Friday, June 14, 2019

Problems. Deal with Them!

“Solve all the problems or you won’t get paid!” Sage words from my mentor in 1984. Problems. Every deal has them - to the point if something is going too smoothly - you get a nagging feeling the apocalypse is brewing - just wait. I learned early in my career to expect issues as necessary in any business transaction.

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Some of my faves. A buyer and seller who manage to entrench themselves exactly 6% apart on the purchase price. Does 6% ring any bells? Yep. The amount of most real estate fees. An owner who refuses to approve a sublease because of the proposed use of the premises. A gaping hole in a parking lot during escrow - the buyer was convinced the site was a former landfill. A buyer 350 miles away and a document that needed his signature immediately - lest the time sensitive close couldn’t occur. A seller headed out of the country for three weeks - who insisted upon meeting with the buyer before departure.

I keep my sanity by recognizing there are five universal truths. 1. Problems are a fact. 2. There are two types - those that have and those that will occur. 3. Problems are the beginning and not the end. 4. ALL transactional problems can be solved. 5. Often the solution is rooted in the problem itself.

A word about the Code Blue Team. You know - that group of individuals - hair on fire - that race in with all manner of paraphernalia to save a patient who has coded. You need an advisory panel who can look at your situation objectively. This could be one person - your spouse or business partner. Or several people - from inside or outside your firm. If a tough knot is encountered - summon your team and follow the seven steps below.

So what should you do? Five things. 1. Embrace the problem. 2. Separate yourself from the emotion - this can take some time. 3. Pray about the solution. 4. Engage a code blue team. 5. Employ a seven step problem solving strategy.

Here’s how the strategy works.
Clearly identify the issue. Often our inability to find a solution lies with an improper definition. We recently got tangled up trying to resolve one problem. The real was - we weren’t dealing with the ultimate decision maker.

Understand everyone’s interest. With your code blue team - allow each member to ask as many questions as necessary to gain a complete understanding of the problem. Warning - this is not to offer solutions but to highlight the various stake holders, share holders, influencers, etc.

List possible solutions. Regardless of how unrealistic and with no judgements as to viability.

Select an option. You’re now ready to choose a course and go.

Deliver and document. Outline the proposed solution in writing.

Evaluate. How’d we do and how to we prevent forest fires in the future?

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104. His website is

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