Externally, one place most people start is an industrial broker. Your broker is the person responsible for representing your interests in the marketplace. They have a fiduciary obligation to serve you with honesty, integrity, and transparency. Commercial real estate brokers are next to attorneys and accountants in the Rolodex of trusted advisors for any c-level executive. Every few years, executives reach inflection points where they need to make adjustments and capital investments within their business, and these inflection points usually are of the magnitude where they have facility implications. These facility implications are why real estate brokers are one of the first calls.
The most preliminary level of expertise expected in a commercial real estate broker is knowledge and expertise in their local market. You should expect your broker to be a trusted participant in the market in which you do business, whereby he or she knows, and is known by, the other market players. These relationships instantly raise your firm’s credibility within the marketplace as you work your way through different opportunities in the market and with your existing landlord.
Expertise in a local market will grow into knowledge as a single point of contact as the business grows. There are only a few brokers in any given brokerage firm that have this level of expertise. Having a single point of contact broker is even less prevalent with small and medium-sized businesses. Most businesses grow to different markets and utilize various brokers in each market. Few make the mental shift to consolidating those relationships into a single point of contact. Just as a c-level executive has to build a team and trust in that team, the same goes for brokers.
The ideal outcome of a mature business operating out of multiple warehouses is to have one trusted broker that reports to the c-level executive. This broker is part of a brokerage firm that has the appropriate amount of scale to access any market the company does business and excels at working with local brokers in each of these markets. The benefit of the shift in this approach comes from simplification. We’ll cover this in great detail in the Corporate Solutions chapter near the end of the book as this is only relevant to the company’s operating at scale.
The next most impactful level of expertise expected in a commercial real estate broker is in understanding your company’s operations. This operational knowledge is where the difference in experience and education varies widely from broker to broker. Is it possible to be able to represent your interests with only a cursory understanding of your business? Possible but unlikely. The more alignment there is here, the better. It is common for c-level executives to stick with one trusted broker throughout their business careers. The more a broker can demonstrate an intimidate knowledge of the company’s finance and operations and their interplay within the facility, the more the c-level executive can believe in that broker.
The third and most important criterion that executives look for from their broker is execution skills. It is one thing to know the market, and to know the business, and it is another to be able to wield those skills in a manner that creates new opportunities. This creativity is where the trust factor can multiply your capabilities dramatically. When your broker has a proven record of execution, they have been able to understand an executive’s vision, lead repeatedly, and collaborate with their team, manage expectations, market participants, and deliver.
Lastly, in addition to expertise and execution, clients look to brokers to be a conduit through which they can find talented team members for any aspect of the process on an a la carte basis. Executives trust that if their broker is willing to bring someone to the team that they have a good working relationship with that vendor. Not only do executives expect that exceptional service at a fair price, they expect their vendors to think ahead to make the right decisions to help the organization continue to prosper and grow.