Friday, February 28, 2014

25 ways to build your #CRE biz...while driving

The palatial studios of Tuesday Traffic car!
All of us commute in and out of the office. Some of us that live in suburban areas of large cities have very long commutes. I created the Tuesday Traffic Tips series on YouTube to provide ways to build your commercial real estate business while on the road.

Tuesday Traffic Tips for #CRE is now six months old...twenty five episodes. The series has broad appeal and has generated several hundred hits because the videos are short, informative, and simple to implement. Here in order of their popularity...least to most...are the essence of the TTT advice for commercial real estate.

As a disclaimer, 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...that qualifies me as some sort of expert...I believe:)

So here goes nothing! I have hyper-linked the episodes with the video feed in case you want to learn more. Happy viewing!

Episode 14 Make your sales meetings more productive
Episode 9   Consider the steps in your sales process
Episode 5   Say THANK YOU to a client
Episode 6   Promote a colleague
Episode 4   How to "jump start" your biz with your best referral source
Episode 17 How to spend the last two weeks of the year productively
Episode 15 How to maintain clients and prospect more effectively
Episode 12 Take your client a gift...just because
Episode 3   Count your blessings!
Episode 13 Find yourself a mentor
Episode 11 How to maintain consistency with Social Media marketing
Episode 8   Drive less and use technology more
Episode 2   Take a different route in or out of the office
Episode 16 How to transform from vacation mode to work mode
Episode 10 How to prepare your car for a tour
Episode 22 Change your routine
Episode 1   Stop and see one new prospect on the way in or out of the office
Episode 18 A foolproof New Year's resolution
Episode 25 How to take your "online" relationships "offline"
Episode 7   How to gain "peace" during your commute
Episode 24 How to get some un encumbered time with a client
Episode 20 Do the one thing that will separate you from your competition
Episode 21 DON'T apologize...not what you think
Episode 19 A foolproof way to get past the gate keeper
Episode 23 Prayers for a buddy!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Solve #CRE deal problems, get paid!

"You won't get paid until you solve all the deal's problems." 

This was the statement that greeted me when I became a commercial real estate broker in 1984. The statement was made by my mentor who was a steely eyed veteran of the truck leasing business turned #CRE broker.

As a disclaimer, 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.

As I now have thirty years of deal problem solving, I thought I would wax philosophical on just "how" to solve deal problems.

Before I write about the solutions, I believe that it is important to talk about the cause of problems. If we, as commercial real estate practitioners can adequately prevent problems from occurring, we ostensibly solve them.

Unrealistic expectations: Many times we enter a deal without properly preparing an owner or an occupant for the challenges that could befall the transaction. If an occupant enters an owner's market, the alternatives and deal making environment are skewed away from the occupant. If an owner's vacant building is obsolete and overpriced, the building will sit vacant. Sometimes, even when we do our best to educate an owner or occupant about current market conditions, there is a stubbornness or disbelief that prevails and that must be overcome.

No control: I have written about this ad nauseum, but I see this as the single biggest problem that can crater a deal...not working with an engagement agreement. Remember that problems are going to occur. If you are working without control, the ease of "replacing" you with another practitioner becomes very easy.

Not dealing with the decision maker: Another one of my favorite rants! If you are talking through a a CFO that reports to a CEO, a local guy that reports to an out-of state president, a member of a board, a warehouse manager that must gain owner approval, an asset manager that doesn't have discretion, you run the risk of your message being garbled.

A hidden agenda: Are you being engaged to educate an occupant on market conditions so that the occupant can use the information to renew a lease at his present location? Is the move contingent upon the acquisition of a competitor? Has an owner over leveraged his real estate and now must sell? Is the owner or occupant facing a business obstacle to which you are not privy?

A failure to qualify: If you have failed to diplomatically broach ALL of the have failed to qualify the opportunity.


Unrealistic expectations occur with an incomplete understanding of the market, a lack of credibility with the advisor (you) or a article in a trade journal, a friend's boast at a cocktail party, information sent to them by your competitor, etc.

