Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"It's Your Business" an Interview with Jan Norman

I provide location advice to owners and occupants of

industrial buildings in Southern California. As frequent

readers of this blog know, I attribute some of my local

business articles to Jan Norman of the Orange County Register. You can read her blog (which is the entry point for most of her columns and stories). I had the privilege to sit and talk with Jan last week about her career and the subjects of some of her articles. I hope you enjoy the information.

Location Advice visits It's Your Business:

What do NRGTek, Succession Strategies, John Barry and Associates, Kelly Moore, and Allied Modular Systems have in common? They have all been recently featured in the Orange County Register's It's Your Business, a business column authored by Jan Norman. What do Location Advice and It's Your Business have in common? Location Advice has taken the opportunity to meet every one of these column subjects. Jan agreed to meet with me last week and discuss synergies. Many of the owners and occupants that I represent have a human interest angle that could portend future columns. I found Jan to be energetic, forthcoming, and genuinely interested in our conversation. I enjoyed getting to know her background and believe you will enjoy getting to know her as well. Jan is originally from Phoenix Arizona and attended Arizona State University. Jan moved to Southern California and started her Register career in 1981. Chris Anderson's (former Register Editor) vision was a stand alone business section that would compete with the Los Angeles Times. In 1984, the vision became reality and Jan moved to the business section. Throughout her business writing career, Jan's topics have varied from Technology, to Real Estate, to Retail, and finally to "It's Your Business" and coverage of small businesses and entrepreneurs in 1988. IYB focuses upon closely held local companies with 1-100s of employees. I encourage you to read the column and look for future collaboration between IYB and Location Advice!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Much Does it Cost to Originate a Lease?

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. Location advice recently considered the much does it cost to originate a lease. This is important to know when considering whether to renew an occupant at a reduced rate. "Blend and Extend" is a term that didn't exist until the last couple of years. Now virtually all occupants...especially those with leases that originated within the last four years, are looking to reduce occupancy costs in return for a lease extension. Should an owner consider this? In order to answer the question, you must understand what the cost to originate a lease would be. We will assume to be discussing a 20,000 sf industrial building with 10% office finish.
Market Rent:
At the baseline of the analysis, what is the market rent for your building? Not a "puffed up" review of asking rates in the area, but a true blue, no nonsense, "what has recently leased in my size range with identical (if available) amenities?" Is the rent trend on the up-swing or decline? Does my building have anything that makes it unique (in a positive or negative way) in the market...excess land, excess power, proximity to freeways, special purpose improvements, etc. A competent location advisor should be able to provide this information for you as an owner at no cost to you. For purposes of this analysis, let us assume that the market rent for your building is $.50 psf per month or $6.00 annually on an industrial gross basis. You will receive $10,000 per month for the first year. Presumably this rate will increase throughout the term of the lease at a 2.5% annual increase. Total for the term will be $638,254...$.531 psf per month.
Down Time and "Lost Opportunity":
If your building became vacant, how long (to achieve a market rent) would your building lay fallow
until the next occupant could be located. For our purposes, let us assume that the building would sit vacant for four months. The lost opportunity rent would be $40,000. The actual lost rent would be the debt service plus the operating expenses during the down time. We will use "opportunity rent" for our example.
Free ?? Rent:
Generally, a new occupant will ask and receive some sort of rent abatement as a move-in concession. Notice that I used the term "abated rent". I would encourage owners to classify the rent concession as abated and not free. Most leases allow a recapture of "abated rent" in the case of a tenant default...but not a recapture of the "free rent". The amount of the rent abatement is dependent upon market conditions, length of lease, credit worthiness of the occupant, etc. Abated rent can also be used to inflate the coupon rate of the lease...keep in mind the effective rate will be less. For the purpose of our analysis, let us assume that the occupant is interested in a five year lease and the market conditions, credit worthiness, and term warrant four months of abated rent. Abated Rent of $40,000.
Tenant Improvements:
Will the new occupant require any tenant improvements? For any office deal, this is a given. An industrial deal...not so defined. As any rate the building will need to be prepped for the new occupant...paint and carpet. If special purpose improvements are needed, a savvy occupant will ask that the space be delivered "turn key" with the cost, risk, and occupancy permitting assigned to the owner. For our purposes, let us assume that the improvements will be minimal...paint and carpet for the office area only in an industrial deal...$3.00 psf of office space. $6,000 of Tenant Improvements.
Brokerage Commissions:
Commissions vary by market and by market conditions. In Southern California, EVERY office deal carries a full commission to the occupant's broker PLUS a per square foot bonus. The industrial commissions are generally 4%. This percentage is paid on the TOTAL CONSIDERATION of the of any abated rent. The owner must also consider paying his representative (the listing broker). Let's assume a 6% fee for locating and securing a new occupant. Total Commission of $638,254 x 6% = $38,295.
Based upon the assumptions, the cost to originate a new occupant lease would be $124,295!! An owner will receive the $638,254 over the five year term but will spend approximately 20% of this amount in origination fees and lost opportunity costs.
Back to the question of reduced rent in return for an extended term...certainly!! If...the occupant is reasonable in his request and the reduction in rent can be justified compared to the cost to originate a new lease. An occupant will save by renewing at his present location in other ways...avoidance of moving costs, avoidance of employee disruption, avoidance of business disruption, etc. These cost issues can be used to "add back" to the owner's side of the negotiations.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Five "Gotcha" Issues that All Occupants Should Negotiate

