Commercial real estate is similar to other types of property in that you must logically and consistently work your territory. Your success in the process will give you greater listing opportunity and future deals. This will have immediate impact on your income and your success. This says that you must therefore be diligent and logical and how you approach territory management and control. We call the territory your ‘patch’.
In controlling your territory, you must do so geographically street by street, so that you do not miss any properties or create any ‘black spots’ or ‘holes’ in your information. Many agents and salespeople have had situations where they have overlooked a simple small property in their canvassing processes only to find another agents board on the property offering it for sale or lease. Nothing can be more frustrating than seeing another agent’s signboard located inside your geographical area and a street that you canvassed last week.
Your Canvassing Object
In the territory that you work you will be optimising your commercial real estate awareness and knowledge of a number of property matters.
They are –
- Existing businesses
- Vacant land
- Redundant properties
- Development sites
- Property zoning areas and policies
- Owner occupiers of property
- Investor property owners of property
- Tenants occupying property
- Allied professional property related groups and people (solicitors, accountants, engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, valuers, town planners)
- Local Council Planning officers
The list is not finite, and can be improved to the specific nature of your region. To get thing started, firstly every major property in your territory must be high on the agenda for identifying ownership details and location. When you have this detail you move to more secondary property, and after this has been secured you will then get the detail of all remaining property through your region.
It pays to get quickly active in the known property ‘hotspots’ such as industrial parks, and office business precincts, so that you can find to ‘hot’ listings before they go to other salespeople or agents.
Mapping and Planning
The best way to control your long term activities is to get a street map of the area and then work the geographic location in stages.
Essentially you need to understand your area in great detail and have a solid awareness of the following matters –
- property ownership
- tenants and decision makers therein
- property zoning and potential changes there to
- property prices by property type and region
- property rental by property type and region
- property outgoings by property type and region
- lease detail and tenancy detail for all major and targeted properties
- a lease expiry profile for all major buildings and for the region
- regional business demographics
- regional population demographics
- regional economic demographics
- road changes and major traffic flows
- other competition properties and listings
- other agents in the area and their listings
- recent sales results in the area
- Details of properties that have been sold approximately three years ago and beyond, as these are the next properties that will enter the sales arena for disposal.
- Details of properties that have been leased approximately three years ago and beyond, as these are the next properties that will have a need for leasing services.
- Details of property owners that bought property about three years ago in the region as they are most likely to be sufficiently cashed up to acquire again soon.
This information will help you understand future opportunity and position your services such as sales, leasing, and property management.
Capturing and Analysing information
The two essential canvassing processes which must be part of your daily activities are firstly using the telephone diligently to contact key people in the above list, secondly a logical method of driving the streets to view necessary identified properties and activity in the region. The more that you can get into your area physically to see the right properties and meet the right people, the better you will be in understanding the territory. You need to picture the properties and locations easily.
The best way to gather and optimise information is to have a simple ‘standard form’ created on a word processor which has all the necessary detail ‘blanks’ where you can enter relevant information as you drive around the area or meet with people. You carry these simple forms with you at all times so that you can capture any identified property opportunity.
If you work with buildings that can have multiple tenancies such as office or retail buildings, you need to enter the property foyer and write down all the detail of occupants from the directory board. Some agents carry a small Dictaphone or recording device just for this purpose; you can dictate six times faster than you can write. This then gets transposed to paper when you return to the office.
This constant contact farming process then allows you to get in touch with the building tenants via telephone the next day for a potential meeting. In all cases, you need to meet with key people as much as possible to establish sound one on one relationship and the basic foundations of trust.
When talking with businesses and key people that occupy premises or property in your region, the following information is essential –
- whether they are a tenant or an owner
- details regards the business offering and business type
- whether they need to expand or contract
- if they are on a lease you need to know the expiry of the lease
- get as much detail regards the property such as rent, size, and landlord detail
- the name of the decision maker
- the demographics of the business
No matter what the state of the economy, businesses are always in a change state and need the assistance of professional real estate agents to help them with property disposal, occupancy, or relocation. This is one of the major advantages of commercial real estate in that you are mainly dealing with the business and investment community which reacts to property needs and logic. The ‘emotions’ of residential real estate and the ‘mums and dads’ therein are no longer a problem. It should be noted that the ‘start-up’ commercial real estate people that deal with the bottom end of the market, frequently must handle the smaller family based investors and this can be frustrating. Your target market is your choice; always move up the ladder and you will earn better money.
Adopt a Survey Approach
In addition to the above, some successful larger agents adopt a regular survey approach each six months where a standard form survey is sent to all the businesses in their region. The survey simply asks the businesses to identify any property needs or pressures that they envisage in the coming two years and asks them to return the form so that you can assist them with relative information at the right time. It is surprising how successful this approach can be when repeated each six months. Do not email this survey, but mail it or fax it. It has been proven that mail and fax get a far larger response.
The survey approach when adopted should be followed up by diligent telephone contact and follow-up meetings with business leaders. The survey approach does not replace the one on one contact that we have detailed above.
Collation of Information
You will have noted that all the information above falls into particular categories such as property size, property area, ownership detail, rent detail, property prices, and business type. You need to transpose this information into a searchable database on your own computer. You then take ownership of the information and the accountability for its accuracy and necessary follow-up. The standard form approach used to collate information is then simply entered in the database at the end of the working day. This becomes the foundation of your telephone calls for the next day or in the future as appropriate.
You must have a good database software program that supports you affectively. This also says that you must be reasonably computer literate to maintain the accuracy of the database detail. Good commercial real estate agents today know the high value of obtaining property data and maintaining its accuracy; their future deals and opportunities rely on it.
Database software programs for customer relationship management are not expensive and can easily be accessed from the Internet. Try not to use the basic Microsoft Outlook as a cheap alternative for this. Spend money on a real CRM tool that supports you well. For those that need value for money try ACT by Sage or GOLDMINE. See how they suit your needs (we have used them for years).
All of the above detail is called ‘property farming’ or ‘territory optimisation’. It is to be done every day by each and every salesperson in the team. This is the only way to achieve consistent growth, market control, and the necessary deals. It is recommended that you adopt a 3 or 4 hour process each day for the above farming activities.