Friday, September 27, 2013

Broadcasting Commercial Real State on WII-FM

Broadcasting live from WII-FM Commercial Real Estate Radio. We are here live in Orange County, California where I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings...AKA, I sell and lease commercial real estate for a living and have since what? you ask...What's In It For Me?

Recently, I had the honor of dining with Howard Kline of CRE Radio. Howard is a delightful chap (although he didn't wear his bow tie) and we had a terrific time "capitzing" about all things CRE...The lunch ended with a great idea and a way for Howard to achieve a goal of his...increase the advertising for CRE Radio. Although the purpose of the lunch was simply to get acquainted, we really helped each, an upcoming appearance on the CRE radio show on October 11 and Howard an appearance at the Lee and Associates broker Summit in Las Vegas AND a new strategy to appeal to advertisers.

Our lunch sparked a thought...too often we look at things from our perspective and not from the perspective of our prospects and other words we think about "what is in it for me" and not "what is in it for the prospect".

A quick example: We as commercial real estate brokers (in this case we are the prospects) are bombarded by lenders...all purporting to have the best rates, easiest qualifying process, cheapest origination fees, etc. NEVER, has one of these lenders taken the time to figure out what might be in that for me or one of my clients...they all assume that I have a buyer that might need financing and that I could be a great referral source for them. What falls short on the WII-FM radio show...they haven't figured out a way to appeal to me or my clients by providing the "what's in it for me" solution. Now, maybe that sounds selfish. That is not my intent. My intention is to suggest that this is light of all that is available to us on line about companies, individuals, connections, etc. If said lender has sent me a note that went like this..."I noticed that you closed x number of sales last year including a, b and c. It appears that you used y lender. Is there a time that we could meet next week to discuss a way that I can help you close more deals"?...ahhh, yeah, when can we meet!

We as commercial real estate practitioners make the same mistake by not crafting our message to appeal to the "what's in it for me" for our prospects. We bombard the email ip's with listings, we flood the US mail with flyers, we tweet the airwaves with "buy my stuff"...CRE Canada, you are the worst! We don't use the available channels of WII-FM!

So what is in this post for YOU? Just this. Think about your offering. What makes it unique? Why should I care? How can you modify the message to appeal to a need. What extra can you provide to differentiate yourself? What motivates a prospect to hire you?

WII-FM is broadcasting daily throughout the USA. Don't miss another episode!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"How to" sell commercial real estate with YouTube

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California...AKA I sell and lease commercial real estate for a living and have since 1984. Today's post centers around one of the most exciting channels (pardon the pun) of social media...YouTube. If you own or broker commercial real estate for a living and you are not using YouTube to sell or lease your are sadly missing out on a HUGE opportunity.

So how pretell is it done? Here are five ways that I have successfully used YouTube to sell and lease my commercial real estate listings:

Low tech: VIDEO If I want to generate a vast amount of "trial" quickly, create a searchable address for one of my listings (Google owns and loves YouTube), and get the video produced in a hurry, I simply take some footage of the building outside and in, narrate as I go, upload the footage to YouTube and post the link to theBrokerList,  Loopnet, CoStar, post it to my blog, forward the link to an inquiry etc. Sometimes the market reacts more favorably to a "low tech" video clip because it doesn't appear to be "produced". I wouldn't recommend this for some of the glitzy high rises that are in Manhattan...but for an industrial building in Fullerton, California...low tech works just fine! Did I mention that the address becomes searchable? Huge if someone drives by and googles the address! Important note: Make sure you title the video by the address...street, number, city, and state.

High tech: VIDEO Generally speaking, industrial buildings are boring...concrete boxes with very little sex appeal. They all are not created equal, however. A high tech production of the interior of your commercial real estate building can gain a lot of traction, endear you to your owner by selling or leasing the building quicker, and save those in the brokerage community a tremendous amount of time and effort. Think about it, if I produce a virtual tour of the interior of the building, reference the link on my marketing materials, forward this link to those in the community...prospects and brokers...that would be interested in the building, the "preview" of the building is complete! traded calls, no preview "walk-throughs", etc...we can get right down to business and schedule a tour that is meaningful since the preliminaries are accomplished.

Generate "efficient" tours: Let's face it, a tour must be accomplished before a transaction can occur. Tours are necessarily time consuming. But how can we use YouTube to insure that tours are efficient uses of everyone's time? Take a virtual tour YOURSELF! You are previewing the building anyway, right? Why not take the trusty device along and video the preview? You can then send this link along to your client for their review before you drag them out of the office to see a building that won't work. If you want to give an owner of a commercial real estate building a tour of his competition...even better!

Introductions: Some commercial real estate practitioners insist on being present when tours take place. Some owners require that all tours be escorted by a member of the marketing team. UGH! How about this. Send the prospective tour participants a preview of the deal, owner, motivation, etc. VIDEO. This step will help qualify the prospects and cause your time to be spent productively.