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. Approximately 3/4 of my activity is in leasing and lease renegotiation...either on behalf of a landlord (owner) or tenant (occupant). In my experience there at least five "gotcha" issues that should be addressed in any lease agreement. In my layman's opinion, The AIR lease addresses these issues quite thoroughly...with a few tweaks. In the case of an owner generated lease, the issues vary in their treatment. The five issues are: Operating Expenses; Capital Expenditures; Subordination, Non-Disturbance, and Attornment (SNDA); Rent Increases, and Miscellaneous. I will define each issue, and suggest "asks" during the lease negotiation. This is a layman's review as a CRE practitioner and should not alleviate the need to have all legal documents reviewed by counsel. These issues are from a California perspective and may vary by state.

Operating Expenses (Industrial):

Operating expenses, also known as Op Exes are the expenses that an owner incurs in the operation of a property. These expenses include, but may not be limited to, property taxes; property insurance; maintenance of the foundation, roof, and walls; landscape maintenance; maintenance of the building's, electrical, HVAC, etc.; utilities; occupants share of the amortized capital expenditures, etc. The costs are sometimes referred to as NNN expenses or "gross-ups". These expenses vary greatly based upon an owner's management preferences but are largely skewed by the amount of property taxes. If you negotiate a NNN lease, the costs are paid in addition to your rent...either as due or monthly. If the lease is an industrial gross lease, the base year op exes are included in the base rent. I suggest postponing the base year until the first full year after the commencement of the lease. If the lease commences in February, this is a tough ask. If the lease commences in October...not so much. I suggest asking for a cap on the increases in op exes over the base year.

Capital Expenditures:

Capital Expenditures are expenses that are largely non recurring such as roof replacement, parking lot replacement, drive and landscape modifications, etc. I suggest there be a mechanism in the lease to specify that any expense that exceeds 50% of the cost to replace a capital system (roof), be the responsibility of the owner and the cost be amortized over 12 years at an agreeable rate of interest.

Subordination, Non Disturbance, and Attornment:

This is defined as the financing holder's means of securing their interest and the outcome of any foreclosure. Also known as an SNDA, this clause causes the lease to be subordinate to existing and future financing that is placed on the property. As a tenant, a request that the lease be non-disturbed (terms not modified), should be sought in return that the tenant agrees to attorn (recognize) an owner that becomes the owner through the foreclosure of the underlying debt. Requiring ALL of these is important in my opinion...especially during economic times that could suggest a high likelihood of foreclosure. I suggest that the lease clearly provide for ALL of the components...S, ND, and A, and that where possible the lender be persuaded to sign an SNDA recognizing the lease.

Rent Increases:

These are defined as increases in the rental schedule during the term of the lease. Generally the increases are throughout the term of the lease and could vary based upon the change that occurs in the CPI or some other index. Caps and Floors are always suggested to hedge against a rampant inflationary increase.


Former and existing cabling removal, ADA requirements (and who is responsible), city permitting, subleasing and assigning, rent abatement vs FREE rent, and options to extend and purchase should all be carefully vetted and when necessary, negotiated.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CRE and Social Media, The Early Promoters

