This article is the first of a two-part series on commercial real estate property tours. The second part in the series looks at property tours from the perspective of commercial real estate broker on the tenant side of the transaction.
A landlord broker’s responsibility for a property tour goes far beyond simply walking a potential tenant around the space.
The ultimate goal is to find the ideal tenants for their available space, which – if done correctly – also involves a great deal of work before and after the actual tour.
Pre-Tour – Know Your Audience
Before a tour is even scheduled, it’s important to be open with prospective tenants about the space available, as well as financial terms.
Liz McLaughlin, an Associate with Cushman & Wakefield who is part of the leasing team for several 128 Central projects, says sharing preliminary pricing, lease terms, and build out timelines early on helps set the stage for a positive interaction.
“That level of transparency really helps put the tenant’s brokers at ease, so they can understand right off the bat if our property is a good fit for what the client is searching for financially,” she says.
After that, the focus shifts to researching the prospective tenant and who exactly will be attending the tour. Sometimes, the prospective client is touring confidentially, which makes some research impossible. But even if a tenant broker doesn’t share exactly who is attending, even understanding their roles in the organization can help.
Tours led by the CFO may have a stronger focus on financial aspects of a potential lease, while those including HR managers may lend themselves more to discussion about company culture and how a particular location can help attract and retain talent.
“There’s been a big shift during the past several years, and I feel as if I’m seeing more and more HR directors joining tours now than in the past,” says Duncan Gratton, an Executive Director at Cushman & Wakefield and part of the leasing team at LINX, 490 Arsenal Way, in Watertown. “They know that the culture of the company is at stake.”
Preparation Sets the Stage
On the day of the tour, it is important to arrive on-site early to ensure the property and individual space is ready for the tour.
Even if there have been frequent tours, things happen. So it’s important for brokers to check and ensure maintenance workers haven’t left anything in the space, and that everything is ready to go.
“Even if I was just there a few days ago, I always plan to get to the property early enough to do a quick walk through before the potential tenant arrives,” says Gratton. “If a key code on a door happened to be changed, you definitely don’t want to find out on the tour.”
Once the tour starts, McLaughlin says, it’s also important to not just bring tenants directly into the space and start giving a rehearsed sales pitch. The best way to understand that particular occupier’s needs is to ask questions and listen.
Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up
The work continues after the tour is over. If more than one leasing agent helped lead the tour, it’s important for them to sit down and share their impressions. When dealing with a large group, it’s impossible for one person to hear everything, and one agent may have a completely different view of how the space was received.
It’s also crucial, Gratton says, to always follow up with a tenant’s broker following a tour – a simple step which most tenant brokers would say is overlooked more often than not.
Reaching back out to the tenant brokers can help clarify any points which may have been unanswered during the tour, give additional detail on the surrounding area, or simply confirm whether or not the tenant is still interested in the space.
Fostering a positive relationship with those tenant brokers is a crucial part of being an effective landlord representative, and in the end helps create the best solution for the property.