Signboards in commercial real estate are a critical part of branding for both the brokerage and also for the agent. The greater number of signs you have in your territory the easier it is for you to build your listing opportunities.
Most of the clients that use our services don’t want to list their property with a ‘secret agent’. They want the agent with the best exposure to the market that can attract the enquiry fast and efficiently. Signboards help with that.
I should qualify this further and say that ‘exclusive listings’ are better for your signboard profile and exposure. On that basis every sales pitch and presentation should be centred on converting a listing in that way. Top agents dominate the market with ‘exclusives’. When you control the listing stock, the market has to come to you. That assumes that you have listed the property correctly and at a market rent or price.
So let’s go back to the matter of ‘signs’. Here are some tips to using this marketing tool effectively for building your profile individually and for the brokerage.
- Do a ‘sign count’ each weekend so you know exactly your position in the market with listings and board visibility. This monitoring process also gets you into your territory on a regular basis so it helps with market awareness. The best time to do the ‘count’ is on a weekend when traffic and access is easy. For some brokers this is first thing on Sunday morning.
- Understand the regulations that apply to the placement and approval of boards on properties. Some local councils or municipalities will have regulations that set some rules to stick to.
- Have a contractor check your signs weekly for vandalism or weather damage. Nothing detracts more from a listing than a damaged sign.
- On any quality listing and particularly any exclusive listing, the board cost should be covered by the vendor paid marketing fees. On that basis the board should be specially created for the listing and the location.
- Use ‘dot points’ on the sign so the features of the property are easily read and captured by passing traffic.
- Put a reference of the property on the board so the person reading the information can call you and quote a reference number to take you immediately to the listing information. Be prepared to take telephone enquiries about a property at any time (that includes weekends).
- Size does matter in this type of property marketing. Understand the best legal size for the board and its placement strategy. Face the board to the passing traffic.
- When you place a board on a property, directly contact all surrounding businesses and property owners. A new listing is an excuse to talk to many people in the area.
Respect the opportunity in marketing that this sign strategy offers you. It is silent and yet so effective. All quality listings should feature a great signage marketing solution.
As part of your commercial real estate activity, you should research your property market at least quarterly and preferably monthly. On that basis you can project what sale and leasing activity is currently underway and what will occur over the coming foreseeable future. Essentially you are looking for listing opportunity, growth of commission, and new business. You are also looking to reduce any threats from industry downturn or change.
It really doesn’t matter whether you are working as an individual sales agent, or as part of a commercial real estate team. The same rules and processes apply when it comes to researching your market. You need to know what’s going on and you do need to set some specific strategies in place to help you capture the right levels of new business.
Here are some ideas to merge into your commercial real estate market research. After gathering the information, you can apply the findings to your personal business plan.
- Determine the geographic zone where you will get most of your new business from. That will be an area where you can focus almost all of your marketing and prospecting. It can also be an area which allows you to survey and research current activity. This then becomes your primary area of focus that should produce 75% of your listing and commission income opportunity. The other 25% of business will come from outside of the zone, or alternatively referral and repeat business.
- Given that you know where the business is now going to be coming from, determine the best customer demographics set that will apply to your prospecting model. Normally you will be focusing on local business proprietors, property investors, and industry professionals. On a street by street and property by property basis, it is necessary to research these people and make the direct contact. The direct contact will involve cold calling, door knocking, and direct mail.
- Research the history of sales and leasing activity in your local area. The critical zone of activity will be over the last five years. Create a graph from the numbers that you identify. Look for the peaks and troughs when it comes to seasonal sales and leasing activity. Determine if there are any opportunities and changes on the horizon.
- Review the supply and demand projections for commercial, industrial, and retail property in your target area over the coming three years. As part of that process you can visit the local planning office and regularly update yourself with changes to the development plan and or new projects coming up. Look for those changes that could impact the market. Seize on the opportunities early before other agents find them.