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. An Urban Land Institute panel discussion and a recent post by Joseph Clem entitled "Who Says Commercial Real Estate isn't a Social Media Industry?" spurred a thought...Who are the early promoters with respect to Social Media and Commercial Real Estate? I believe that I am an early promoter of social media marketing with commercial real estate. I blog, use Facebook personally and for business, Tweet, actively manage and engage with my LinkedIn connections, use Plaxo to send birthday cards, promote my listings with You Tube, QR codes, etc. I am one of the only CRE practitioners in Southern California to consistently adopt social media. The purpose of this post is to highlight several of my colleagues who, in my opinion, are also early promoters of social medial marketing and commercial real estate AND do a great job of adding value to the social media community. The three practitioners, two of whom I have connected with on-line, are Coy Davidson, Duke Long, and Randy Mason. Each of these practitioners treat their content seriously and approach their posts in different ways.
Coy Davidson, Colliers International, Houston, Texas:
In my opinion, if you want to see someone who is "doing it right", check out Coy Davidson! I selfishly use Coy's methods to pattern my efforts in Social Media. Coy author's a blog entitled The Tenant Advisor and another entitled Social Media CRE . Both are filled with content and timely information.
Duke Long, Realty Executives, Lafayette, Indiana:
Duke's posts are edgy, controversial and refreshing! I thoroughly enjoy Duke's "tell it like it is...not like you want to hear it" approach to commercial real estate advice. Duke blogs under the title Ramblings of a Commercial Real Estate Broker. Thanks Duke for providing some chuckles and some friendly reminders that the business is not that is about the relationships!
Randolph (Randy) T. Mason, Lee and Associates, Irvine, California:
Randy and I have been personal friends and colleagues within our company, Lee and Associates Commercial Real Estate Services for almost twenty years. I met Randy in 1994 when he asked me to assist him in securing some business in Anaheim, California. We were successful and I was impressed by the energy, enthusiasm, and "out-of-the-box thinking" that Randy possessed before "out-of-the-box" thinking was fashionable. Randy has embraced all avenues of social media marketing. I am especially impressed with Randy's use of video on his blog entitled, Orange County Commercial Real Estate Experts, OCCREE. In Randy's "Ideas to Share" series, he posts video tips on hot real estate topics.
Bravo guys! Keep it coming!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Training...Are You Spending Enough??

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. I recently considered the much do successful companies spend each year on training. The answer astonished me. Successful companies can spend up to 20% of their annual revenue on training. I am passionate about learning, networking, social media marketing and providing my clients with creative solutions in my location advice. This post focuses upon two individuals who provide training. Dave Hibbard from Dialexis and Laura Bruno, a franchise owner with the Referral Institute. I am privileged to know both of these professionals and believe that your company can benefit from knowing their capabilities as well! I hope that you will visit their sites and recommend their services.
Dave Hibbard, Dialexis:
"When our first time clients discover how we achieve results compared to other training organizations they are always impressed. Rather than tell you what we think however, you may appreciate knowing what our family of clients tell us:

Our Material
Our clients like the fact that the information we deliver is based upon real world material. We didn't seek out information from the Internet or our competition or get it from a book and then attempt to sell it as our message. Our work is appreciated because when it is delivered, the audience connects with the background experience of the Dialexis trainer. Everything we represent comes from years of experience not a book. We lived it, it worked and it moves those who follow the formula into the Top20%+.

Our Results
Our clients expect to receive a strong ROI based upon the investment they make in Dialexis training and why shouldn't they! It isn't enough today to simply provide training, receive payment and walk away. Our clients respect what we deliver because it is always attached to an ROI. Measurement of our work is what is expected and as a result, we are held to a high standard of information, delivery, follow up and results. Some of our programs are delivering from 200% to 2000% on our client's initial investment. This return is unmatched in the training industry and we are happy to supply you with the evidence of this claim.

Our Delivery
Having world-class material is one thing, but being able to deliver it with power and high impact is another. The truth is many trainers have interesting material to bring to clients, but lack the ability to deliver it in a compelling manner. Our clients tell us we are unique because we not only train, but also excite. Whether it is a Keynote delivery or a front and center training event, our clients tell us we are the best they have ever experienced.

Our Live Training
Our clients tell us that one of our key differentiators is the fact that we use live techniques during our training. That means if the training is prospecting - we not only teach it in the classroom, but also take it live to the phones and streets! At Dialexis we know that learning has a chance when training is combined with doing. Reach Dave at 949.715.9372"

"The Referral Institute helps business professionals work less, play more, and increase their business revenues by successful word-of-mouth marketing. We accomplish this through training programs that specifically focus on effective networking and quality referrals.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the least expensive and most effective way to grow your business. While we instinctively know this, did you know that there is a proven and effective system available on how to accomplish this? Well there is and we call the program, Referrals for Life. The Referrals for Life curriculum is being offered in over 20 countries and being delivered by over 200 trainers. Laura Bruno is the only Certified Trainer in Southern California and offers the programs in her training center in Temecula and in the San Bernardino and Upland areas.

Please browse our site to learn a more about word-of-mouth marketing as well as effective referral systems available through the Referral Institute. If you find that you are intrigued and want to find out more about out program, check our calendar for our next Referral Success 101 class, and sign up to attend, as this is our introductory workshop or give us a call at 951.699.2558 .We look forward to talking with you and seeing you at our next workshop."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Social Media Blunders...Etiquette 101

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. You may wonder, how does location advice translate to social media blunders? The connection is that I am committed to connecting with my network with social media. As such I utilize a blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, You Tube, etc. Social media is just one component of my marketing efforts, however. But, it is critically important to me that I "play by the rules" in using social media and believe we ALL have a responsibility to behave correctly in the medium.

