When I first started in the commercial real estate business, brokers had one goal — to successfully connect two parties and earn a commission. Nearly 25 years later everything and nothing has changed.
THE BROKER FARMER. Back in the day successful brokers “farmed” areas to find new business. You focused your energies on getting to know every property and tenant in a geographic region because your goal was to gain control of the area. Gaining a presence was everything. Once an owner saw your leasing signs going up you had your calling card and entrée to the market.
ONLY 2-3 WEEKS BEFORE THE PROPERTY IS EXPOSED! With the listing in hand, now it was time to get to work. First step, get a sign installed and put together a brochure which would be printed and ready to mail in only 2-3 weeks!! Next, list the vacancies in The Smith Guide (for an amusing article, check out the LA Times coverage of Smith Guide controversy circa 1993) and the AIR — PRINTED publications every broker received bimonthly. Each month I sorted through stacks of 20-plus broker mailings and packages of fliers. I also spent copious amounts of time researching on microfiche or with the Criss+Cross Directory.
HIT THE STREETS. Prospect, prospect, prospect… call, call, call. A former colleague of mine made it very simple — if you were sitting in your office and not on the phone, then you were not working! You came in the office early to get your “paperwork” done–if not in the morning, then in the evening after your day in the field was complete. You WERE in the field all day; marketing your properties, calling on prospects, looking for new opportunities. Time in the office was to follow up on your marketing efforts, return calls to inquiries, and communicate with your clients.
WE GOT A WHAT MACHINE? Fax machines were slowly creeping into the industry at the time, which meant spending 10 minutes hoping that all of the pages would go through on the first try, then making a phone call to confirm it was received. However, many of the old school guys never trusted a fax so agreements continued to be delivered and negotiated in person.
Our reliance on technology has completely transformed how the commercial real estate industry operates. Sophisticated e-marketing, web sites, online databases and social media have expanded our marketing reach exponentially. Property information is available 24/7 with just a click. We can strategically assemble significant research data specific to any property and gather all relevant information in less time than it takes to actually drive to a property.
There is no doubt that technology has made us better providers of service to our clients. The speed, availability and mobility of information for the commercial real estate industry is amazing, but technology cannot stand on its own in a relationship business. And if every broker relies on the same technology… what makes us different? A focus on the relationship.
Our brokerage team embraces all new technologies that make us better at what we do, and we use every available marketing tool to produce the best results for our clients. However, Coreland Companies also prioritizes what cannot be replaced by technology—hard work and long-term relationships.
At the end of the day, and 25 years later, nothing has changed!
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Steven Hogberg is Coreland Companies Senior Vice President of Brokerage. In this capacity Mr. Hogberg has direct responsibility for the Leasing and Sales division, which negotiates and closes more than 300 commercial transactions per year and is responsible for representing institutional and private commercial property owners across Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire.