10 Things I Learned in 10 Years of Commercial Real Estate
Dan Van Nada, CCIM
December 2022 – Last week I posted the first half of the 10 things I learned during my first 10 years in Commercial Real Estate. You can check that out HERE. Below is the rest of my 10 lessons learned!
6. Collaboration pays dividends – When figuring out commission percentage splits on a deal within more than one broker, it can initially feel like your percentage of the commission is shrinking or that you’re giving away money. I have found that often, collaborating is the best way to “grow the pie” and increase the platform. Sharing with others in an “abundance mentality”, believing that there’s truly enough to go around, in turn helps others want to collaborate and bring you in on their own deals as well.
7. Stewardship Mentality – Our company’s mission statement is “Building Wealth and Trust Through Stewardship”. Although somewhat of an archaic word in today’s society, “Stewardship” essentially means to care for something as if it were your own. We look after our clients’ commercial properties as if they were our own, and that builds long-term trust with our clients. They know we aren’t just focused on the deal at hand, but the long-term care of the asset.
8. Ask the extra question – Too often in our dealings with potential clients (or sometimes even current clients), we will be far into the handling of a leasing account, only to be asked if we “could help them on the sale of the asset?”, or on a management account, “you guys don’t do leasing as well, do you?”. This can often be solved by remembering to ask our clients and potential clients “the extra question”. “I know we’re working to lease these last two spaces up for you, but what would your ideal plans be once you’re 100% leased? Would you prefer to hold it and let it cash flow, or might you be open to selling it if we could get a solid price for it?”. Remembering to ask these extra questions helps you better serve the client while growing the relationship and the platform.
9. Pitching: Client First, Company Last – Salespeople often feel the need to begin by telling a prospective client why a product or service they provide is superior to all others. This is especially nonsensical if you’re in a specific industry and market that has a number of quality firms. Instead, while pitching to a prospective client, we intentionally start with a focus on the client and their specific needs, hopes and goals for the property. Do they want to position the asset to sell at the next top of the market, or might they be looking to hold the property as a legacy asset for their children? Next, we focus on the asset itself, and how its strengths and drawbacks fit within the client’s goals. Only after fully covering the first two, do we begin to speak to how our expertise can help the client achieve their goals, and how we can best position the asset in a way that puts the client in a position of strength. This is important because each subject in that focus continuum builds on the subject prior. Not to mention, it avoids ever coming across like the guy who tells you “I’m the only one who sells quality widgets, and oh by the way, what was it you were hoping to buy again?”
10. Define success as long-term, and remember where that success comes from – While it can feel great to be the top broker in the office for a particular year and be hailed as a “rainmaker”, I have found that a surer, deeper, and steadier view of success has been to have the ability to weather the storms of both up years and down years, and to have been able to provide for my family over a decade of CRE. In those peaks and valleys, it’s been essential to remember that every opportunity and every deal has been granted to me by the Big Man Upstairs. I certainly have to do my part and work hard, while keeping in mind that Proverbs says “the horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” as well as “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
I appreciate the chance to write from a more personal perspective, and deeply appreciate all those who have helped me learn these lessons over the years. Here’s to another 10 years, and certainly many more lessons to be learned.