Written by Brad Blankenship, Executive Managing Director
Buzzwords are interesting to me. New ones keep dialogue fresh and intriguing – an expansion of our vocabulary. Old buzzwords get tired and dated and, eventually, you would really rather eliminate them altogether, along with anyone who uses them profusely. In our real estate market, there are many terms with which you are sure to be familiar, such as “dashboards”, “thought leadership”, “brand storytelling”, “big data” and “millennials”.
Have you ever noticed how buzzwords never seem to pinpoint an item with specificity? Instead, the references seem to capture a concept or notion about something our dictionary doesn’t seem to capture well. From that perspective, we like the convenience, albeit vague, that buzzwords bring to our conversations. Heck, it might even make you sound clever or intelligent and be a “value-add” (oops) to your vernacular.
However, there are two commercial real estate buzzwords that in my opinion should be banished immediately, so consider the following. How many times do we need to hear about a commercial real estate service company’s “platform” and “processes”? We all know what those buzzwords intend to describe and, I suppose, on occasion it makes sense to use them to espouse the benefits of doing business with a CRE firm with good capabilities and bench strength to service the client. I am sure your prospects are impressed with the one stop shop and “multi-x” (oops) service offering that most of us offer. But that’s the point, we all offer it – it’s nothing new and your prospect is likely not to be impressed.
It’s not that the terms are not beneficial in understanding a CRE firm’s capabilities, it’s the fact that we often lead with references to our “platforms and processes” in presentations, pitches, videos, blogs, marketing and PR. Unfortunately, when I hear someone say that their firm’s platform is what separates them from their competitors, it sounds as if they are talking down to me from a sort of imaginary elevated place with a gold medal around their neck. And, as if we could not be more impressed, we get to hear how their “processes,” which have been created from their best thought leaders using top methodologies (oops), allow the client to sleep at night. Let’s be clear about one thing. The client doesn’t care.
I believe the client cares about what is truly most important; the people. Better stated, it’s the individuals who help them be successful. Are they professional, considerate, thoughtful, empathetic, generous with their time and tenacious with efforts to serve? Will the firm cycle resources through the client’s organization like a revolving door or will the high talent resources be with them through thick and thin, from beginning to the end and have their back no matter what? Leave the buzzwords back at the office and focus on giving your clients what they really need. It’s not just good for the CRE industry; it’s just plain good business.
Brad Blankenship is the Executive Managing Director for Project and Development Services (PDS) at Cushman & Wakefield for the State of Texas. PDS provides comprehensive development and project management services for owners and tenants.