Many people think that the life of a commercial real estate broker is easy. Perhaps some people even join the industry assuming that is the case. The reality of the industry is far and away from those assumptions. The top agents in the market work really hard and do so to a definite plan or system.
When you put in the effort individually, you will get results. The efforts applied should be specific to the property type and the location; in other words you do need to do the right things each and every day and systemise the process. That is exactly what the top agents do.
Here are some cold hard facts regards the industry:
- Commissions – looked at in isolation, the commissions that we earn can be quite large. For most property transactions and listings however real strategy and effort is required to attract a successful outcome in any sale or lease. As large as the commissions may seem, they don’t come easily. If you want significant income, you need to work hard.
- Hours of work – the hours of work are variable and sometimes quite long. It is not unusual to be negotiating a contract or a lease later into the evening, across the weekend, or early one morning. The business is out there to be done providing you are flexible enough to do the work of any time of day.
- Property knowledge – property knowledge will have a big impact on your inspections and negotiations. It will also help you significantly when it comes to the listing process. On that basis you will really need to know a lot about the local area, the property type, and the current levels of enquiry.
- Personal marketing – whilst you may work for a well-known brokerage or agency, you must market yourself each and every day to the right people in the right way. On that basis every agent or broker should have a specific prospecting and networking program underway.
- Prospecting – it should be said quite clearly that prospecting is not easy. It is required business skill that takes practice and improvement. Simply lifting the telephone or door knocking on the business will not be very successful without the necessary practice factors. Build some prospecting practice into your business day prior to getting into the office.
- Negotiation – negotiation skills are something you learn over time. Every landlord, seller, buyer, and tenant will have different factors of leverage and requirements when it comes to property negotiation. As the agent or the broker to the deal, your advantage will be in seeing those factors of leverage and the requirements that can be satisfied. That is how a good negotiator works.
- Inspection – the inspection of a property will happen for a number of reasons and preparation is required. Every listing will have strengths and weaknesses impacting the inspection process. Your job is to use them or work through them to achieve the best result. That is where property knowledge and local market information will be of high value.
- Documentation – some property lease and sales situations are very complex. Expert information and assistance will be required when it comes to complex transactions. Make sure that every contract or lease that you create is correctly designed for the property and the client’s situation.
- Database – your database will be the most important business tool that you have available. Spend time every day connecting with people within the database and adding new people to the process. Over time the database will give you plenty of leads, and referral opportunities. From the database you can create a specialised list of VIP clients and prospects.
Looking at all of these things, you can see how important the commitment and the skills of the agent will be to their progress in the industry. They say that nothing really comes easy; certainly that is the case in commercial real estate brokerage. Be prepared to put in the hours and improve your skills over time. That is how you can be a very successful agent in the industry.
In commercial real estate brokerage, what do your customers look like, where are they located, and what do they want from you? Why would they contact you? They are interesting questions; when you know the answers, you have the central focus of your prospecting model.
One of the biggest mistakes in commercial real estate is for an agent or a broker to prospect generically over a large area with little focus. The prospecting message then becomes clouded and non-specific. A message of that type will have little attraction to the target audience of local property investors and business owners. So it is clear that a few decisions need to be made regards the clients and prospects that you want to work with. I like to call it a ‘customer commonality’ process.
To get some direction with your customer focus and prospecting model, consider the following ideas and topics. See how they can be merged into your client contact systems:
- The best prospecting model involves personal follow up and contact. Anything that you send out by way of correspondence, marketing, or brochures, needs to be followed up with a telephone call. It directly follows that your letters sent and brochures dispatched should be in suitable numbers for new personal contact and follow through. The process should be repeated every 30 or 60 days.
- Understand the activities in the market today. What pressures are occurring on property owners and business leaders? Where can you offer the best levels of assistance and professional service? In a town or a city, there are likely to be a number of answers to these questions. For that reason you should consider separate prospecting models and messages for different market segments and different market locations.
- Review your area geographically so that you can split your prospecting efforts up into groups of buildings, groups of properties, and types of people. This then helps you significantly with the marketing message and central prospecting concept. It is quite clear that a generic prospecting letter is of little use and is highly likely to be put into the rubbish bin rather quickly. To lessen this chance of any failure factor, make your marketing messages quite specific and of interest and value to the person that you are connecting with. Provide some information regards the market, recent listings, prices, rentals, or industry changes. Whilst keeping the letter or the correspondence simple, a few dot points will capture the interest of the reader.
- When you break your customer base up into a number of market segments, you will see that there are common factors and leads to be exploited. They may be associated with market trends, property activity, regional changes, and transport issues, property zoning, and planning matters. When something happens regionally that can have impact on property owners and occupants, you have an opportunity to make direct contact with your database in a relevant and real way. That’s what professional prospecting is all about.
In saying all of these things, it is wise for you to focus on a particular property type within a location. In that way you can relate specifically and accurately to the variations in price, rental, market interest, and the supply of new stock. The commercial real estate industry is not difficult; however it does require specific focus and property speciality.
It is a fact that the commercial real estate market today is under some pressure and is also highly competitive. For you to be successful in your career in the industry, you will need a plan of action and a tracking mechanism to understand what’s working and what needs to change in your business model. Notice I said ‘your business model’? Most agents and brokers don’t have one! They simply let the days pass with little focus and random action. That is a recipe for losing business over time.
The commercial property industry is not all that different from city to city, state to state, and country to country. The property problems are all similar and simply need understanding. Taking direct action in your market every day will help you see the opportunities to work on and the clients to serve.
Having worked in the industry for some time, I have seen three distinct mistakes made by the majority of brokers and agents in the industry. Some of those agents eventually adjust and resolve their mistakes, whilst others overlook them to the detriment of their market share.
