Commercial real estate brokerage is similar to other types of property. As an agent, you must logically and consistently work your territory. Your success in the process will give you a greater listing opportunity and future deals.
This will have an immediate impact on your income and your success. You must be diligent and logical in approaching territory management and control. We call the territory your ‘patch’. How do you manage and control your ‘patch’ now?
Your Real Estate Territory Control
In controlling your territory, you must do so geographically, street by street, so that you do not miss any properties or create any ‘blackspots’ 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 agent board on the property soon after offering it for sale or lease.
Nothing can be more frustrating than seeing another agent’s signboard in your geographical area and on a street you canvassed last week.
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Your Property Canvassing Object
You will be optimising your commercial real estate awareness and knowledge of several property matters in your work territory.
- 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 start, 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 on to the more secondary property, and after this has been secured, you will get the details of all remaining properties through your region.
It pays to get quickly active in the known property ‘hotspots’ such as industrial parks and office business precincts, so you can find ‘hot’ listings before they go to other salespeople or agents.
Territory 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 thereto
- 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 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 sold approximately three years ago and beyond, as these are the next properties that will enter the sales arena for disposal.
- Details of properties leased approximately three years ago and beyond, as these are the next properties that will need leasing services.
- Details of property owners that bought a property about three years ago in the region, as they are most likely to be sufficiently cashed up to acquire another property again soon.
This information will help you understand the future opportunity and can help you 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: first, using the telephone diligently to contact key people on the above list; and second, driving the streets to view necessary identified properties and activity in the region.
The more consistently you can get into your area physically to see the right properties and meet the right people, the better you will understand the territory. You need to picture or relate to 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 with 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.
Building Ownership Information
If you work with buildings with multiple tenancies, such as an office or retail building, you need to enter the property foyer and write down all the details 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 allows you to contact the building tenants via telephone the next day for a meeting. In all cases, you must meet with key people as much as possible to establish a 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 regarding the business offering and business type
- whether they need to expand or contract
- if they are on a lease, you need to know the expiration date of the lease
- get as much detail as possible regarding the property, such as rent, size, and landlord details.
- 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 mainly deal with the business and investment communities that react to property needs and logic.
The ‘emotions’ of residential real estate and the ‘mums and dads’ are no longer a problem. It should be noted that the ‘start-up’ commercial real estate people dealing with the bottom end of the market frequently must handle the smaller family-based investors, which can be frustrating. Your target market is your choice; always move up the ladder of ‘prospect quality’ and you will earn better money.
Adopt a Survey Approach to Data
In addition to the above, some successful larger agents adopt a regular survey approach every six months where a standard form survey is sent to all the businesses in their region.
The survey 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 relevant information at the right time. Surprisingly, this approach can be successful when repeated every six months. Do not email this survey, but mail it. It has been proven that mail will 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 we have detailed above.
Collation of Property Information
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 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 entered into the database at the end of the working day. As appropriate, this becomes the foundation of your telephone calls for the next day or in the future.
You must have a good database software program that supports you effectively. 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 inexpensive and can easily be accessed online. Try not to use the basic version of Microsoft Outlook as a cheap alternative for this. Spend money on a real CRM tool that supports you well, specifically designed for commercial real estate.
The above detail is called ‘property farming’ or ‘territory optimisation’. Every salesperson on the team must carry it out every day. This is the only way to achieve consistent growth, market control, and necessary deals. You should adopt a three- or four-hour process each day for the above farming activities.