The premise:

Would you walk into a room full of strangers and shout...Hey I am here, everyone pay attention to me? Maybe you would, but I suspect you wouldn't make many friends or get the attention you are seeking. Would you call friend on the phone and completely dominate the conversation and once they started talking, respond..."I have to go"? If so, my guess is that the friend would screen your call in the future. Would you attend a church event and ask all the parishioners to buy your stuff? I believe that we can all agree that these are "social" blunders. Common decorum would suggest that there are ways in which we behave to avoid becoming a social pariah. My belief is that there are parallels with our use of social media marketing.

Social Media is "Social":

Social Media Marketing is evolving faster that any of us can grasp. Many of us are running so fast and furiously that we blunder in our social media efforts without even realizing it! At its roots, social media is "social" and we create the "media". There are "rules of engagement" which are important to respect if we expect to achieve connections through social media. I found two well written posts on this subject and links to the articles can be read by clicking on the titles. The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook written by Tamar Weinberg and The 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette by Eric Brantner.

Three Rules of My Own:

Listen a great deal more than you talk. Remember the example of walking into a room of strangers and shouting. Make sure that you listen to the threads and only respond when you have something to respectfully add.

Don't say, post, respond to anything on-line differently that you would say, post, or respond to someone face-to-face

Don't sell...provide value. Realize that you may be "selling" in hyper space without knowing that you are selling. The best example of this is to post a request to look at my stuff, "like" my stuff, thanks for the follow...follow my stuff, etc.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Mortgage Meltdown, Part Deaux?

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of manufacturing and distribution buildings in Southern California. Frequent readers of this blog know that I attempt to populate these posts with positive information on timely location issues, clients and trusted partners, companies on the move, networking, training, and social media marketing. This post is not one of a matter of fact, if factual, it is quite scary! I happened across this letter by John Maldin's "Thoughts From the Frontline" that was published on October 15th, 2010. Mr. Maldin, in the letter, asks that "we read the article and if we agree, pass the article along to friends and responsible parties." Although a lengthy and complex read, I would strongly encourage you read, take note...and possibly prepare for the fall out!

You can access the letter by clicking here.

My quick takeaways:

The Ally Financial (formerly GMAC), JP Morgan and now Bank of America delays in processing foreclosures happened for a significant reason.

Only a note holder...not a mortgage holder...there is a difference, can foreclose.

If this doesn't get fixed...and fixed in a hurry...the banking collapse of 2008 will look like a junior prom!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Five Guaranteed Ways to Provide Good Service!

Are you a good service provider? I believe that I am. I provide location advice to owners and occupants of manufacturing and distribution buildings in Southern California.

So what! What differentiates me from my competitors? What differentiates you from your competition? Have you ever been asked this question? If so, how did you respond? I have given the question considerable thought and I believe that in order to be a good service provider, you must possess most or all of the following characteristics.

Experience and Stability:How long have you been in your industry? How long have you been with the same company? Businesses do not enjoy becoming your learning curve. If you are new to your industry or company, consider involving someone within your company with more seniority to assist you in the assignment. Although this involves some revenue sharing, you probably will have revenue to share and can utilize the experience as your own. As an example: I have enjoyed over 26 years with the same CRE company, Lee and Associates, and have lived in the same community for 23 years.

Empathy: A service provider's ability to empathize with a company is crucial. Zero in on the company's problem and empathize with their position. Don't just try to solve the problem before you properly diagnose the disease and empathize with the issues involved. If you own your company, make sure that your prospect knows this and that you have solved employment issues, space issues, legal issues, cash flow shortages or surpluses, etc. As an example: "I am a small business owner just like you and we dealt with the same issue like...this."

Creativity: Give some thought to the creative solutions that you have employed and the ways in which you will use creativity to deal with the issue at hand. As an example: "I use social media to market myself and my clients. Have you found any benefit in using social media marketing with your business?"

Resourcefulness: Have you ever listed how many professionals that you know or have referred, by category? Try it. How many attorneys, CPAs, Commercial Insurance brokers, sign companies, IT people, etc. do you know. How about knowing someone that is looking for a job? Maybe your prospect is looking for such a person with those skills and you can make an introduction. As an example: "I can refer you to someone who can solve your problem...try me!"

THANKS and GIVE BACK: Do you thank your clients for their business? How? The best way to thank a client for their business is to refer some business to them. Do you know who your client's ideal customer is? If not, you certainly should. As an example: Ask your prospects, "do your service providers refer business to you? I do and would like to refer business to you!"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Generate Business Through Your Contact Sphere!

