The 5 Challenges Of Owning and Managing a CRE Brokerage Firm

credit to the terrific Massimo blog

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with countless owners and managers of commercial real estate brokerage firms. As a part of helping them discover ways to build their success, by helping their agents grow their businesses, I have identified five key challenges brokerage owners and managers regularly face:

1. Recruiting Challenges. Brokerage owners and managers know the lifeblood of their business is their agent pool. Growing that pool is a challenging and time consuming process which requires both a diverse skill set as well as a clear strategy. Bringing in a fresh college graduate is a very different process from recruiting a disgruntled top producer from a competing firm. Each of these “elevator assets” need to be handled with care.

2. Brokerage Staff Challenges. Every broker is an individual, and they all need different things at different times from their manager. The best commercial real estate managers are trainers, mentors, coaches, business strategists, and, at times, psychoanalysts.  An old colleague of mine, John McDermott, once accurately summarized that a broker only wants their manager’s attention for one or two reasons; to bitch or to boast.    Likewise the manager has to deal with the administrative and support staff and ensures they are not only getting the job done, but getting the respect they deserve.

3. Business Development & Marketing Challenges. In addition to growing and managing a brokerage team, owners and managers of commercial real estate firms play a role in keeping their team busy. They have to wear two hats to do it. Sometimes, managers must oversee a marketing strategy that builds brand equity and opens doors for brokers to enter. At other times, brokerage managers must go into the field and both close sales with their brokers and generate live leads for them.

4. Operational Challenges. In addition to managing the team and the brand, leaders of commercial brokerages have to keep the lights on, satisfy the requirements of state licensing agencies and otherwise keep the office running. Along with these nuts and bolts issues, managers who want to succeed also need to collect and analyze performance data to understand where they are succeeding and where they need to work harder.

5. Challenges Getting to the Next Stage. The best managers that I work with also keep an eye on big-picture strategic considerations regarding the future of their firms. For example, they look for other brokerages in their market or in complementary markets that they should acquire or merge with. They also build a personal strategy for how they will relate to the brokerage in the future and for how their company will continue after them. Unfortunately, many managers are so overwhelmed by the other four challenges that they fail to give these crucial issues enough consideration.

Every one of these challenges may seem daunting, but you can become a master of all of them.

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