Don’t you wish you had a crystal ball that could tell you, with clarity, what the future holds for the commercial real estate market?
That might be wishful thinking, but I do have four predictions on how leading commercial real estate agencies will drive results in the future:
- A greater emphasis on diversity.
- The creation of more leverage.
- Less time on personal relationships and more focus on the importance of data.
- The increased use of processes that retain know-how and create efficiencies.
Let’s break these down – and explain how you can get ahead of these trends.
DE&I stands for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Being committed to DE&I means creating a more welcoming environment for people of less privileged identities, which is not only the right thing to do, but also a huge opportunity for our industry.
Aside from gender, other areas to consider include people’s disability status, ethnic background, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, their age and more.
As you think about your team, do you see a commitment to DE&I?
If you don’t, you may be at a disadvantage because businesses that are more diverse perform better; they have more innovative ideas and attract a broader range of clients – including people that want to see themselves reflected in the agencies they work with, and those who believe in DE&I ideals.
Sidebar: if you notice DEIB, the B is for belonging. This expands DE&I to creating a workplace where people can belong – which is, of course, relevant to commercial real estate.
When you see the word leverage, you may think about financing.
But leverage is also created by focusing on activities that create a greater impact and produce a bigger outcome at scale.
A leveraged activity includes showing someone how to do something that you repeatedly do yourself, and then letting them get on with doing it again and again, so you can spend your time on higher value activities.
You can create leverage when you repurpose content. An example is recording a listing video and then uploading it in various formats across different channels.
You probably already create leverage with digital marketing – because you write an email once, and it reaches multiple people.
Importantly, technology now allows you to create this leverage while still offering a degree of personalisation via (well-maintained) databases and relevance through targeting.
Speaking of the importance of data, clients will rely on it even more to make decisions in the future, while service providers will mine data to find new clients – and then demonstrate their market coverage through the data they have.
This means that relationships will become less important. Not meaningless, but certainly not the be-all-and-end-all of how clients make decisions.
It’s no longer enough to rely on your relationships to secure and retain business. Clients are more sophisticated than that.
Decision-makers want credible partners – and data is the currency that will be used in favour of long lunches to demonstrate that you’re a specialist with the capability to create superior outcomes.
So, even if you’re not friends with the prospect, just being a friendly and cooperative person with quality data to back up your credentials can put you in the box seat against a sticky incumbent.
When you win a listing, what are the 23 things you know must be done before the campaign begins?
When a tenant signs a lease on a property you manage, what are the 16 steps that occur before they move in?
Even if they know what they all are, and never miss them, more of my clients are documenting the way things get done – and they are using cloud-based software to create processes, manage projects and assign responsibilities.
Processes can be straight-forward checklists, or they might be detailed standard operating procedures, with how-to manuals. Either way, processes reduce errors and drive efficiencies.
Creating processes should be a team activity to ensure you’re capturing the very best practices that exist in your organisation.
Doing this removes the risk that businesses face when employees leave and take their know-how with them, and creates the situation where you have a broader talent pool to hire from (because people with less experience become easier to train).
What to do with these predictions?
In a fast-paced industry with changing markets, a bit more clarity about the future is not a bad thing.
The problem with predictions, of course, is that they can be inaccurate.
Whether or not you agree with these predictions, knowing them – and understanding the ideas in this article – will help you formulate goals and take actions that are more aligned with whatever the future may bring.