Special sauce: Want to REALLY impress the marketplace and reduce the time between a listing engagement and a paycheck...besides aggressive pricing, of course? Take an extra step and generate a QR code that can be affixed to signs inside the building, on the signs outside the building, on brochures, postcards, and other marketing materials. I can hear the collective cry out there...those damn things don't work because no one scans them. Well, my contention is that QR codes are widely misused...AND...once we as a community figure out how to correctly use the medium, the magic will, we sound REALLY old when we say that!

Friday, September 20, 2013

"How to" lose a commercial real estate deal...and like it!

I provide Location Advice to owners and to occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California...AKA, I sell and lease commercial real estate for a living and have since 1984.

I HATE to lose and if you relish losing, you will not be terribly successful in the commercial real estate game as a silver medal doesn't pay very zero! I recently lost an assignment that I should have won (but don't we believe we should win them all?).

Once the shock of losing wore off, I became philosophical and would like to share that with you.

As one of my partners said to me..."you actually may have won and don't know it". So how do you lose a commercial real estate deal and like it?

Consider why you lost: Were you the right choice? Why? Was the assignment in your "wheel house", could you sight several examples of SIMILAR transactions that you have completed? Did you have a relationship with the decision maker or was the interview your first introduction? Were you dealing directly with the final decision maker? Was the fix in and you were just a "folder filler" to justify hiring someone else?"How to" like it: Courteously engage with the decision maker after the decision is made and ask what you could have done differently to earn the business. See if you can glean the "real reason" that the choice was made. LISTEN to what is said and respond accordingly. The next time you compete for a similar assignment, you will know the deficiency and can prepare accordingly. Hint: My experience has indicated that the larger the RFP, the higher the likelihood of losing. Someone is "adding value" by making you compete. The one chosen will have some me!

Why did you compete? Some of the largest and most complicated commercial real estate transactions I have  completed required NO competition for the assignment. That sounds counter intuitive, I know, but it is true. In many cases, I have forged solid relationships with owners and occupants so that once my services were needed, there was no interview...I was already hired...because over the course of building the rapport with the client my capabilities were understood and my value was realized. "How to" like it: Relationships that begin today may lead to transactions in the keep meeting, greeting, and learning how you can help the relationships that you build. Hint: People do business with those they know, like and trust. Sounds simple but rarely will this code be broken. You may the most likable and trustworthy candidate but if they don't KNOW you...forget it!

Be gracious in defeat: Jack Nicklaus, probably the greatest golfer ever and one of the fiercest competitors of all time won 20 major championships and 73 professional golf tournaments. He finished second in an astonishing 39 major championships! Jack Nicklaus is the sport's greatest champion but also was a quintessentially gracious loser. He would immediately congratulate the winner and compliment them on their victory. "How to" like it: Find out who won the assignment, contact them and congratulate them. Offer your assistance. If you don't know the person who received the assignment, strike a relationship with them. You lost an assignment but you can win a new relationship. Hint: The victor will be "blown away" that you acknowledged the victory and will remember that you are a "class act"...they might even share some insight as to why they were chosen.

Losing is always tough but remember you can still like it and good things are ahead...and you may have "won" by not being selected for the assignment. Small consolation today...big benefits tomorrow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"How To" win commercial real estate deals with Blogs

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California...AKA, I sell and lease commercial real estate for a living and have since 1984. 

I have blogged for three and a half years and have written about all things commercial real estate. I have in essence "worked out loud."

Recently, I was asked to compete for a tenant representation, right?

This is what we all strive for...a chance to flaunt our capabilities and maybe score a new assignment and ultimately some commission dollars.

I have accomplished almost seventy tenant or buyer deals in the last 3.5 years, so I believed that I was VERY qualified for this assignment! I thought, bring it on...when can we meet?...not so fast!

My enthusiasm soon evaporated when I received the RFP (Request for Proposal) through email...Hmmm, the RFP...those three letters send a chill up the spines of most commercial real estate brokers... three pages long, single spaced and filled with compound questions such as "Quickly provide a brief overview of your firm. Describe your approach to the marketplace and how you perform your services. Describe who would be your point person and what would the communication and update process encompass." and "Describe what additional services your firm provides. Describe any other contributions or offering that your firm provides that might assist a tenant such as this with this assignment..."...Well, you get the idea!...A LOT OF WORK...with no guarantee of success!

My first reaction was...damn...looking for a building isn't rocket science, is all of this necessary?
My second reaction was...and this is what I get for the relationship I have been building?...a CHANCE to compete?
I next went to...well, I am just not gonna play...if that is what they want, I'm not their guy.
Finally...and fortunately I kept the previous thoughts just that...thoughts...I decided to roll up my sleeves and let 'em have it!

So how did I compete for this assignment and shine? My blogging! My past posts enabled me to complete the RFP with ease and as a result of reading some past posts, I reminded myself that...hey, I MAY know what I'm doing!

