As we look ahead to the New Year, it is natural to assess progress and make plans for improvement. Award-winning commercial real estate firms and their brokers know that working toward goals like innovation and social responsibility can pay great dividends. In striving to provide the best possible service to clients and improve overall performance, leaders in the CRE industry will need to focus on being more responsive, knowledgeable, and connected.
So, what are some of the essential practices for CRE success in 2017? Read on for some high points.
The smart use of technology contributes to our responsiveness and market knowledge, which is what makes brokers most valuable to their clients in today’s fast paced world. CRE tech has exploded in recent years, and there are dozens of platforms available that were developed specifically for commercial real estate, often by people who have worked in CRE themselves.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software remains one of these and an essential resource for real estate firms. Its importance has only increased in recent years as Big Data continues to change our landscape. According to Inman, as many as 70% of real estate agents use CRM to organize contact information. Where many fall short is properly utilizing it to maintain long-term relationships, automate tasks, and make service delivery more personalized.
Technology of course extends far beyond CRM software. From the growing ranks of the Internet of Things, constantly changing apps to the advent of virtual reality or VR – these tools offer solutions for a range of tasks including project management, leasing, accounting, marketing, and others, each assisting the team and the clients they serve.
Speaking of the “team”, it’s important to remember the impact that company culture has on performance. Providing proper support, advanced education and a unique platform keeps motivation and performance at a higher level. These same opportunities improve job satisfaction, which in turn can spur innovation and better problem solving.
Vibrant, growth driven firms are made up of engaged, motivated brokers and staff. They are also surrounded by the type of leaders who continually strive to maintain a best in class environment. The right culture develops successful team members who are able to carve out time to focus on goals and objectives, rather than only reacting to the questions, calls, and emails that come their way. Along with the judicious use of technology to help manage efficiencies, everyone benefits from a business setting that encourages pro-active, “big picture” thinking, and above all – integrity.
Personal interaction has always been at the core of the real estate industry. As a result, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of creating and maintaining a professional network. In addition to staying in contact with past clients, the best in CRE cultivate a strong and extensive network of industry contacts – including not just other brokers but also attorneys, developers, architects, accountants, and other top level service providers.
This means diligently maintaining, updating, and utilizing contact lists while creating opportunities for direct interaction. These should include attending local networking events and select conferences. Professional associations and community involvement are critical areas to become engaged in as well.
While industry consolidation only seems to be leading to larger firms with global reach and more expansive resources, it also provides an opportunity for differentiation.
Observe the current CRE marketplace. What is it about a particular salesperson or company in our industry that leaves a lasting impression – what makes them distinct? Without this, one runs the risk of being just another shade of vanilla.
With the continually increasing rate of change occurring all around us, effective CRE firms will challenge the status quo and break today’s “norm.” They will be able to see situations for what they are, but more importantly – what they actually can become. Above all, they will act swiftly and in the process set the pace for others to follow.