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in southern California. I have a contact sphere, do you? A contact sphere is defined as those professionals/trades that share your ideal customer but don't compete with you. My contact sphere consists of CPAs, transactional attorneys, business bankers, commercial insurance brokers, and wealth advisors. A mortgage broker's contact sphere could be a residential real estate broker, an escrow company, a title company, etc. A roofer might share a door and window company, a painter, a general get the idea. Identify your contact sphere and you can generate referral business if you are strategic!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Proposition 23 is a Green Job Killer! Do you agree?

California voters will go to the poll on November 2 to decide several key races and issues. Last week, Location Advice asked the question, Is Meg Whitman pro Manufacturing? I provide location advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. Location Advice wondered if Prop 23 will be a job killer if enacted. Proposition 23, which would Suspend AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006, is on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California as an initiated state statute.

AB 32 is known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The act, passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is California's landmark clean air legislation.Proposition 23, if enacted by voters, will freeze the provisions of AB 32 until California's unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. California's unemployment rate, which currently hovers around 12%, has been at 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters just three times since 1980. AB 32 requires that greenhouse gas emission levels in the state be cut to 1990 levels by 2020. The process of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the state is slated under AB 32 to begin in 2012.

You can visit the site here:

In their campaigns for and against Proposition 23, supporters and opponents have each adopted nicknames for the measure that clarify what they think of it. Supporters call Proposition 23 the California Jobs Initiative and opponents call it the Dirty Energy Proposition.

Louise Bedsworth, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, predicted in April that total campaign spending on Proposition 23 could top the $154 million record set in 2006 by Proposition 87. Through the end of September, campaign contributions to both sides totalled around $20 million, with the "No on 23" organizations ahead in the money race by about $2 million.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New CalGreen Standards, Too Onerous?

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. The buzz around most location conversations these days is "green". Location advice examined this issue in some detail to see if the new legislation that will take effect in January 2011 will cost owners of industrial buildings dollars to comply with the new standards. I discovered that the new standards outline requirements such as reducing indoor potable water consumption and providing metering, reducing non-hazardous construction waste, limiting VOC emissions, requiring commissioning for new building construction, providing bike racks, and providing parking spaces for zero emission vehicles.

The law firm of Paul Hastings in Los Angeles authored this article. I found the article quite easy to understand and VERY informative! You can read the article in it's entirety by clicking on this link:

CALGreen Building Standards Code: Marketing and Reality

If you have any questions concerning these developing issues, please do not hesitate to contact one of the following Paul Hastings lawyers who penned the article: About the authors, Ryan Trahan, and John Opgenorth

Ryan T. Trahan


John Opgenorth


CALGreen Building Standards Code: Marketing and Reality


"This client alert addresses these questions; does CALGreen represent fundamental change in state building standards or is it simply a marketing effort? Moreover, how does CALGreen interact with private building certification systems such as LEED and Build It Green? The article provides a summary of some of the noteworthy provisions in CALGreen, and discusses the effect CALGreen may have on the promulgation of future green building codes."


"While CALGreen does not represent a large scale shift in building practices, it does begin a process of incremental change for building standards in California. CALGreen does raise certain construction whether its value will be any greater. standards, although the changes are relatively inexpensive. Private ratings systems such as LEED have, in the past, succeeded due to a combination of savvy marketing and quantifiable improvements in environmental and financial performance. Whether CALGreen provides California with a leadership stake in future green building codes may depend in large part on the value that becomes associated with CALGreen certification. The financial cost of such certification appears minimal; the question is whether its value will be any greater. In brief, CALGreen represents a modest change in California’s green building standards."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Seven tips to Make Social Media More Effective

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. I found this article from Steve Strauss, Mr AllBiz of The Strauss Group Inc.

Steve states:

"You’ve heard numerous tidbits on how to use social media to connect with customers, boost sales, and improve your business in general. What’s missing from these tips, however, are the top tips that are simple, but often ignored.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best social media tips and strategies I have come across recently:"

1. Tweet times three: A single tweet is easily lost in the fast-moving current that is The River Twitter. Yet, as you probably know, it is impossible to tweet the same thing twice in succession. Ah, but you can grasshopper. All you need do is write the first tweet, copy it, tweet it, and then paste it into your next tweet box. The secret is to change one word or phrase. Then instantly tweet it again. And then do it again.

All of a sudden, that tweet and your picture hits the stream three times in a row and is much more likely to be noticed.

2. Re-tweet top tweets: Consider CNN Headline News. Do they run brand new content every half hour? Of course not. Top stories are run throughout the day. As Guy Kawasaki has pointed out in this space, you should do the same thing. Notice what your top re-tweeted tweets are and re-post them on a fairly regular basis for a day or two or more. It will get you more click-throughs for sure.

