It seems as though we rarely experience a day where there is not an announcement about new technology being introduced into the business place. From cell phones that used to be the size of a small carry-on bag to units that now contain high resolution digital cameras, email and a host of other applications to make our lives more interactive, we have become ever accessible and in many ways more responsive to our customers. However, while these tools have served to allow us to increase our productivity, in many instances they have drawn our attention away from one of the cornerstones of our industry – relationships.
Perhaps today, more than ever, the art of building relationships is in jeopardy. It is far too easy to search the internet for market information, follow up on an issue via email or to electronically send pictures to a vendor requesting work to be completed. While these tools allow us to be more productive and make it easier to manage multiple items in a fast paced environment, they do not fully allow us to understand the entire picture. How many times has a recipient misunderstood the content of an email message or a vendor taken care of only what was requested when you learn that there are other items also needing their attention? Making time to get out of the office, pick up the phone or stop into visit a merchant is vital to maintaining a comprehensive working knowledge of what is actually taking place within the property or marketplace.
Take, for example, the information that can be gained from one short conversation with any one of your merchants. Although they may not be required to regularly report sales figures, a strong relationship with the store manager can quickly progress from “how are you doing” to “how has business been”. The result: a better understanding of how sales are trending, seasonal variations in their business, competitive factors in the market and oftentimes identification of obstacles that may be getting in the way of their success. Armed with this information you may or may not be able to have an immediate impact, but you will most certainly leave with a better understanding of the success/challenges being experienced, not to mention the added value that your new found knowledge brings to the property owner and/or other merchants at the property.
Without a doubt we are more productive and are better able to influence the profitability of the real estate that we manage because of technology. It is an invaluable tool, which should not be minimized. However, just like the skilled craftsman we have other tools upon which to draw from. As expectations continue to rise we cannot allow ourselves to become distracted by technology and forget about nurturing the relationships that are so vital to our success. The real estate industry has always been, and will always be, a relationship business. Take the time to get out of the office, disconnect from the computer for a while and foster the relationships with those people that ultimately determine the success of your property and your company– your clients, merchants and vendors.
Alan E. Young, CSM | Vice President – Property Management
Mid-America Real Estate – Minnesota, LLC
5353 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 650 | Minneapolis, MN 55416
Direct: 952.563.6671 | Fax: 952.563.6633
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.midamericagrp.com