Ever heard the expression “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that counts”? Well in commercial real estate brokerage what you know does matter but it’s kind of useless if you don’t have a properly populated database of contacts upon which you can espouse that knowledge. Building and maintaining a solid database is arguably the fuel that drives the engine of your brokerage machine. I’m often amazed at the lengths that some agents will go to when trying to build their list of contacts. Some trudge it out looking up each property record, scouring the internet for phone numbers and scrubbing their information for accuracy. Some hire brokerage assistants or interns to do the work for them. Whatever the process, let’s examine what is really important in building your database:
1. We need client contact information. That means not just the ownership or buying entity, but the name, address, phone number and email address for a real human. Remember, a successful commercial real estate business is about person to person relationships.
2. We need lender contacts. Especially in the environment we have experienced over the past few years, it is extremely important to know who key decision makers are within the commercial real estate lending community. Opportunities about for commercial real estate agents who establish solid working relationships with key lenders.
3. We need co-brokerage contacts. When marketing our listings, the efficiencies of leveraging contacts within the commercial real estate brokerage community must be an important component. The buyer for your new listing may be in the database of a good commercial real estate agent in another area or another state. Having a database with agent contacts will strengthen the punch of any property marketing campaign.
Obviously to build and manage the above described key contact information could be a time consuming undertaking. Fortunately, in the internet age there are streamlining options that take some of the frustration out of the process. Yes, search features on some property appraiser websites are getting better. Social media and search engines improve your likelihood of finding your way to a key contact. But in these scenarios you or your staff are still the ones compiling the information and time is money.
Some technology types are figuring out ways to automate this process for commercial real estate agents by curating the data and keeping it up to date. I’ve been a subscriber to one such service for a couple of years. www.CREfirms.com is a subscription service that offers a complete database of key contacts in all of the three areas discussed above. The information is sortable and is delivered in a simple Excel format so it is easy to import it to whatever CRM system you use. CREfirms is a really affordable option to spending enormous amounts of time doing this research and it’s way less expensive than an assistant. From firsthand experience, I can highly recommend them. You can receive a 30 day free trial by going to www.CREfirms.com.
However you go about the process, never ignore the power of feeding your key contact database. Take what you know in commercial real estate and impress who you know by having those people in a well populated database.