Successful Team Structures in Commercial Real Estate Leasing

In commercial real estate leasing brokerage the team structure and approach to property market activity and client contact cannot be ignored; it can give you an advantage in the marketplace in any town or city.

Respect the leasing market for what it is and build plenty of momentum exclusively specialising in the property requirements of tenants and landlords.  There are pressures to address and occupancy issues to be matched.

The leasing team approach

There are plenty of examples where two or more leasing agents working together have easily controlled and monopolised a good share of the property leasing market place across business types, tenants, and landlords.  In saying that, when you get multiple agents working on leasing into a zone, town or city, you need some rules to determine how things are done and how clients are served.

What opportunities do you have now?

To make a commercial real estate brokerage leasing team work successfully you should consider how you will handle the special parts of the business and particularly the best properties, the best leasing precincts, and the best clients.

You could call these the ‘VIP channels’ for business growth and they should be central to your prospecting model when it comes to both tenants and landlords.   Most of your new business should come from those ‘channels’.  Consider establishing leasing teams that specialise in the local property segments that offer the best levels of opportunity over time.  Here are some questions to help with that:

  • What is the future supply of lettable space like?
  • What property types will be the most popular and why?
  • Where will people want to locate?
  • What is the demand for property now and how will that change?
  • What business segments are the most active and how is that expected to change?
  • Who are the biggest tenants locally?
  • Who are the most active landlords locally?

These are important questions, especially if your leasing market is to be tapped into comprehensively.  You will need special people in your team to fill the right positions if leasing listings and commissions are to be encouraged in the right property and client segments over time.

Each major client and or property precinct would have a team structure with a team leader at the very top.  That team leader would be quite experienced and also respected in the marketplace.  They will be the client manager for the top accounts.  They should be seen as the ‘go to person’ when it comes to leasing a quality building, servicing a top tenant, or helping a valuable investor with vacancies.

Skills of a team leader in property leasing

The team leader would be a proven performer in the leasing market.  They would also command and hold the respect of the other team members based on tenant and landlord results.  Previous leasing successes in the property marketplace will allow that respect to grow.  From the team leader down, each member of the leasing team should be continually assessed as to performance and results with the key business indicators such as:

  • Database growth
  • Marketing money converted
  • Leasing commissions per transaction
  • Leasing listings time on market
  • Client referrals
  • Client types
  • Vacancy appointments
  • Building quality
  • Project leasing
  • Exclusive listings

This effective team performance model is centred on the requirement for leasing specialisation tuned to market conditions, property types, and client profiles.  There is a real need to watch the right ‘key performance indicators’ across the team so both landlord and tenant services can be improved; when you are involved in leasing the better buildings in your location, the tenant enquiry and the landlords follow.

The VIP approach

Some top brokers and agents are sufficiently skilled to move across property disciplines and property types when a client need dictates.  Understand your clients in commercial real estate leasing and match the skills of the team to particular clients.  Where necessary the team leader should get involved with high profile property presentations with all ‘VIP’ landlords and tenants.

Here is an example of a team structure for a brokerage ‘leasing team’:

  1. Team leader – This person should understand the local property market and the leasing issues in a comprehensive way. The best team leaders are those that have been successful at leasing locally and already have their database of landlords and tenants to draw upon when it comes to quality leasing opportunities and investment properties.  They will know how to strategically lease the various property types including office, retail, and industrial property types.  They will know how to handle rental strategies, vacancy issues, tenant mix requirements, and clustering strategies.
  2. Leasing operatives for city zones – Set zones of property coverage across the team so that all leasing operatives know where they should concentrate their efforts in working with all landlords, investors, and tenants. There will always be plenty of businesses and investors in any town or city to tap into when it comes to leasing opportunity; any prospecting model should be street and zone specific so ‘no stone in left unturned’.  The direct approach is usually the best to ‘open the door’ on future leasing requirements.  A cold call prospecting model combined with the systemised door knocking local businesses will be the best way to cover the location and all the upcoming property opportunities.
  3. Specialist leasing operatives for property types – Recognise the uniqueness of some property types, precincts, and locations. Appoint particular people to special properties and unique clients (e.g. medical, bulky goods, professional services, legal, and retail).  With some property types, experience will be a valuable factor in converting enquiry and serving a particular client or property.  The combination of an experienced leasing agent and a leasing ‘cadet’ will usually work quite well as a specialist approach to certain property types and clients.
  4. Tenant representatives – Some leasing specialists will be more comfortable and successful in working as tenant representatives or as ‘tenant advocates’. The focus in doing so should be entirely directed towards corporate tenants and those with large occupancy needs.  Small tenants have little interest in paying bigger fees for leasing services.   Conversely most corporate tenants do not have the people, the time or the energy to check out the factors of the leasing market and the current market conditions; they need help.  Corporate tenants are also prepared to pay reasonable commissions and marketing fees for leasing services offered.  They have a real need for professional leasing help.
  5. Support staff – Most successful agents and brokers working the leasing segment of the property market will usually have dedicated administrative support that they can rely on when it comes to marketing, client follow-up, documentation, and database management. There is an added advantage here evolving from this process; the administrative staff will usually take care of the paperwork side of the business thereby maintaining accuracy and documentary integrity for each and every agent, no matter how busy those agents may be.

There is a simple message here to be remembered when it comes to team structures in commercial real estate leasing.  Specialisation is quite important in commercial and retail property leasing today.  Devote the right people in your leasing team to the right properties and the right clients.  Provide the backroom support for all of your agents and brokers in the leasing team.  In that way they can connect with increasing numbers of tenants and landlords locally.

(N.B. these ideas are also sent out to regularly to our friends in Commercial Real Estate Online Snapshot to help amplify brokerage results…. Get your access here)

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