- Do a competitor analysis throughout your region. Some agencies will be better than others when it comes to results and market share.. Some agents will be more effective than others. Look for the differences with the successful people, and then determine how they have achieved their market share and dominance. Successful agents leave clues as to process and system. This can be replicated.
- Do an Internet advertising count of all the listings currently available for sale or for lease with your competitors. This should be on an agency and or salesperson basis.
- Do a signboards count all the listings currently available for sale or for lease. This should again be on an agency and salesperson basis.
- Assess the factors of time on market when it comes to those properties that remain outstanding, unsold, or vacant.
- Look at the factors of marketing that apply to current listings in your local area. Look at the differences across all agencies in marketing when it comes to open listings and exclusive listings. Can you do anything more effectively and differently than the other agents?
Given your local property market, and property specialty, you may very well be able to add something to the list. You can now see the importance of understanding what is going on currently in your local area and how it can impact your future promotional activity.
As an agent in commercial and retail property, you need to understand your local property market comprehensively and fully. In achieving this level of focus, you will find opportunities for leasing, sales, and property management.
The commercial property market is largely based on relationships. When you get to know a lot of people locally, the listings and opportunities start to evolve. That being said, these clients and prospects do need to trust you as the top agent of choice in the local area.
Here are some tips to help you get to know your local property market at the appropriate level.
- You will need to maintain a database of contact information. This is not something you should delegate to another person in the office. The fact of the matter is that the database is your foundation of business and goodwill. When you take personal ownership of your database, the information becomes more meaningful and relevant. On a daily basis you should be frequently moving in and out of your database to make calls and capture information. This then says that you will require the necessary computer information and computer hardware to do the job correctly.
- Split your area into zones of priority. Some of those areas will be very active and desirable from a business and client perspective. Review those areas so that you can understand and quote the levels of activity to the right people when you are presenting or pitching your services.
- Your property precinct, suburb, town, or city will have a property history that is real and relevant to your activities today. You should identify the types of sales, types of leases, time on market, levels of enquiry, and region demographics. That information should be relative to the last five years and be particularly accurate over the last two years. These figures will show you trends of opportunity and change. Top agents seize the opportunity and move their market focus as required.
- Get copies of the local development plans as they apply to commercial and retail property. Understand the differences between the property zonings and the property locations. A property location or zoning can have significant impact on the listing and marketing of any property.
- The supply and demand for commercial and retail property will change throughout the year. An oversupply of space will saturate the market with excessive vacancies and empty properties. You can stay ahead of this change by monitoring the new property developments that are being considered at the local council or municipality. Whilst a new property developments are an opportunity for listings and fees, they can also skew the market when it comes to pricing, rentals, and incentives.
- Check all the listings locally that are held with other agents and with private owners. Over time some of those listings will be an opportunity for change and perhaps listing with your agency. Whilst they remain available for sale or for lease today, they will give you an indication of what prices and rentals are doing.
- Network into your area on a daily basis. This means making the necessary cold calls and dropping into local businesses on a daily basis. Through this personal contact you will generate opportunity and fresh listings. Top agents are very visible to the local community of business owners and property investors.
You can’t win many listings by sitting at your desk. Desk time is actually downtime. You should only be sitting at your desk to make the necessary cold calls or to have meetings with the right people. Every other part of the day should be outside of the office meeting with people and checking on properties.
Many commercial real estate agents today will still escalate the listing price by 5 to 10 per cent above market, and in doing so will explain to the property owner that it will give the property owner some room to negotiate when offers are made. The reality of the situation is that the overpriced listing will create little enquiry. Three or four weeks later the agent and the client will be sitting down to discuss price modification and changes to marketing. What a waste of time!
As the local commercial real estate expert do not escalate the listing price on this basis. It is a very bad mistake at a time when the market has limited enquiry and therefore fewer buyers for you to work with.
The listing price should be the right price based on market evidence and prevailing market conditions. The client needs to understand what those things are. They have come to you as the expert agent and on that basis you should give them the real facts as they exist today before the listing is taken.