3. End all Facebook updates with a question: Facebook is an ongoing conversation (actually, isn’t all social media?) So if you want face time on Facebook, if you want your business/product/take to regularly show up on your friends’ and fans’ feeds, then you need to have an ongoing conversation with your peeps.

Mari Smith, author of Facebook Marketing, says that one easy way to create and engage in that is to end your status updates with a question. For instance, “I am headed to New York this week for our annual trade show. Does anyone have any tradeshow tips that I should know about which they could share?” What you will find of course is that you will have started a conversation and thread that will continue to show up whenever someone adds to it.

4. Mix it up: Social media is all well and good for blasting your regular message, but people do become immune to that and can tune it, and you, out. Secret: Mix it up. Do something different. Do the unexpected.

What about posting something fun and strange? What about having a contest? What about tweeting a mea culpa to an unhappy customer: “We just wanted to say we are sorry to Sydney S. for getting her order wrong. To make up for it, here’s a $10 off coupon. Our bad!”

5. Give something away for free: The two strongest words in advertising are ‘free’ and ‘sale.’ Use that. People love getting stuff for nothing. So consider giving something away as a way to get more fans and followers. Maybe you have some old, inexpensive inventory that has been sitting around in the storeroom. Consider a promotion whereby the first 100 people to sign up get it. You will get new fans in a flash.

6. Use YouTube to find great keywords: For years I have been telling people to use either Google’s Keyword tool or Wordtracker when looking to add keywords and phrases in their SEO efforts. Recently, however, I ran across a tip by Greg Jarobe, a YouTube guru, who thinks YouTube may offer the better keyword analyzing tool. Why? Because many Google searches are for products, but all YouTube searches are to locate content/video. As such, the YouTube Keyword Tool may be a better fit for many small businesses.

7. Connect the dots: Managing and posting on all of these social media sites can get to be a drag, no? Too time-consuming. The good news is that these days one post can be linked to all of your other online properties. When I post to my blog for instance, or tweet a tweet, it automatically shows up on my homepage, on my Facebook page, and as a LinkedIn update.

Not only does this sort of thing save time, but it makes you look highly engaged, which you are, only in a smart, time-saving way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BNI (Business Network International)

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. This year I am honored to serve as the President of the Champions chapter of SoCal BNI. Last Friday night, the Champions chapter of SoCal BNI attended the first annual gala, "An Evening Among the Stars" October 1, 2010 in Irvine California. In attendance were approximately 650 representatives from 26 chapters spanning Southern California. The founder and CEO of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner attended as well along with his lovely wife, Elisabeth and Bill and Sue Mills. The evening was a beautiful celebration of the organization's 25th year anniversary! Dr. Misner delivered the welcome address and explained that the key to BNI's success is the culture in which we operate. The motto of "givers gain" is universally known and the way in which our culture has allowed such exponential growth to include over 6500 chapters in 44 countries. Dr. Misner noted that an organization which possesses culture without strategy has a better chance of survival than an organization with a strategy with no culture. BNI is fortunate to have both...a solid culture of "givers gain" AND a well thought out strategy of referral based business. At the chapter level we have a shared attitude and vision that transcends cultural barriers and allows us to "row together" toward success.

SoCal BNI's executive director, Jenni Nering was the evening's emcee and did a brilliant job. The evening was fast paced, exciting, and fun-filled! Dan Fowler's footprints were noticed throughout the evening with the exceptionally produced video montage and energy.

I was privileged to receive three awards for the "star" of our chapter, the greatest number of one-to-one meetings, and the greatest number of referrals given in a BNI year. Each call to the stage was highlighted by a photo with Dr. Misner.

Greatest Number of one-to-one meetings:

During our photo op, Dr. Misner mentioned to me that the one-to-one meetings were once called "one-on-one" meetings. The name change occurred during the international expansion and the term "one-on-one" was discovered to have a slightly different meaning...

Greatest Number of Referrals given:

During this photo op, Dr. Misner mused "isn't that interesting that the person with the most one-to-one meetings was also the person with the most referrals given." I responded that there was some truth in my case. My category, commercial real estate, is not widely represented in SoCal BNI. My industry is notorious for shunning networking groups. I am contrarian in my view of networking and believe that it is a vital part of a successful marketing strategy. As a result of the lack of CRE brokers and passion for networking, I have the latitude to network with BNI members within and outside the Champion's chapter. When I joined BNI in 2009, I sought to meet as many people as my time would allow...thus I requested and was granted many one-to-one meetings. As my contacts increased, my "what I am looking for" inventory increased. As a broker, matching peg A with slot B is in my DNA. I used the "broker DNA" and my 26 years of relationships in many industries to match the peg A (BNI member's "what I am looking for") with the slot Bs of the relationships. This resulted in the volume of referrals that I was able to generate. As the number of referrals started to increase week to week and the plastic trophies started to find their way to my spot at the breakfast table, my competitive nature propelled me to seek more referral opportunities. My "giving" has "gained" me far more that plastic trophies and weekly recognition, however. I have helped grow the businesses of my peers and this is truly rewarding!

