In commercial real estate agency each day, we are negotiating with many people across a number of challenging situations. Our ability to negotiate is a key part of growing market share and improving our commission opportunities. This then says that we should practice our dialogue and a negotiation skills at every opportunity.
A good negotiator in commercial real estate is one that understands the circumstances, the market, the documentary processes, and the intentions of the parties. It is sometimes a difficult equation to bring together. The clients that we serve expect their agents to be experienced and experts when it comes to the negotiation process.
So what are the negotiation stages and situations that we strike? Here are some of the main ones:
- The cold calling process is really a negotiation to establish a meeting with a new person. Your dialogue needs to be exemplary when it comes to communicating and connecting across the telephone. It is a specific skill that requires regular ongoing practice. In this way you can build connections with fresh prospects for your pipeline of new business.
- A cold call can also be something that applies to dropping into a local business to introduce yourself as a property specialist. The dialogue in that situation is totally different to the telephone process. This strategy can also reap significant rewards through practice.
- A sales pitch or presentation with a new prospective client is a negotiation to achieve a listing. That listing will involve a marketing package, marketing strategy, and listing process. It is interesting to note that the top agents within the market are very good at converting a new property to an exclusive listing. Those more ordinary agents in the market usually take the lesser alternative of an open listing. Unfortunately the ordinary agents struggle with market share as a result of this, and have little control over the deal that could possibly evolve. The message here is quite clear. If you want to convert more exclusive listings to grow your market share, then you need to refine your sales pitch and presentation process. A role playing strategy in your sales team meetings will help. Personal daily practice will also be necessary.
- When you find a suitable tenant for a buyer for a property, another negotiation stage will evolve between the parties. It is wise to remember the requirements and intentions of your client as the negotiation proceeds. Every stage of a negotiation should be carefully checked and documented. When you get to the final stages of offer and acceptance, the agreement document between the parties should be legally accurate, comprehensive, and correct. Some property transactions can be quite complex and for that reason you will need outside assistance to formulate the final document from the offer and acceptance situation.
Given these very common negotiation situations, you can see why dialogue improvement will help you strengthen your market share and commission opportunity in commercial real estate agency. Practice is required.
In a commercial or retail property today, it is the tenants that provide the backbone and the stability to income and rental performance. On that basis, you really do need to keep your tenants well in control given the prevailing market conditions and the current tenancy mix.
It is notable that a retail property can be highly volatile when it comes to tenant interaction and occupancy. Essentially all retail tenants are essentially small business people that rely on the success of the property and the overall tenancy mix to provide an opportunity for sales growth.
The tenants in a retail property will usually talk between each other on a regular basis. They therefore share information and perceptions relating to the property, the property manager, and the landlord. I go back to the point, that you must not let your tenants get out of control. Encourage good communications and build solid relationships with all of your tenants.
Here are some rules to apply to the tenant communication and connection process in commercial and retail property today:
- The tenant will be assessing their business performance continually during the year and the lease term. This then says that you should meet with your tenants on a monthly basis. This will help you when it comes to understanding shifts and changes relating to their business, customer base, or sales. If you identify any problems early, you can make the necessary adjustments to occupancy or leasing strategy.
- In a large property, it is likely that you will have one or more anchor tenants as part of the tenancy mix. The anchor tenants will usually be in occupancy for the long term with a lease document that extends over a number of years; in most cases the lease for an anchor tenant will be in excess of 10 years and will have options for lengthy renewal terms. Stay close to your anchor tenants so that you can understand how they are integrating into the overall property and any associated specialty tenants. The success of the anchor tenant will have some flow through to the specialty tenants.
- Most leases will have provisions for rent reviews and options as part of occupancy. The critical dates that apply to those lease situations should be carefully watched. Any rent review or lease renewal inside the next 12 months should be negotiated as early as possible. This then will remove the volatility from the property for the landlord.
- Every meeting or conversation with a tenant should be documented as quickly as possible. Whilst a simple situation or discussion today with a tenant may seem unimportant, it is quite common to have more complex issues arise in the future that started from some simple discussion or telephone conversation.
