Written by Max A. Jacobson, Senior Broker
As brokers we often think of cold calling as a tedious but necessary activity. You’ve run the gamut of obvious national tenants, none of which were interested in your last 2,000 SF space; your monthly leasing report is almost due and you dust off your excel spreadsheet and start dialing for dollars. When I started in the business back in 2006, my mentors gave me a few decent listings to work on and told me I had to make 100 cold calls per listing, per week. Overwhelming is an understatement, but I dug in and made the calls. From that very first week in the business, cold calling and persistence were drilled into my brain. It’s stuck with me over the last ten years and now as a tenant rep broker with Mid-America, I can hear my mentor’s voice asking me how many calls I’ve made today.
As Mid-America brokers we are fortunate to work for a company that refers a lot of business back and forth between our respective offices. On top of that, we belong to the biggest and best national network of retail brokers, from which we also receive referrals. