Friday, July 12, 2013

Do Not Change Commercial Brokerage Without Asking These Questions

man with briefcase
Plan your change of brokerage.

As a commercial real estate agent may from time to time want to change commercial real estate brokerage.  That may be for a variety of situations; however the choices you make in the change are really important.

Don’t rush into the change without investigation.  There is no point in moving to a new brokerage that you have not fully checked out.  

Not all brokerages are equal, if you know what I mean.  Understand all the elements of employment and market share before you move across to the new brokerage.

Here are some facts for you:

  • Support and administration are really important when you are working in the industry.  Listing, prospecting, marketing, and negotiating all involve a high degree of paper work and follow-up.  Some of those things are typically (or should be) shared into the ‘administration team’.  In that way the broker or agent can get more of the right things done.  So you need to ask the question, ‘How will the support team provide back-up on listing, marketing, documents, and database?’
  • Marketing a property can be complex.  Advertisements will need to be drawn up and lodged into the media outlets and onto the internet.  Standard layouts on advertising will help although the advertisement has to be written and drafts approved by the client.  It all takes time.
  • Marketing yourself is a personal issue; however you will require some marketing support tools from your brokerage.  In other words you will need a good supply of professional branding materials.  What will the brokerage supply to you as you canvass the market and speak to lots of property owners and tenants?
  • Telephone costs will be an issue and a potentially high cost.  You can establish and control the cost of your mobile telephone, but what about the office telephone on your desk?  Will you be required to pay for its use and cost?  From an individual business point of view, it is better if you can use your mobile telephone number on your business cards.  When you move you take your mobile telephone with you.
  • Signboard costs including erection and replacement will be a cost to relate to.  Are you expected to pay for the cost of the signs on your listings?  Who will be putting up the signboards, and how will they be maintained?
  • Ownership of contacts and data is always an issue.  Restriction on use of your database and contact information can be imposed on you through an employment agreement, so always read what you sign and understand the implications of the document for the future. 
  • Stationery costs will exist.  What are you expected to pay for when it comes to business cards, letter head, photographs, and brochures?  What is the printing cost and is that competitive?  Don’t forget to ask about postage costs as well.
  • Website listings and marketing in any new employer or brokerage may be professional or not so.  Review the on-line marketing strategy of your ‘preferred brokerage’ to ensure that they really understand what they are doing on-line and that they have a plan that is professional and productive for agents.
  • Social media activities should be allowed to occur within reason and to a plan.  In the business sense you should be allowed to write articles, blog, and use your social media channels to boost your client and customer contact.
  • Exclusive listings are a priority in commercial real estate marketing.  That being said, the effort that you put into the exclusive marketing campaign will be significant (and should be).  The more exclusive listings that you have at any one time, the busier you will be.  How will that workload be shared or supported?
  • Commissions will vary from property type to property type, and broker to broker.  The same can be said for the commission that you get from a sale or lease situation.  So what will be your base commission and how will that escalate with ‘improved performance?’  It pays to get a good understanding of other ‘commission packages’ around the industry.  Seek a fair and reasonable commission on a personal basis.
  • Base salary (excluding commission) can be a consideration as you get started in a new brokerage, however in most cases the debit and credit calculations from base salary will require ‘payback’ from commissions.  Be prepared to work hard so the ‘debit’ does not get too high and uncontrollable.
  • Market share or precinct control can be a bonus or a restriction.  Make sure that you will not be hampered in your property type or area of coverage.  Ask about the interaction that you will have with other agents in the team.  Find out how conjunction commissions and situations will occur.  Will the ratios be fair and convenient?  Are there set rules?
  • Find out about agent and broker training.  In our industry the training issue is really important.  Understand just how you will be allowed or encouraged to improve your skills in negotiation, marketing, documentation, and listing.

So you can see from the list that you have some important things to ask if you want to change brokerage.  The ‘grass is not always greener’, so check all the facts first before you make the move to another brokerage.

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