Get to know your tenants as part of the services that you provide for your client the landlord. In this way you can help the client understand the predictable changes that you can see with the tenancy mix and the lease profiles.
Leasing commercial real estate is something that can provide a good buffer of commission when sales listings and actual sales have slowed. It is also the case that a successful lease transaction can lead to a future property management or sales opportunity. This then says that all top commercial real estate agents should be prepared to lease ‘quality’ local property.
Notice that I said the word ‘quality’ when it comes to property selection. Determine the property size and type that will give you the appropriate fee for a successful lease transaction. Focus locally on quality, the good landlords, and the quality tenants. A lease transaction can take a reasonable amount of time to initiate and complete. On that basis you should only focus on the good deals and the good opportunities. Let some other agent have the small things to lease that have minimal fee results.
Here are some tips for taking enquiries from tenants today when it comes to leasing new premises or relocating:
- Make sure that you’re talking to the decision maker when it comes to the particular tenant. Get the contact details and the identity of the tenant sorted before you provide too much property information.
- Ask them about the property type that they are looking for when it comes to improvements, services and amenities, location, and permitted use. Also find out about the required lease term, the rental budget, and property usage.
- The tenant’s staff and the customers interacting on the property will create certain challenges when it comes to improvements and location. Car parking is a good example and case in point.
- There are big differences when it comes to leasing office, industrial, and retail property. Create checklists for each so you can ask the relevant questions with potential tenants.
- Is the tenant coming to you today from another property location? Are they new to leasing property locally? If they know nothing about the local area, you will need to fill in the gaps when it comes to business demographics, transport, communication, local area profile, and property usage.
- If they are coming to you from another property location, they may have some timeframe to satisfy or a property disposal requirement. Ask the right questions to get the complete picture. You may even find another listing requirement with the property changeover.
- Has the tenant looked at other listings with other local property agents? It is quite likely that they have seen other listings and may have current negotiations underway through other agents. It is good to know if this is the case so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Don’t be too eager to take a tenant to a property. Get all of the facts together prior to the inspection process so that you don’t waste your time with the incorrect strategies or listings. Match the tenant to the property before you leave the office; qualify them. If necessary take them to a number of properties to give them a comparison of current market conditions.
Get more tips like this in our Newsletter.
The retail shop leasing process is quite specific and special. It requires property agents that are very familiar with the retail industry and shopping center dynamics.
It is no secret that the retail shop industry is changing due to the impact of the Internet and the current economic circumstances globally. That being said, the retail shop industry doesn’t disappear it just changes. We are best placed has specialized leasing agents to help tenants and landlords move through the process of change when it comes to shopping centers and specialist retail properties.
Here are some tips to help you with creating your retail tenant mix and plans for shopping center leasing optimization:
- Check out all of the other competing properties in the local area. They will have factors associated with vacancy, tenant movement, and tenant success. Make a list of their tenants for direct contact and cold calling. Some of those tenants will be more successful than others. It is those tenants that you should encourage to move to your property.
- Look at the other competing properties with regards to property improvements, customer access, and customer profile. Also look at the factors of car parking, public transport, and property size. Are there any weaknesses in these factors that can be optimized in your property?
- The franchise groups in the local area will always be a good opportunity for tenant enquiry and new leases. It is simply a matter of understanding the properties that they are looking for. It is likely that they will have specific lease terms and conditions that apply to any premises that they negotiate on. You will need to brief your landlord on the standard terms and conditions that the franchisor requires. The franchise agreement needs to integrate with the lease of the premises. Your landlord needs to understand that fact so that the business can operate within the branding and business agreement requirements of the franchise group.
- With any larger retail property, it pays to stay ahead of any lease issues. They include rent reviews, options, and lease expires. Look at all of these events at least 12 months in advance. This then allows you to plan the interaction with the tenant given the conditions of the local property market.