You can thwart an incomplete understanding of the market by conducting a tour of available alternatives...not just a tour on paper but an actual tour. This works especially well with an owner who is planning to list a vacancy with a broker.

If you believe that your credibility is lacking, let the market be the bad guy . By this I mean, state your case clearly in writing, agree with the owner or occupant's view of the market, accept the listing or the engagement and let the market take over. Once your owner or occupant gets some real data in the form of offers on a vacant building or rejected proposals, your credibility will soar without being the bad guy.

Finally, the misconception is easily rebuked by talking specifics vs. generalities. We saw many occupants in the 2009-2011 talking about commercial foreclosures because the media was filled with these reports. We could diffuse these reports by talking about the generalities of the reports vs the real deals in the market.

The solution to working without control is simply not to do it...period. Just walk away. If an occupant is not willing to commit to you, then why should you commit time, effort, and money (or the loss of earning potential) on a maybe. There are enough uncertainties in a deal without worrying if your client is going around you with several of your competitors.

I try to get an handle on all the people involved in a real estate decision early in the process. When things are cool and you are establishing a working relationship, this is easier than when a problem occurs later in the deal and you need to go over the local guy's head. I try, when feasible, to meet with ALL parties, get their contact information and copy them on all correspondence on the deal. Whenever possible, I insist on dealing directly with the person making the decision...easy when the owner is a single, "one off" owner or occupant...tougher when the occupant is a multi state company or when the owner is a pension fund advisor. Realize that if a situation occurs which necessitates talking with a local guy's boss, you may only be able to go to that well once...may sure it is worth it. Your relationship with the local guy will be tainted forever.

Hidden agendas are masked by a seemingly good motivation and eagerness that can sometimes feel too good to be true. You can test hidden agendas by zooming out and analyzing the motivation as you interpret the motivation, communicating this to the owner or occupant in a diplomatic way. "Wow, I'm surprised that you would move given the amount of expense you would incur to replace the electrical."

The same gentleman that preached the sage words to me about solving the deal's problems was maybe the best qualifier I've ever seen. He had the uncanny ability to ask the question that everyone was thinking but hadn't the balls to do so. I believe that the best way to qualify a requirement is to have the owner or occupant convince you of their motivation. If an occupant can convincingly recite his reasons for moving...and they are have just qualified the deal.

Let's all concentrate on solving problems and getting paid this year!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five reasons I LOVE #CRE

Today is Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is a day for lovers. A day for fourth graders to exchange sappy cards and little heart shaped candies. A day for you to pay inflated prices for a dozen 5:00 PM on your way home (I surprised Mrs. Buchanan yesterday). A day to reflect on our love for the commercial real estate industry.

In recognition of Valentine's Day and my chosen vocation, this post will hightlight the five reasons that I LOVE commercial real estate!

As a disclaimer, 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.

The freedom to discover your business worth: When I left corporate America in 1984, after five years with Procter and Gamble and E and J Gallo (including leaving my company car, expense account, and paid benefits for a commission only "volunteer" job), I had no idea what I was worth in the business world. I had been told that my business worth was limited and that the "company" created my business worth. As I started "peddling my CRE wares", an insecurity crept into my gut as I realized that my former employers were right! I was worthless! a business sense. As I've told many a #CRE recruit and newbie, you will never understand your "true" worth until you are paid strictly commissions. Quickly I learned the tools that lead to a 30 year (and counting) CRE career. I now have a complete understanding of my business worth.

The people: Commercial brokers work hard, play hard and are in most senses "cowboys" or in the least, mavericks! What a refreshing group of folks, however. As my network has now expanded via social media to CRE brokers around the globe, we are universally a rare breed! I also so enjoy the owners and occupants of commercial real estate that I encounter every day.

The income potential: In corporate America (at least at the lowly levels I attained), your income is determined by factors outside your control...boards, supervisors, district or area sales quotas, product offerings, company politics, etc. If you fail to make the amount of money you desire in commercial real estate, you have only yourself to blame. I have realized over the years that our compensation far outstrips our contribution...until you factor in the risk we take...that we won't get paid.

The entrepreneurial, that's a mouth full!: One of the coolest aspects of my job is the entrepreneurs that I meet and represent. I'm always amazed by the ways in which people make a living. I am energized by that spirit everyday!

The ability to help people: I love the fact that we assist owners and occupants in achieving their dreams! I sold a building to a company some years ago. The owners are now in their late seventies. They shared with me some succession ideas (with the operating company) and told me that the real estate I sold them was worth five times the value of their operating company. If that is not worthy, I give up!

Love you some CRE today!

Friday, February 7, 2014

10 ways to deal with #CRE adversity

Adversity...just what is it? A flood in your family room, a banker and a residential realtor mucking up a commercial real estate deal, a foreign client who speaks broken English negotiating a lease, observing a dear friend and colleague fighting for his life in a cancer ward...yes, yes, yes...and yes! Welcome to my week (not saying it is better or worse than yours...just my reality).

As I drove an hour to the City of Hope see my friend...for maybe the last time...I pondered adversity. This post is designed to help me deal with adversity (writing for me is therapeutic) and to share with you some ways that you can approach the adversity in your life (and deals) as well.

As a disclaimer, 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.

Examine the degrees: As I drove, this thought absolutely arrogant and ungrateful of me to "stress" one moment about water damage, a deal, or a negotiation when my friend fights for his life? We have to appreciate that CRE deals are not a matter of life and death, never will be, and if we have misplaced a deal's importance as it relates to life and limb, we need to seriously back away and take stock of our priorities. Never was this truth (CRE deal's importance) more evident to me than when I consoled my buddy's 16 year old daughter, at his hospital bedside, and realized that she may never have her Dad to walk her down the aisle when she gets married some day...real world adversity, folks.

So what to do next?

Surround yourself with like minded friends, colleagues, and/or family: I witnessed yesterday my buddy's wife "sounding the charge of the light brigade" and requesting that we come and see her husband immediately. About 40 of us from the office responded, dropped everything, and hurried to the hospital. What we saw, while there, was miraculous...our friend awoke, responded, and felt God's love! If he survives, I believe it will be partially as a result of the outpouring of love and support that we shared. You can read about my friend's battle here. Prayers are encouraged and appreciated!

With degrees in mind...

Be grateful and have faith: Approach adversity with a grateful heart. I resolved it this way...would I prefer to not have the adversity...certainly...I wish that my friend and I were driving together for an hour to play golf at Torrey Pines...BUT, the adversity and our resulting outpouring of love and support may just pull him through! Also, no adversity, could mean that their is NO deal...would that be better?...I believe not. This is what we do...we anticipate, moderate, and solve issues that arise in life and in commercial real estate deals...and are handsomely paid to do so.

"The other shoe is bound to drop": Adversity will happen. Those that have been in the CRE biz for more that 45 minutes realize that problems will is just a matter of time. We start to expect issues to arise and a weird thing happens when they don't...we wonder when they will occur. Please realize that adversity can sometimes pre-dawn a break-through.

"Stop the bleeding": When adversity occurs, as it was in the case of our family room flood, it was important to turn off the water to the house to prevent any further damage. This comparison can help in a deal as well. The sooner you can prevent any further damage, the better your chances of reconciling the issue.

Remove yourself from the situation: Depending upon when and where the adversity occurs, take a break...go to lunch, go out to dinner, go home, go to a hotel for the evening, take a walk in the park, work-out, etc. This is tough! We are deal makers and problem solvers so we want to get at it! However, if you remove yourself, your perspective will change appreciatively once you return to the scene of the adversity.

Understand "their" reality: In the case of the banker and resi agent, I realized that they are just attempting to do their job, protect their client, and move forward. Resolving this in my mind has helped us advance toward an equitable fix.

Don't react hastily: Removing yourself from the situation will allow you to realize that there are several alternatives to resolving the adversity...a hasty reaction will not be one of them.