With my new role as president of the Champions, I am committed to continue the givers gain philosophy and set a positive example for all of our members. The Champions chapter is fortunate. We have a tremendous wealth of talent and a very committed leadership team including Greg Beck as Vice President and Rosanne Grigsby as Secretary Treasurer. I look forward to a VERY successful year and many awards for the chapter at next year's gala!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is Meg Whitman pro Manufacturing?

California will elect a new governor in approximately 30 days. I provide location advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. Location Advice was curious if Meg Whitman will be pro manufactruing. Small businesses, especially manufactruing, represent a tremendous percentage of the job creation in California. Our manufacturing industry is heavily regulated at the state, county, and local level in California. Many of our largest manufactruing companies in California are seeking "friendlier" locations from which to operate. In my view, California needs to become more business "friendly" in order to spur the entrepreneurial spirit that California industry once enjoyed.

According to "Meg 2010, Building a New California, Meg Whitman's Policy Agenda" , Ms. Whitman would favor:

Eliminate the Small Business Start-Up Tax:

Meg will eliminate the $800 fee that new business start-ups are currently required to pay in California. Entrepreneurs should not be penalized for launching a business venture. The LLC filing fee is nothing more than a tax on jobs. The state that put “startup” into the national lexicon needs to repeal this tax.

Eliminate the Factory Tax:

California is only one of three states that taxes manufacturing equipment without offering a tax credit or exemption. The factory tax is a major obstacle to keeping high-paying manufacturing jobs in California.

Increase the Research and Development Tax Credit:

Meg will increase the R&D tax credit for California businesses from 15 percent to 20 percent, which conforms to the federal level. This is the same level of tax credit that many of the states we compete with offer today. This tax cut will promote investment in the technologies and industries of the future. California is the innovation capital of the world and our tax policies need to be aligned to support our major economic advantages.

Promote Investments for the Agriculture Industry:

The agriculture industry is vital to California’s economy. Meg believes that by providing a tax credit to encourage investments in water-conservation technology, we can reduce our state’s consumption and benefit all Californians.

Eliminate the State Tax on Capital Gains:

California is one of a few states in the country that doesn’t tax capital gains at a lower rate than traditional income. This is double taxation at its worst. California’s tax treatment of capital gains is a major impediment to capital formation and investment in new jobs. We should align California’s tax treatment of capital gains with other competing states. AK, FL, NV, NH, SD, TN, TX, WA and WY have No State Capital Gains Taxes.

Did you know?“ Excessive taxation starves our economy of innovation and entrepreneurship. We need to build the new California economy with the goal of making it easier to start a new business and create jobs in our state.” – Meg Whitman

Establish Academic Enterprise Zones:

Meg will take advantage of the academic excellence at our universities and create economic opportunity zones to encourage businesses to locate within a specified zone around these institutions. Tax incentives offered within these zones would be focused on hiring workers, promoting research and development, increasing access to state funds and loans and encouraging a close collaboration with universities. For example, the University of California, San Diego and the biotech region of San Diego are closely linked and provide leverage points for significant economic growth and job creation. The same is true in communities where other UC campuses are located.

Accelerate Depreciation of New Business Equipment:

Meg will provide a more favorable depreciation schedule to encourage farmers, manufacturers and other companies to invest in new equipment and technology that will make them more competitive and able to hire Californians.

On balance, I believe that Whitman is in fact pro manufacturing! What do you think?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Food Companies Expanding!!

I provide location advice for owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. I have noticed a trend in the growth of food companies in Orange County. Three recent examples of this exponential growth are Northgate Markets, Pacifica Foods, and Strategic Enlace. Although varied in the markets that these three companies serve, the least common denominator is that all three distribute food!

Northgate Markets:
The story of Northgate González Markets is the story of a family of immigrants that has fulfilled the American dream through vision, hard work and faith. It all began in Jalostotitlán, Jalisco when Don Miguel González Jiménez' shoe store burned down in 1952. After struggling for 14 years to get reestablished, at 44 years of age, Miguel and his older sons immigrated to Los Angeles, leaving behind his wife and other children.

In "el norte" the three work long hours to maintain the family in Mexico. By 1979 the family was reunited and established in La Mirada. Seeking business opportunities, they heard of a supermarket in Anaheim, home to a community of fellow Jalosticenses.