- If you want to be a retail leasing expert, grow your knowledge with regard to business viability and different business types. Some businesses have different requirements as to cash flow and occupancy costs. If those requirements are exceeded, it is likely that you will have an unsuccessful and volatile tenant. Ultimately that will mean a new vacancy.
- With your existing tenancy mix, consider the factors of expansion and contraction as they apply to each particular tenant. Help the existing good tenants within the property to adjust the leasing needs and remain in occupancy.
- The anchor tenants in a retail property are very important to the overall success of sales, specialty tenants, customer visits, and market rental. Stay close to the anchor tenants as part of an ongoing lease strategy.
- Retail leasing and shopping center performance are quite unique strategies to be developed for each landlord and property location. It is not unusual to have a business plan developed for each medium to large property. In that plan you will have income profiles, expenditure management, maintenance plans, tenancy strategies, tenant retention solutions, and reporting requirements.
Retail shop leasing is perhaps one of the most interesting and rewarding segments of the property market today. That being said, it does require people that understand retail business and property viability.
In commercial or retail property leasing, it is important that you are prepared for the property inspections that you take with prospects. You only have a short time to create the interest of the tenant prospect and move them to a lease offer.
Here are some tips from our Newsletter.
So what is the focus of the leasing inspection? It should be to create the interest of the tenant and remove any questions that they may have regards the property. To do this you have to be prepared.
Here are some leasing tools that you can use as part of the leasing inspection of vacant premises:
- Be aware of the competing properties in the local area. The prospective tenant is bound to have seen those properties with other agents or at least be aware of the space availability and the asking rent. You will have to know the differences in properties and why one rent is more relevant than another.
- The asking rents for your property should be in parity to the market rents locally for properties of similar type. Have you checked that out? Is your asking rent within the reality of the current market rents? How will you pitch the rent requirement to the tenant when they challenge you? How can you sell that rent package? You will need to have your answers ready.
- Take some measurement tools to the property. That will usually be a laser measurement tool to calculate distances, plus a measurement ‘wheel’ that you can use to walk around the property. It is important that you do not certify areas and distances as you are not a surveyor, however you can give approximations to the tenant so they know approximately what factors exist in the property.
- Always have a camera with you to take photos of relevant parts of the property. It is remarkable where those photos will come in handy in later conversation with tenants.
- Take a list of services and amenities in the property, together with fixed improvements that may be relevant and important to tenants in occupation. Some tenants are very interested in communications and power capability in the premises. Ensure that you have the information at your fingertips.
- When it comes to inspecting office premises, the tenants like to know about the finishes that are required in any fitout changes. If your property is a modern property with quality finishes, there will be some guidelines to apply here when it comes to negotiating tenant fitout design and standards. Get details of these things from the property manager or landlord.
- The plans for the property will show as built factors relating to structure, electrical, air conditioning, hydraulic, and lighting. The plans will also show you where the riser is in the building for the tenant to tap into the property services.
- Take notes of all representations made and comments given in a leasing inspection. Those comments could become critical in the ongoing lease negotiations.
- Lastly you should have a reasonable knowledge of the outgoings to be paid by the tenant in the property. Those outgoings will be impacted by the type of lease to be used. Those outgoings should be in parity with other properties of similar size and type in the local area.
When you are fully prepared, the leasing process and inspection becomes much easier. Top leasing agents are always prepared to give the right information in the property leasing inspection.
You can get more tips like this in our Newsletter.
When tenants are on the lookout for a good commercial property to lease they will visit or call many local commercial real estate agents as part of the research process. Rarely will the tenant work with just one agent.
So you have to get to the facts of their property need and what they are looking for. You also should ask about where they have looked for premises elsewhere and who they are working with currently. It is likely that they already have a significant amount of lease information about other properties available for renting locally; when you know what they have seen already, you will know how to pitch the available properties that you have on your books to lease.
Here are some questions to ask the tenants that are in the property market currently and looking for a property to lease:
- Who are you talking to? If you are talking to a business based client, who is the decision maker and what is the contact detail for them?