Placing a price or negotiation buffer above the asking price for the property will set a false set of values in the ownership ‘mindset’ at the time of listing. At the very start of the listing made on this basis, the owner will assume that they will still get the offers and therefore the required asking price. In a slower property market, this fact is far from the truth. Things do come down in price, and the vendor needs help in understanding that.
So here are some strategies for handling unrealistic vendors with highly priced properties:
- Deal with the issue immediately when you know that this is to be the case. Tell the client exactly what the market is like and show them the competing properties that they are up against. Provide differences when it comes to improvements and market enquiry for each listing type. Show them the amount of enquiry that is coming in currently.
- Most clients or property owners will believe that their property is the best in the area and therefore of greater value than any other property. Understand that they have owned this property for a number of years and their thinking has been shaped by that direct and lengthy ownership. Unless the property is extremely unique, average prices will apply and the average offers will only come in.
- Buyers will rarely pay a premium for a property unless it is extremely unique and highly desirable. Around 90% of properties taken to the market today are only average and nothing unusual from a buyer perspective. The clients that you work with need to see this and adjust their price accordingly. That is where your skills as an expert agent are highly desirable in negotiating the listing at the right price and method of sale. Don’t forget to get some reasonable vendor paid marketing as part of the process!
- Ask the client to set some priorities when it comes to time on market, and successful sales result. If you are going to take on a highly priced listing, you will need their agreement to making a price reduction and adjustment within a few short weeks of the campaign. Tell them at the time of listing that this is what you will require to prevent the listing becoming stale on the market.
- Every inspecting prospect taken to the property should complete a ‘comments form’ that you can give to the client regards the inspection undertaken. Any property that is overpriced will soon be identified through the comments provided by these inspecting potential prospects. This will then make it a lot easier for you to condition the property owner at the time of required price reduction.
- Every bit of marketing undertaken for the property should be assessed and analyzed. Compare the marketing and response for your particular listing against the other listings in the local area and those in your agency records. You will soon be able to identify to the client the response differences between their highly priced property and those other properties that are more suitably priced.
- Show the client the differences in marketing results and inspection results. You cannot sell a property unless you have an enquiry. Highly priced properties really create enquiry. They also kill their own market within a very short period of time.
All of these facts would suggest that you should not waste your time with a property listing that is well above market. Set your rules when it comes to working with clients of this type. Be prepared to walk away from a listing that is too highly priced. It is better for you to work on committed clients and realistically priced listings.
When it comes to the marketing of commercial property today, the focus that you create through the campaign will help you build the enquiry rate and the inspection profile. It directly follows that a well-constructed campaign will give you a lot of leads and opportunities, regardless of the current and existing property market.
The fact of the matter is that far too many commercial properties are generically promoted and advertised. The features of each and every property should be identified and optimized in each marketing campaign. Those features should consistently flow through all elements of the marketing campaign.
Here are some tips to help the strategy behind your next marketing effort and property listing.
- What are the best days of the week to advertise commercial property locally? To some degree, the answer will depend on the attributes of the property and the target market. Commonly it is found that property marketing is more effective between the days of Wednesday to Saturday on a weekly basis. The fact of the matter is that you should know what days are better for your property promotion activity.
- Defining the target market will help you with the layout of the advertising campaign, the features to be promoted, and the channels of media that you want to use. In most cases, the Internet will be high on the list of marketing alternatives. It is both convenient and economical to use the Internet as part of the campaign; to gain maximum penetration on Internet based adverts use keywords associated with the property type and location. You can get these keywords from search engine research on a weekly or monthly basis. In that way you will stay ahead of the enquiry trends to the search engines and utilise the correct words as part of your advertising format. Most people enquiring regards properties for sale or for lease will go to the Internet first before they lift the telephone and talk to local property agent. Keyword optimization will help you with your enquiry rates from each property listed on the Internet.
- Professional photographs are critical when it comes to property promotion. If you want your advertisement to stand out efficiently and effectively, devote part of the vendor paid advertising campaign to professional photographs. Professional photographers know when to take the photographs, and how to make the property features stand out.
