My father sold life insurance. I remember overhearing him talking to a neighbor about it at a cocktail party once. I may have only been seven, but I could sense that the topic had a deadening effect. As I got older, my lack of interest in the family business never changed. So, at 21, when it came around to the time to make a decision about what I was going to do for a living, it took me about two seconds to turn away the offer to join my dear father and decide instead to go into the sexy business of commercial real estate. A profession where dreams are built!
Now a mid-life vet of the real estate game, I can report that there is nothing sexy about the profession I chose. The decisions are complex and time-consuming. Our clients, often-busy executives, are quick to delegate the real estate decisions to managers. I can’t say that I blame them. Commercial real estate can be knotty, byzantine, convoluted, intricate and occasionally populated with people who are devious.
In another post, I wrote Why Going It Alone Is a Great Idea – where I cautioned against delegating real estate decisions to others with little real estate experience. In this post, I give a few tips from expert executive delegators that I have seen in action. When deciding whether to delegate or take control of the decisions yourself, keep the following in mind:
- How does real estate rank on your balance sheet as an asset or liability? Treat it accordingly.
- Forget about buying real estate, unless there is a concrete compelling reason. The amount you pay to lease is worth the flexibility you will get.
- Ask the project manager handling the real estate to keep the decision as quantitative as possible – then dare to be intuitive.
- Find an expert to help you. If you follow the tips in Go For Broker – An Exec’s Guide for Hiring a Broker for Today’s Complex Deals (a plug for my book you can find on Amazon) — you will maximize results by aligning everyone’s interests.
Recently we worked with a fast-growing technology company to open a new office in another state. The executive really impressed us by doing the following:
He created a vision for the office that was simple, practical and powerful: The executive took the time to build the case for the new office and he articulated it in one or two sentences. He used some concrete data, and he had a few examples, which were more like stories, that supported his vision for the new office.
“We can do it better together”: The executive said he chose us because he was “fed-up with the self-reliant, rugged-type of brokers who do not work as a team,” then he charged his project manager to lead the team with a professional space planner and attorney – all engaged before specifications were drafted, locations toured and proposals delivered to landlords.
He engaged a superior and energized project manager: The executive did not have someone on his staff available, so we helped him outsource the job to someone who understood that his job was to be in charge, not in control. The brokers were aligned on what needed to be accomplished and the timeline. We all used technology called Basecamp to communicate, establish tasks and maintain files. We set-up regular check-in times so that we updated on each other’s progress.
The result was that the executive was confident when delegating a project that became one of the company’s biggest assets. The bottom line is that in real estate, you can have some fun and maximize satisfaction and results when you surround yourself with others’ strengths!