Describe your firm? Wait, I wrote about that in 2010!
Can you outline your process? Absolutely! I wrote about that in 2010!
How are the market conditions? Nice...2013!
What challenges do you foresee in our search and how do we "shorten our downside"? All over that...2013!
How will you assist us in lease negotiations? How about this one from 2010?
What differentiates you from your competition? Let me wax on grasshopper! 
How do you add value? Awesome! Here's how.

So in short, all of the time I spend "working out loud" through my blogging helped me with this assignment! I hope that it will help you as well.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

#CRE brokerage...1985 and today

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern California...aka I sell and lease commercial real estate for a living. My wife, Carla and I went to see the movie Jobs recently and the movie really caused me to reflect on just what an impact Steve Jobs made on the way in which we do business as a world generally and as commercial real estate brokers specifically...WOW! As I sit here in front of my Dell laptop which is tethered to my IPad, with my IPhone close by, technology is VERY easy to take for granted...just like we did in 1985....well maybe not so much. Just how far have we come in 28 years?
In 1985:
Then: Steve Jobs was "demoted" from Apple's board of directors...a company he and Steve Wosniak founded in a family garage a few years prior. Now: Steve Jobs R.I.P but not before leading Apple to a market cap in the hundreds of billions by converting millions of technology users to IPhones, IMacs, IPads, IPods, MacBooks, etc...truly stunning!

My company Lee and Associates had 3 offices in Orange County, California...we now have 48 offices across the USA.

In 1985 I had lots of brown hair, only two children, the same wife, a desk, and a phone...Today...grey, three plus two, desk, phone, mobile phone, laptop, IPad, GPS...and that's just at the office. Multiply that by two for home.


Then: We prospected for new business by visiting the company in person, calling them, or sending them a letter. If we had vacant buildings to lease or sell and signs on the buildings...we maybe got a call from someone who saw the sign and was looking...that's it! Now: Google searches, CoStar, Prospect Now, theBrokerList, Loopnet, Linked In, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Organized networking groups, You Tube, email, eblasts, autobot calling, texting, many ways there are today to prospect for ANY company ANYWHERE! Virtually no one is invisible anymore.

Survey and Research:

Then: When we engaged a client who was in the market for commercial real estate, we met with the company in person, discussed the requirement, and "bought" ourselves a week so that we could research the available buildings, contact the listing brokers, gather the brochures (hard copy via mail or delivery), have a survey typed, assemble the tour books...including maps with rub on numbers. Now: We conduct the building search at the client's office on our IPads using CoStarGo and/or we conduct the search at our office, create a PDF and email the file including brochures and/or we YouTube a virtual tour of the space and email to the client. What used to take a week can now be done in ten minutes. I have at least four multiple listing services available to use on my desktop and two that are mobile. I can publish a requirement and receive global distribution in seconds using theBrokerList or BrokerRoster or Rofo. Fortunately commercial real estate brokers do not compete on price for our services OR with the abundance of free information on line, we would get skewered. All commercial real estate providers have the same our service and knowledge of the owners and transactions that allows us to create value.


Then: We picked up the client, and started the building tour. You better be familiar with the streets because GPS didn't exist. Now: You can practically direct a building tour from the clients office BUT if you have to drive, there are plenty of navigation tools that make driving in different cities very easy.


Then: An offer was that...binding and signed by the tenant or buyer. The points were entered into a contract, typed and hand delivered to the client for review, approval, and signature. We also collected a "good faith" deposit that was held un cashed until the deal was made and the leases were signed or the PSA was executed. You "actually met" with the cooperating broker in person and submitted your offer. Any responses were also done in letter form and were mailed or hand delivered...remember we had no fax machines! Now: We have these "silly" wimp clauses in a proposal that state that even if I sign this, I am making no commitment to lease your space or buy your building if and until I sign a definitive agreement which I can still revoke if I disapprove...yada, yada. Much is lost today as "expressions of interest" have replaced actual offers and meeting in person is rarely done. Some of my closest friends in the brokerage community are that because the "old days" forced us to meet, negotiate, and get to know one another.

So what is the net effect In My Humble Opinion?:

Technology in commercial real estate has made us faster to respond, better at servicing our client's needs, and quicker to react to changes in the world economy. Our connections are more global and less local. Our relationships are shallower but more plentiful. We MUST filter an incredible amount of data quickly and efficiently to compete...and the competition is fierce. Nothing has replaced a referral from a trusted friend or advisor. The face-to-face meeting still trumps a call, email, text, LinkedIn request, Facebook comment, tweet, etc.

Do I miss 1985? Absolutely not! After all, Grecian Formula is still available for us grey haired old dudes...and I never rocked the mullet, anyway. Plus we got two delightful new additions to our family this year in a new son and I didn't sire them, two of our kids got married.