need knowledge and information relating to property purchase and leasing alternatives at a local level.
So the networking process is quite useful and is part of a strategic process for brokers and agents.
Take your local property knowledge and information to every networking event and opportunity. Share information regards recent sales and leasing activity so that others may benefit from the trends of the market. Soon you will see that others will come to you for help and guidance.