I’m talking about a commercial real estate broker, not a life partner, but the decision process can actually be quite similar. Commercial real estate is a major financial commitment and investment; having the right broker on your side from the get-go is essential.
So how do you know which broker will be the best for you? Much like dating, one of the best resources is friends and colleagues. Ask business owners you trust who they have dealt with—this will most likely yield some referrals and perhaps some names to stay away from.
I’ve Got a Short List, Now What?
Ask The Right Questions
“Don’t tell me how good you are, tell me what you can do for me.”
There is only one thing you should be looking for in a broker: the ability to add real value to your business. Before meeting with a broker, make sure you provide them with a good idea of your needs and goals so that he or she has an opportunity to present viable options to you. Push them to demonstrate how they will deliver the best solutions for your business, not simply flaunt past accomplishments.
If you’re unsure of what questions to ask, keep the following guidelines in mind and frame your questions around answering them:
- How will he or she reposition the property to create greater value or quickly fill vacant space?
- Does he or she have the negotiating skills to effectively represent your position to the counterparty?
- Can he or she explicitly explain and defend the value he or she will add?
Ask for References
Make sure to ask for references. When speaking to references, ask what the broker did or didn’t do for them, this will provide a good gauge of how they will perform for you.
Beware of Simple Broker-to-Broker Marketing (for selling or leasing clients)
Broker marketing involves solely marketing a property from broker to broker. In this digital information age, this type of marketing offers marginal utility; energy and marketing dollars are better spent elsewhere.
Hire the Broker, Not the Company
You are hiring the broker, not the company.
Most commercial real estate firms have the same resources and contacts—it’s really the broker, not the brand name, who gets results. Choose a broker that appeals to you and your needs, not one that works for a company you like.
Finding ‘The One’
The best way to scout for commercial real estate brokers is through referrals from friends and colleagues you trust. Once you’ve put together a shortlist of potentials make sure to ask the right questions, ask for—and check—references, beware of broker-to-broker marketing, and make sure your final decision is based on the broker and not the company.