So what exactly what are these three all too common mistakes? How can you deal with them? Here are some ideas:
- The most common mistake made by all brokers and agents centres on prospecting. They simply fail to develop a prospecting plan that they can work to every day in a consistent way. They let the pressures of the day overtake their diary and business activities. Soon prospecting becomes item number 8 in a list of 10 issues. Inevitably the broker or agent never gets to the prospecting process in a regular way. If you want to rise to the top of your industry and generate reasonable market share, you will need a prospecting process that you can work to every day. Prospecting should be item 1 in your diary.
- Success in the industry is largely built on established relationships with key people. Whilst a prospecting model as mentioned earlier can drive more new people towards you, you do need to establish ongoing contact in a consistent and relevant way. When you first connect with new property owners and property investors, most of them will not have an immediate need for selling or leasing. That will however change over time, and you need to be there for the moment where experience and property expertise will be needed. Most top agents in the industry win the new business due to establish relationships built over many years.
- Marketing processes will vary from property to property and city to city. That being said, your marketing processes should be specific and special; they need to stand out around all the other agent generic advertising. When a client or prospect picks up the newspaper or reviews the Internet, they need to see your advertising and property listings as special and unique within the property type. A property listing that is well marketed will attract many other clients to you over time. Build your marketing skills to increase the brokerage profile with the property speciality. Improve your marketing skills to show the people in the industry of your relevance.
These three simple factors will have a lot to do with your success as an agent or a broker. Choose to improve each of them at each and every opportunity. Stand out as the top agent that you want to be. Be prepared to go that little bit further in all three of the categories.
The commercial property market is a challenge at the best of times. There are plenty of things to do when it comes to commercial brokerage and agency. Each and every day a certain number of hours should be devoted to the prospecting process. That activity will be at a personal level for any agent or broker.
It stands to reason that a good broker will have a successful prospecting model to encourage new clients and listings in a regular way. The earlier that agents and brokers move towards this planning process and its implementation, the faster they move up the ranks of the market with listings and commissions.
Here are some tips to help you with the prospecting process that should be applied to office, industrial, or retail property. Given your local market conditions, you can add to the list as appropriate:
- Understand the activities of the market over the last two or three years. As the market been attracting activity or has it been contracting? It is best to work within a market that has growth and opportunity. It is best to work with property types that have a future.
- Many brokerages employ agents on the assumption that the agents will bring in the required new sales and leasing business. Certainly that is the case to a degree; it should however be observed that a good real estate brokerage will have generic marketing strategies and material to help the agents with their daily prospecting activities. An agent or a broker with little or no support from their principal will struggle.
- It is critical that a broker or an agent get signboards into their territory as soon as possible. Those signboards should be on exclusive listings. Signboard presence will always help local market profile and encourage inbound telephone calls. On that basis you can build your database.
- The Internet today offers significant opportunity when it comes to business profile and property marketing. Every brokerage or agency should have a substantial business website to promote sales and leasing listings. The brokerage should always be updating the website with the latest technology tools to capture inbound enquiries. A database portal is part of that process.
- Set aside 2 hours per day to contact new people through the local area. The easiest way to do that is through a consistent and professional cold calling process. When you have connected with a number of people across the telephone, you can move out into the marketplace and door knock a number of businesses and property owners. Personal contact in our market today is really important.
- Every new property listing will give you an opportunity to talk to many other property owners and businesses in the same location. Every successful transaction will give you further reasons to connect with the market place. Use your existing listings and exclusive listings to connect with the property market.
In looking at these activities, it is easy to see that the involvement of the agent or broker at a personal level is critical. Momentum is required every day to establish a good prospecting model to convert more listings and commissions.
In commercial real estate brokerage, you will have plenty of challenges when it comes to finding quality listings and good clients. In most locations, towns and cities, the competition is fierce when it comes to commercial real estate agents. On that basis you really do need to have an effective prospecting model to implement at an individual level.
It should be said that most brokers and agents don’t do this very well. On that basis the opportunities are significant if you can create and stick to a good prospecting model. Create a habit around prospecting.
Here are some proven and highly effective prospecting and networking tips when it comes to agents or brokers winning new clients in commercial real estate today. Compare these to your current strategies:
- Stick to a defined area when it comes to targeting properties and clients. On a street by street basis you can move through the region and research the necessary property ownership details and business proprietors. Don’t spread yourself too thinly when it comes to large areas and diverse property types. Specialization will help you with finding listings and growing property knowledge.
- Devote 3 hours per day to the prospecting process. The cold calling process should occur first thing every morning prior to any meetings or property inspections. Make a priority to get your cold calls done prior to 11 am. Your meetings and property inspections can occur after that time.
- Split your prospecting time into two distinct segments. The first segment will be those people that you have spoken to before. Regular contact here will allow you to tap into the opportunity when those people are ready to make a sale or a lease transaction. The second group that you should speak to will be those that are totally new to your database. Feed your database with fresh contacts and opportunities with new people.
- Track the results that you get from all of your prospecting activities. Understand how your ratios are improving between outbound calls, meetings created, presentations made, and listings converted.
- Understand the differences between open and exclusive listings. As a general priority, you should be targeting exclusive listings at every opportunity. On that basis, track the numbers of listings in each case. Show the client the differences in time on market when it comes to open listings and exclusive listings.
- Any property that is converted to a listing should be packaged for the current market conditions. As you get results and feedback from inspections, you can make clear recommendations to the client regards pricing and marketing. Over a period of weeks, the repackaging of a listing can increase inspection and negotiation opportunity.
So there are some very definite things that can be done to improve your listing conversions and commission opportunities. The secret to making all of this work is to create a personal system of prospecting that you stick to every day. Refine your activities to the current market conditions, and soon you will see the conversions you require.