- In what location do they require the property or premises? That being the case, what have they looked at already and with whom?
- How big should the premises be? You will need to define that area in types of buildings and or areas of the property. For example office space, warehouse, showroom, car park, and hardstand. Different rents would apply in each area and therefore will influence the overall total lease package.
- What improvements should feature in the property and in what way will they use those improvements? Some of those improvements will be essential whilst others will be discretional.
- What is their rental budget for the premises? The budget will give you a guide as to what they can inspect and what is beyond their budget.
- There are different types of leases and rentals available when it comes to renting an office, industrial, or retail property. Some of your landlord clients will have already set their guidelines in that regard. Match the tenant to the property type and the lease terms and conditions that suit their requirements.
- What is the timing of the property changeover? That timing could shortlist some of the properties that you show the tenant.
- What will be the use of the premises? It may be that the local property zoning will need to be reviewed to ensure that the expected or required property use is allowed in the area.
- Where are they coming from now and is that property leased? You could get some reference from their previous landlord as part of the intended relocation.
- What other properties have they seen already locally? What agents are they working with locally? There is no point wasting too much time with tenants that have seen everything that is available for lease in the area. Selectively show them properties that suit. Be aware that they may have seen some properties with other agents prior to seeing you.
The more facts you can get from the tenant, the greater the chance that you can locate a property for them to lease. Leasing property is a good part of the industry to tap into. You will find lots of leads and commission opportunity if you ask the right questions.
The services we provide as the local commercial or retail real estate agency are quite specific and special. The local property market will change throughout the year, as will the supply and demand for premises. On that basis, we are the experts to help the clients that we serve.
Sales and leasing strategies for commercial and retail property will change throughout the year. Each and every prospect should be entered into a database so that we can build on all future opportunity when the right property comes along. Your diligence here will help your commission conversions and future listing opportunity.
Local property market information will come in many forms including prices, rentals, future developments, and the supply and demand for new space to occupy. The clients that we serve cannot hope to cover those issues themselves. That is where we step in as the experts and property strategists.
Top agents know how to package the negotiation for the best outcomes and results for the client. These agents know what the market is doing, and how to package the right transaction for the clients that they serve.
Here are some tips to help you design your services for your local commercial and retail property clients.
- Local market information will vary throughout the year; you will see changing results in both sales and leasing activity. This local market activity will be setting the necessary benchmarks and the market rentals or prices as the case may be.
- Local business sentiment, together with changes in the business community will have impact when it comes to property occupancy, sales, leasing, and rental returns. It is our job to accumulate the necessary market knowledge and strategy to help the clients that we serve. Optimising property occupancy and rental returns will help the eventual sales equation and resultant price.
- Rental strategy is quite specific to the location, the property type, and the intentions of the landlord. In most cases, the rental should be set with the landlord prior to commencing any marketing effort relating to the particular property. Standards and differences will apply when it comes to gross rental, net rental, incentives, rent reviews, and lease options. We are the experts to help with these factors.
- Monitor the lease terms and conditions that apply to existing properties in the local area. Business sentiment will have impact on existing negotiations and marketing strategies that you apply to each and every listing. The supply and demand for local property will have immediate impact on the starting rental for any leases. The same for pressures apply when it comes to the sale price. On this basis, you need to know the differences between asking prices or rents, verses the facts and outcomes in finalised and completed transactions.
- Outgoings and operating costs will need to be recovered when it comes to lease occupancy. The decisions you make here will have impact on the landlord and the rental structure of the lease document. Local market standards, and the particular elements of the property may influence you when it comes to gross or net rental. Importantly, the operating costs for the property should be recovered as part of the lease structure, so make the right decisions when it comes to rental type and outgoings recovery.
- Tenant mix strategy will shift and change throughout the year. Tenancy mix decisions become important when you are working with a property containing multiple occupants in close proximity. The duration of leases, and the proximity of those leases to other tenants need to be considered as part of each lease negotiation.
