Having faced unique challenges due to COVID-19, SIORs have been regularly sharing their tips on succeeding in difficult markets. Still, there are some keys to success that will stand you in good stead whether the market is strong, weak, or somewhere in between.
Every successful broker has his or her own keys to success, but many share similar strategies in what works best. The number one strategy that all have in common? Having a strong emphasis on constant and open communication with clients.
“Number one is: be responsive in a timely way,” shares Frank Martin, SIOR, senior associate broker, Hall Associates, Inc., Roanoke, Va. “You will lose some time answering questions, but by responding you will build future business.” Martin says he gets back to people the same day “to show respect.”
If someone has trusted you with a listing, he continues, it’s important to report regularly—even if the news is not good. “It’s a very hard call to say, ‘We listed a month ago and we have not received one call,’” he acknowledges. “People will assume it’s a marketing issue. If it is, [gently] let them know things are going on at other properties, not just theirs.”
It’s also important, says Martin, to stay on top of what’s happening in the market. “Even if it’s not a transaction you are involved in, people like to talk real estate,” he notes. “You should be able to either tell them what’s happening, or say, ‘I’m curious about that too, let me get back to you,’” Martin advises. “One day they could be in the position of needing or referring you.”
Speaking of referrals, he says, “Don’t be afraid to ask for them. If I worked a successful deal, my greatest source was either social media or talking to someone who was happy with what we did.”
And finally, he advises, “Maintain a presence in the market. You want a person to say, ‘I see your signs all the time.’”
“Over the last 25 years, I’ve never been concerned about the economy being strong or weak, because my strategies and approaches to business are consistent,” states Rob Renaud, SIOR, president and broker of record with Encor Advisors Canada Ltd., Brokerage in Toronto. His “timeless tips” are the following:
- Keep in touch with key clients and their current and future challenges;
- Always be focused on your pipeline 1-2 years from now, not just the deals you’re working on today;
- Be flexible in terms of the kinds of projects, clients, locations, and asset classes you’re working on as the market ebbs and flows, which has proven to be valuable; and
- Ensure that you run an efficient business that protects your time and energy.
For John Skoglin, SIOR, vice president, CBRE | Advisory & Transaction Services Industrial & Logistics in Baltimore, his tips for closing deals in any economic climate include “integrity, service, knowledge, and follow-up,” with a foundation of “finding and developing legitimate needs.” These tips, he shares, were developed through “lessons learned from years of experience.”
And what strategies do SIORs and others in the industry have for young brokers entering the industry? A recent blog post from Rethink by Buildout highlighted many of the same strategies that our SIOR brokers recommended:DEVELOP UNIQUE ASSETS OR SPECIALTIES
If you want to become more valuable than the next broker, you have to be willing to set yourself apart with more valuable skills. Whether it’s enhancing your expertise in a specialty area or embracing a new tool or resource for your practice, make sure you are unique and demonstrate marketable aspects of your business. It’s tempting to be everything to everyone in the hopes of casting a wide net and catching many fish—but often those wide nets have too many large holes. You’ll miss a lot of the smaller fish, and those smaller fish can add up. Finding a specialty and developing your own niche is a great way to set yourself apart.ALWAYS THINK ONE STEP AHEAD
Don’t wait for one deal to close before finding another one. Those who continue to seek new opportunities and not sit idly by will reap the benefits. You need to think a few steps ahead and ensure the next business venture is scheduled.NETWORKING IS EVERYTHING
“Commercial real estate is still a very traditional profession,” according to Rethink by Buildout. “If you want to get ahead—in terms of knowing where opportunities lie and turning leads into clients—you need to know how to network. Networking isn’t just a game of numbers. Connecting with people has become easier than ever thanks to the opportunities provided by LinkedIn and other social media platforms, but sending out requests isn’t enough.
You need to develop your network. Check in with people regularly, even socialize with them at events that have nothing to do with work. The goal is to ensure you stay top-of-mind with them so when a deal presents itself, you’re at the front of the line.”
WHERE DO TIPS COME FROM?
When asked about how they developed their “timeless tips,” SIORs’ responses again varied from individual to individual. “My father was a prominent realtor in the Windsor, Ontario region; he was an incredible business mentor who helped shape my go-getter attitude,” Renaud shares. Early on in his career, he adds, he was exposed to a program called Strategic Coach, which helped to shape his outlook on business.
“I also studied the concept of contrarian investing and how to not just follow the herd, which I’ve leveraged in commercial real estate brokerage,” Renaud continues. “I saw too many people fizzle out and leave the industry because they were just focused on the shiny prize versus putting in the hard work and long hours to achieve their success.”
“I’ve developed them over the years,” says Martin, adding that in part he learned from some mistakes he made, like not keeping in touch with people. “Asking for referrals is something you learn over the years,” he adds.
SIORs also believe in “sharing the wealth” of these tips they’ve developed with younger brokers. “As the president and one of the most senior brokers at my firm [as well as] one of the partners, I have a vested interest in sharing this knowledge, and believe that I can make an impact on their careers if they are willing to listen,” says Renaud. “We run ‘lunch and learns’ and I often have one-on-one discussions with the younger brokers. I share ‘war stories’ with them on the power of being dedicated to your craft, planning your work, and working your plan. I also feel that bringing younger brokers into projects allows them to shadow me, and I like to think that some good stuff has rubbed off as some great talent has been groomed under my team.”NEW TIPS FROM TECHNOLOGY
Just because these tips are “timeless,” does that mean they are static? What about new developments, like technology? Could they be the source of new tips?
“I believe in using technology that you have learned and perfected in your practice in the commercial real estate arena,” says Skoglin.
“Technology can be your friend and your foe,” cautions Renaud. “In my view, technological tools are best used to help create impact and efficiency in your business, but too often [they can] become all-consuming. The key to leveraging technology is to decide what’s most important and to not try to do it all. I’ve seen too many people develop the ultimate CRM tool, only to then not pick up the phone and call their clients; you cannot replace the human touch of meeting in-person or having a live conversation through technology platforms.”
And what about their “rosters” of tips? Have they changed over the years, or have they remained consistent? “These tips have generally not changed over the years; I’m still the same hard-working guy that I was back in my early 20s,” says Renaud. However, he adds, “I certainly continue to fine-tune my craft and try to learn new techniques to stay sharp, on point, and not plateau.”
A great example of this, he says, is that he “quietly” sought a coaching role with Massimo Group. “Aside from the extra ‘play money,’ the thrust for my interest was that I always believed that you can really sharpen your focus by teaching what you know, which is what I did with several top-performing real estate professionals during that period,” he shares.
“If I think about it, there are things I did not know when I first got started. I did not think about the importance of staying in touch with people I’ve had the success of concluding deals with.”
For Martin, there are certainly things he’s learned along the way. “If I think about it, there are things I did not know when I first got started,” he notes. “I did not think about the importance of staying in touch with people I’ve had the success of concluding deals with.”
For Skoglin, there is no doubt about the validity of his tips—nor in the fact that they stand the test of time. “I believe these attributes are timeless!” he enthuses.
This article was sponsored by the SIOR Foundation - Promoting and sponsoring initiatives that educate, enhance, and expand the commercial real estate community. The SIOR Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-forprofit organization. All contributions are tax deductible to the extent of the law.
Frank Martin, SIOR
Rob Renaud, SIOR
John Skoglin, SIOR