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Don’t Be Short Sighted When Evaluating Commercial Brokerage Relationships

August 11th, 2014

I was speaking with a coaching students today who was struggling with a decision about whether or not to bring a current listing with her to her new firm. The listing was a leasing assignment for the last remaining space within a 36,000 square foot office building. That space consisted of 2,700 square feet. All lease renewals for the remaining occupied space were not included in the assignment. My student explained to me that the building owner was a large REIT and they required extensive reporting on the progress of the iStock_000001958451XSmallmarketing for the space which my student was required to do on a weekly basis. She explained how time consuming the reporting was and that the client had expressed some dissatisfaction with the signage and marketing materials that were produced by her marketing department. As you’ve probably guessed, she was struggling with whether or not it was “worth it” to take on all of this time consuming work for such a small assignment (which of course carried with it a relatively small fee).

How do you see this situation and what would you do? The real question to ask is “what is the desired payoff for all of the time and effort required of this assignment”? Many commercial real estate agents would calculate the potential commission and immediately come to the conclusion that the fee simply does not justify the time investment required by the client. Focusing strictly on the paycheck that correlates with successfully closing the transaction is very short sighted. Keep in mind who the client is. The client is a large REIT who is a significant player in the market. If you have never tried to cold call a REIT, make a meaningful contact and/or build a working relationship that earns enough trust to win an assignment, let me tell you it is no easy task. My student is already past all of that and has the assignment. Now all she needs to do is leverage this seemingly small, time consuming assignment into a long term relationship that will open the door to much greater opportunities with this client, hopefully for years to come.

Commercial real estate brokerage is about relationships, pure and simple. Unlike residential brokerage where your clients may utilize your services for a transaction once or at best every 7 to 10 years, commercial agents have the opportunity to become an integral part of their clients’ ongoing business year after year. Fortunately, my coaching student understands this. She has reached out to the client and offered to take the assignment with her to the new firm. To further bolster the client relationship, she informed the client that she would be providing design samples for new signage and new marketing materials for their approval. Included in her required weekly reporting, she will begin providing relevant market research reports and other market intelligence. She is now focused on building value in the relationship. Demonstrating your value proposition to the client on a regular basis means putting in the work now to reap the rewards long term. There is a reasonable likelihood that the REIT will consider selling the asset at some point. They may wish to purchase another asset in the same market. The asset may experience more vacancy in the future which will need to be leased up. The key is to build the trust and the relationship so that you are putting yourself, as the agent, in the best possible position to win that client’s business. That means bringing value to that client that exceeds the expectations that they may have for any given assignment….no matter how small.

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