Putting A Face On Commercial Real Estate
I have been involved in the past few months with my state commercial board on a committee for membership issues and member involvement. Don’t click off; this is not about how we (the committee) are saving the commercial real estate world one member at a time. The important part of my involvement was somewhat of a revelation I had personally.
The committee started out with a very thorough and in depth survey of its membership, and one of those whiteboard, breaks into groups SWOT type things. Stop giggling, it was actually very productive. The interesting part of the data for me was the total disconnect that the membership has with not only segments of commercial real estate industry but any other affiliated industries. You would think that there are some very obvious connections. It may seem pretty ridiculous in this day and age of world connectivity that this could even be possible.
Bars Backrooms and Broads
Hey,let’s remember, we are in the land of Big Boy Commercial Real Estate. Not only is the industry perceived as back room deal makers, it does everything it can to perpetuate the image. Downtown high rise offices, pinstripes suits( I do love mine), LinkedIn profiles with all kinds of BA.MBA.CCIM SIOR IREM ICSC type of destinations. I have even seen some with Low GHIN numbers from their home club. Unfortunately, I can include myself in that group with the exception of the low GHIN. Check out a quote from me at a Commercial Real Estate conference “I golfed and drank whiskey for 10 years to get clients. What’s the ROI on that?” Not one of my finer moments. I can’t even begin to count the “charity”golf,drinking,dinner events I spent $250 per day to attend. As for the subtitle of this paragraph, Don’t Ask! While I’m sure these things were and are useful to some. What type of business was or is really created? What real long term connections are made? I’m sure that plenty of business does get done. Is it my own fault that I look back at some of this as a complete waste of time?
Here we stand today with the real world market staring us right in the face. Many jobs and brokers have been eliminated from the business.. No one will or can deny that reality. Think about the top two Commercial Real Estate brokers that you know personally. Can you call them on the phone right now? Are they still filtering their calls between putts? Are they approachable at all? Do they specialize in specific areas or can you ask them anything about real estate and get some guidance. What events do you see them at if any? Do you think they have ever heard of a Tweetup? I am a member of a local networking group with 2500 members and I am one of 3 commercial brokers in the membership. That’s all? I like my odds. Here is a good question. Are they still in the Commercial Real Estate business at all? Or did they just bail out when the order taking stopped?
My little revelation
Change adapt or get eliminated. Simple statement. While serving on the committee one of the conversations led to our want need or necessity to create value to our membership. Several suggestions were made but one hit like a nuclear bomb. The membership needs to put a face on commercial real estate. In simple terms no one really knows who the hell we are. And we do a piss poor job of not only telling anyone who we are and what we do, but the culture is encouraging this practice.
So, what to do? I raised my little hand, (My military experience aside, I did it anyway.) Our state commercial board is made up of districts. Each district has a designated representative. What do they do? Who knows. I think they are suppose to communicate to the membership…stuff. I have never met,talked to or been contacted by whoever has or is representing my district.. EVER. Shocking?…not really. Each district can pretty much do whatever they want. Which to my knowledge has been …nothing. I digress. So, again in my opinion what to do:
- Mandatory (as in you can’t be a member if you don’t show up) quarterly meetings with commercial membership. We don’t even know each other so how can anyone else. Gee, we might actually work on some deals together.
- Create and sponsor events in local markets that let other industries understand what a vital service we provide. There are some really smart people in Commercial Real Estate . What is our story? Why do they need us?
- Yearly testing to maintain membership. (Always lip service, nothing ever done) Sleeping through Continuing Ed… embarrassing.
- Advertising campaign…Hell no! There is this new thing called the Internet. You are on the the memberships sites and groups with updated profile information. Or you get fined. Hey, maybe a client might find you,want to know a little more info about you and the property you represent and do some actual business.
- Mandatory standards for technology. This list could get extensive,but let’s start with turning a computer on. I know F to F and Belly to Belly.. but save it for now.
- Genuine connections. Don’t just connect the old way. We have a chance to truly connect in ways never thought of and create beneficial relationships.
- Accountability. To our clients… for the suggestions above.
I have two conference calls this week to discuss some of the this. I wonder how it will be received?