- Inspection feedback to the property owner should occur after every property inspection. This is both a conditioning process and also a communication advantage when it comes to helping the client see the trends of the local property market today, and how they will need to adjust their thoughts on price or rent as the case may be. This naturally assumes that you are getting inspections from your advertising. If this is not the case, have a serious look at your property promotional strategy and revisit the plan for any modifications that can occur. There are reasons why enquiries do not come to you. Resolve those reasons quickly and effectively at the earliest possible time in any property promotion.
- Test and measure every marketing campaign on a twice weekly basis. This will normally be on a Wednesday and a Friday. Observe the results that you get from every media channel and property advertisement. Test and measure the layouts together with the placement of media. In your location, some promotional processes will be more effective than others when it comes to commercial and retail property. Make the right choices, and the enquiry will come to you regularly and directly.
When the property market is slow and tough, the marketing process becomes even more critical. Every property listing that is exclusively promoted should be subjected to scrutiny and strategy throughout the entire campaign. In this way you will be a top agent producing the best results from every listing on your books.
In commercial real estate today, it pays to undertake the necessary market study before you open the commercial real estate office for trading. Preparation will help you attract the right market of clients and prepare the right resources to drive your business forward. Your marketing plan should form part of your business plan.
A successful commercial real estate office will be built from a fine balance of resources, and the right people. Regrettably is somewhat hard to get good people to work in the industry at a high level for a long period of time. It is notable that there are fewer top agents in comparison to ordinary agents. The ratio is probably 2 in 10.
This leaves the opportunity wide open for ordinary agents to move to the top of the industry providing they establish solid performance systems. The proprietors of real estate agencies and businesses require top agents to give stability to the agency and grow the commission base. Whilst it sounds obvious, it is harder to achieve. The proprietors of commercial real estate agencies are always on the lookout for top agents or those people that can be shaped into that level of performance. It takes a person with a particular mindset and drive.
Here are some tips to establishing your marketing plan for your commercial real estate office:
- Determine the size of your market geographically. Ensure that the area is realistically comprised of quality properties and potential clients. Within that region, you can identify the history of transactions over the last few years. Ideally you will be looking for an area that is under change or expansion. Given that the commercial real estate industry is based around local business occupancy, you should also incorporate the review of local businesses into your initial market study. Look for an area that has a vibrant business identity and future. Look for an area that has an abundance of quality properties or vacant land to be so. Look for and area that is growing or active.
- Within your defined territory, identify the property types that will produce the necessary commission for your business. It may be that those properties require staff specialisation. That is certainly the case when it comes to retail property and retail leasing.
- It is somewhat easier to build a new commercial real estate office from a base of industrial property sales and leasing. That is simply because the property type is basic and straightforward. It is also easier for you to apply relatively inexperienced staff to that property type. Over time they can then graduate into Office Property and eventually Retail Property if that strategy seems suitable and the market opportunity exists.
- The size of local properties will dictate the size of commission. That being said, it is necessary to target the right quality listings in the right locations from the moment that you open your doors as an agency. Exclusive listings will produce better quality commissions over time. Initially you may find it hard to encourage exclusive listings, although the attempt should not be overlooked. Initially you will probably need to accept open listings and have your salespeople work on that general stock. When you eventually achieve greater market churn and success, it will be easier to convert exclusive listings given that you will then have a track record.
- Undertake a competitor analysis throughout the region. Some of those competitors will be more successful than others. Identify the reasons for that success and determine the points of difference relative to each agency and salesperson. How will your agency compete against those competitors? What can your agency do as part of attracting new business? How can you pitch for listings against the established local agencies?
So these are some key ideas that can be merged into your commercial real estate marketing plan. Other local area factors should also be considered and merged into the plan.
Before you open the doors of your new real estate office, ensure that you are fully aware of the strategy that needs to be implemented and the staff involved in the process. You can then create your staff attraction process to find the right people for the business.