- The permitted use for each lease and tenant occupancy should be well considered and controlled. Is quite important to ensure that the permitted use described in each lease that you negotiate is very specific and tight. Too much latitude here will allow the tenant to change the focus of the business and the offering to their customers. This also has impact on any future lease assignment or subletting situation. The permitted use will also have relevance to the tenancy mix strategy and any tenant retention plans that you implement.
- Vacancy and lease management should occur throughout the year. Staying well ahead of any lease events and critical dates is quite important. Prepare the landlord for any negotiations well in advance. Have due regard for the local market conditions and the benchmarks established by other similar properties nearby.
It is easy to see why the services we provide as commercial real estate agents are regarded as specialised and unique. That is why we charge a significant fee for service. The clients that we serve can benefit significantly from the factors of our negotiation and finalised transactions.
In commercial and retail property today, a tenant retention plan should be part of the services provided by specialist commercial leasing agents and property managers. The retention plan can be a value-add service for the clients that we work for.
It is no secret that the commercial and retail property investment market is under some strain. That is all due to the pressures on the local business community. This will change and improve over time. Up until then, we need to approach the property market with system and focus to help the clients that we work for. The tenant retention plan is one way of doing that.
That’s presume you have a good property to work with and the client to assist when it comes to tenant retention. Here are some tips to help you build the program and the system of retention.
- Review the property comprehensively to determine which tenants are more important to the future of the property. Those high priority tenants should receive special treatment when it comes to lease renegotiation and occupancy. The other tenants in the property may be retained although some form of priority needs to be determined.
- Review all the leases relative to all tenancies. Those leases will contain critical dates and terms and conditions that will have impact on the property function and tenancy mix. Ensure that those dates and factors are allowed for when it comes to tenant negotiation and tenant planning.
- Keep in close contact with all tenants within the building to ensure that any needs of expansion or contraction are fully understood. If you do not do this, it is quite likely that the tenant will look elsewhere to other agencies for assistance and relocation. Before long you will have a vacancy to deal with which could have been avoided?
- To formulate a good retention plan, you need a strategy of rental and lease documentation. The rents for the property can be either gross or net and should be determined based on the trends of the local property industry and the age of the property. The rents should assist the landlord to recover property operational costs (also known as outgoings). Any rent reviews applied to the leases will be based on the rental type and lease term. Strategy is everything with rental choices, so make sure you have the right information to help you with the correct rental choices.
- Lease incentives will vary throughout the year from property to property and with relevance to any new property developments coming up. Incentives will potentially attract your tenants to move elsewhere. For this very reason, your client, the property owner, needs to be quite flexible when it comes to the setting of lease incentives for existing sitting tenants. Failure to provide an incentive to a sitting tenant may very well see them move elsewhere. The cost of a vacancy in a property is significant and most inconvenient at most times.
- As part of the retention plan, review the local area with due regard for competing properties. They will have an impact on your tenancy mix and also market rental. Some of those competing properties will be influencing your tenants to move elsewhere. Be careful and respectful of these competing properties.
So these are some tips and ideas that can apply to the tenant retention program. As a specialized leasing agent, you can establish some real strategy here to help the landlord with their property momentum and property focus. When the property market is slow or tough, the value of a retention program is high. You simply need to structure your fee for service into the appropriate appointment to act.
Finding tenants for your vacant buildings can be a real challenge. The fact of the matter is that most new tenants will come from the businesses in your local area. On that basis the direct personal approach to businesses tends to work more than anything else.
To be successful in commercial real estate leasing it is best to focus on the local business community and the movements that come from there. The best marketing approach for any vacant tenancy or leasing project should be biased towards the local area. This then says that the best marketing campaign can be structured around some of the following local strategies:
- Determine the ideal target market that best suits the property
- Get a signboard on to the property as soon as possible
- Personally canvass it of the businesses in the immediate location
- Circulate simple brochures into the business postal delivery service
- Review your database for any previous leasing enquiries that may not have been satisfied
- Identify the best buildings in the general precinct that may have tenant volatility. Approach the tenants in the building to see if they are looking to move.