Seek counsel: Someone that you know has dealt with a similar issue or the adversity that your are experiencing...a friend has had a slab leak, another speaks Italian, still another...well you get the idea. Sometimes the counsel is closer than you believe...a spouse, close friend, or relative. Remember to listen to what they recommend. My friend is getting the best cancer treatment possible from one of the best cancer hospitals in the world...the City of Hope in Duarte, California.

Take it one day at a time: We never know what God has in store for us BUT we know He loves us and all that we have is remember that when dealing with adversity.

photo credit:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

SEAHAWKS WIN! and 7 simple ways to make more #CRE deals!

Let's face it, we ALL could benefit from a few more CRE deals this year...especially with the market tightening in some areas of the country and with values increasing. With that point in mind, making more deals, just what do we need to do? This post will outline several simple...not easy...ideas to help you make more commercial real estate deals in 2014.

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

Learn to "work out loud": My wife, Carla, coined this phrase and it speaks volumes! Working out loud is akin to doing things once so that you can access the work in the future. Here is what I mean. There are a multitude of tasks that we repeat daily as CRE, proposals, processes for repping occupants, previewing buildings, etc. If you preview a building and video tape a "virtual tour" while previewing, you have just "worked out loud"! You now have a tangible record of the preview that can be shared with clients, prospects, other brokers, etc. If you create a blog, with your occupant rep process or your vacant building marketing process, these links can be sent to owners, occupants, and fellow brokers...thus saving you time in re-creating this EVERY time you get a request for proposal or a request for information.

Expand your network: Let's get really strategic here. What is the best referral source of new biz for you? The answer could be what has your best referral source been? Is it bankers, lawyers, wealth advisors, material handling reps, commercial insurance brokers, CPAs, other brokers? You should be able to quickly elaborate on this referral source. Whatever the answer is, my suggestion is that you multiply your outreach to the referral sources that you identified...simple, huh? If you received three referrals from CPAs, ask your existing clients if they can provide an introduction to their CPA. This is an easy ask. Plus, your client's CPA and you have something in common...your client!

Fire a client or two: Tough to do...but SO necessary! As vibrant as our markets are these days, we cannot afford to waste any time with unrealistic, unreasonable, unqualified, or unappreciative clients...period! So here is a suggestion. Rather than forever discontinuing a bad relationship, simply refer this client to someone else in your office and retain a referral position. I recently did this, the other broker in my office was appreciative, and I just received  referral fee for the firing.

Get to know your competition: Who are the real deal makers? How well do you know them? Have you ever invited them to lunch, coffee, breakfast, a networking event, golf, etc? Some might call this sleeping with the enemy, but my experience is that the more you are connected with the competition, the better. These are the people that are making the markets and just may provide you with a new means of doing deals, a new outlook, or a great referral source...see paragraph above.

Establish a means to contact past clients: We all understand this, but so few of us do a really good job of it. Here's an suggestion that has worked for me: Create three of folks you have done deals within the past, one for referral partners (network), and one for folks you would like to do business with (prospects). I would suggest limiting the lists to a maximum of 100 names for each list. Each month of the year, alternate contact with one of the three lists...thus each will be contacted four times a year. Don't just call them...but don't avoid calling them. I would suggest a different method each month. One month could be a lumpy mailer, the next could be a small gift, the following a call, the next a blog post, the following a short video, the following some market info on avails and get the idea. Your goal is to establish several touch points throughout the year so that you stay top of mind.

Use social media: If you are reading this, then you are a consumer of social media content. If you forward this post to a client or are my best friend...but also, you are a curator of social media content. If this post inspires you to shoot a video, create a blog, or tweet a status, CONGRATULATIONS! You are now a social media content creator. Here is my recommendation to you. Move up the ladder. If you consume, make it your goal to curate. If you curate, try creating your own is that simple...and before you know it, you will discover great ways to incorporate social media marketing into your CRE practice...and create more engagement!

Listen more than you speak: So true in face-to-face networking, social media marketing, and life in general. No one enjoys the company of anyone who is one sided...talks too much! Actively, and with genuine interest, listen to the people you'll be amazed how much you will learn!

Best of luck in 2014 using these simple suggestions!

Image courtesy of