Just 2,000 square feet in size, Northgate # 1 opened its doors in January 1980. The original store was Northgate, and the name has been kept over the years and subsequent acquisitions. From the beginning, the whole family participated, holding other jobs while the business got established. More stores were bought in fulfillment of the dream of every brother and sister having his own store. This goal was reached some time ago, and today two generations work in the stores and corporate offices, with over 4,750 forming the community of Northgate employees.

The newer stores are about 50,000 square feet in size, allowing them to offer shoppers a large service meat department, bakery, tortillería and prepared foods, in addition to a sizeable selection of domestic and imported Latin American grocery goods. Northgate Markets will soon relocate into a state of the art distribution facility of approximately 300,000 square feet in Anaheim.

Pacifica Foods:
Pacifica Foods is a custom food processor located just east of Los Angeles, in Corona, CA. The owner of Pacifica, Ken Gerdau, worked in the wine industry with EJ Gallo, Chateau St. Michele, and Sutter Home. Ken also spent some time with Claim Jumper restaurants where the idea of Pacifica was born.With Quality and Safety as their primary objectives, Pacifica Foods has built a 20,000 square foot, state of the art facility which includes 4500 feet of shelf stable "Hot Pack" production, 5000 feet of fresh "Cold Pack" production (including cooler), Quality Assurance and extensive Research and Development. With over 66 years of combined Food Service and Retail experience, the owner/management team has a proven track record of understanding opportunities and providing solutions for their customers. They feel that sales growth, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are the result of the highest quality offering, in both product and service.

Strategic Enlace and Tactical Merchandising Services:
This company recently was awarded contracts from Northgate Markets (above) to distribute several products to the Northgate warehouse including a line of pro-biotics manufactured in Mexico. The company has experienced double digit growth in the last few years and recently leased a 28,000 square foot distribution building in Brea, California,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Some Companies Feel the Recovery

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of Industrial Buildings in Southern California. In a recent article published by Jan Norman of the The Orange County Register, some companies are feeling the recovery! Chronicled are three Orange County companies...Cramer Decker Industries, Allied Modular Building Systems, and Skyline Orange County and one Los Angeles County company, JDH Pacific. You can read the full article here. Enjoy!
Founded in 1981, Cramer Decker Industries has been a world leader in gas containment and delivery technologies for well over two decades. Begun simply as a product distributor in the low pressure compressed gas industry, Cramer Decker Industries has diversified and substantially expanded its operations over the succeeding years.

Allied Modular Building Systems, Inc. is the fastest growing modular company in the commercial building industry. Since the company was established in California over 20 years ago, Allied Modular Building Systems, Inc. has expanded with a second facility in Tennessee and has ambitions of adding more.Over the years, Allied Modular Building Systems, Inc. has incorporated a philosophy that has become the foundation to how they do business. It all started in 1989 with a man who had a vision to change the industry, have integrity and produce great quality modular products while providing optimal customer service. So this man built a team and initiated advancement and innovation in the modular building trade. They have taken the lead in the industry by being the first to get and maintain the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Classification for raceway products and International Code Council (ICC) approval for some of their structural products. Allied Modular Building Systems, Inc. is also the only modular company that meets the 2008 National Electric Code (NEC) with their UL Classification, and they’re always bringing more products to the market to serve the needs of their customers.
Established in 1980, Skyline is THE source for remarkable face-to-face marketing experiences.Skyline offers trade show and event exhibits to match any size and budget, ranging from tabletop displays and portable displays to modular inline exhibits and large-scale island exhibits. Skyline makes 19 different exhibit systems, including pop ups, banner stands, panel systems, fabric structures, truss and other structural, custom modular exhibit systems.

Friday, October 1, 2010

New Orleans, Louisiana...Location Advice

I provide location advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California. Last week, I had the privilege of visiting post Katrina NOLa. Our oldest son moved to New Orleans in January and absolutely loves it! The old world charm, the bars, the WWII museum, the bars, St. Charles Avenue, the Garden District, Magazine Street, The French Quarter, etc, etc.! We got to do a lot of very cool things but the absolute coolest was touring the swamps on a seven seat air boat and a very funny captain. We will call him Captain Water Boy. When he talked, his Cajun accent reminded us of Adam Sandler's character, Bobby Bouchet, in the Water Boy. Have you ever been up to your eyeballs in alligators? Well we were...literally! As we meandered through the marshy bayous, I acknowledged that a real estate transaction is somewhat like a swamp tour. You have to have an experienced captain to help you navigate through the twists and turns of the transaction and avoid the dangers that loom around every corner and in every overhanging branch. Fortunately, we made it through the tour safely and will never forget the memorable way in which the "water boy" spoke to the alligators in French and shared the history of life in the swamp.