The leasing process will always be far more successful when you orientate it towards local businesses and local properties. Your database should contain several hundred local businesses and decision makers for those businesses.
Approaching local businesses
When it comes to the occupancy of a property, local businesses tend to maintain a local focus so that they do not lose their customer base in any property changeover. The fact of the matter is that they want comfortable occupancy at a reasonable rental.
In approaching the local businesses, the following questions and strategies will help you in gathering the right facts and building on the correct opportunities.
- Are they a tenant in occupancy or do they own the property?
- If they are the tenant, ask them some questions regarding the current lease. Most particularly the expiry date of the lease will be of great value to you, and any renewal intentions that they may have.
- Are they under any pressure to expand or contract leased area at the moment? Some businesses simply outgrow their property for one reason or another.
- What can the tenants tell you about their landlord? The detail that you get here could be useful in the future when it comes to looking for commercial properties to sell.
- What does the local business owner think about the local area from a leasing and business angle? Are they aware of any businesses that may be seeking change?
Simple questions like these can help you build a great database of future opportunity in leasing premises locally. Take action today and get out into the local business community. Make them part of your prospecting model.
In today’s property market, your current tenants in your tenancy mix are important to the future of the property. When you create a tenant retention plan, you can optimise the income potential for the property. That being said, a tenant retention program should be part of a professional property management and leasing service provided to landlords by agents. Good commercial property agencies provide this specialised service.
It should be said that tenant retention is not just about lifting the rent for the landlord; in fact, that is probably the wrong strategy to adopt in your plan. It is better to have a few priorities in balance so your retention plan forms a key part of the business plan for the property.
In particular, a good retention plan should include the following as goals:
- Stabilise and minimise the vacancy factor
- Create a group of prospective tenants for the vacancies in the property if and when they arise
- Support the tenant mix so that tenants can occupy in comfort and build their businesses
- Control occupancy costs for the landlord and the tenants within realistic benchmarks
- Underpin the market rental for the property which in turn can support sustained property values for the landlord
- Allow for tenant movements and property refurbishment strategies in parts of the property as planned at the beginning of the business or financial year
- Help keep tenants in occupancy for the long term and in balance with the landlords investment requirements
It should be said that a retention plan is highly important in retail property given that the stability of the tenant mix is required to keep customers coming to the property on a regular basis. Any vacancy in a property is quickly seen and will detract from the image that a successful retail property needs to set.
So how can you establish a plan of this type? Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Understand the supply and demand for tenancy space in the local area today. As part of that process get to know what new property developments are coming up that will impact the available space ratio.
- Consider your property as it is today and determine what refurbishment and relocation issues should be merged into your retention plan.
- Split your tenancies into high value tenants and low value tenants when it comes to the future of the property. Some of your tenants you cannot do without and everything must be done to encourage them to stay in a property.
- Anchor tenants will normally be secured on long leases. The instability or change of an anchor tenant can impact all speciality tenants in a major way. Find out when the anchor tenant lease expires and just what the anchor tenant thinks about the property today. Do they intend to stay in the property? When does their lease expire? Can they do more to work in with the other tenants in the specialty areas?
- What levels of trade exist in the retail property and what tenant types are more successful than others? This information will help you find new tenants that suit the customer needs in the property shopping centre or retail property.
- Is your property servicing a particular need? In retail property this could mean ‘convenience’ or ‘destination’ shopping. When you know what works in a property, you can do something more with it.
- Common area use will have impact on special property precincts such as ‘food courts’ and just how customers move through the property. Take a survey of those factors and form and opinion as to how successful they are now. Changes may be required to help in tenant sales and retention.
- Look at all the leases in the property and identify any leases that have market rent reviews, options, or expiry dates in the next 2 years. Those tenants or leases will be a major focus of your retention plan.
You can add to this list based on your property and the overall location. Importantly you should create a tenant retention plan that can help improve the performance of any property in any market. That is why you were engaged by the client in the first place; correct?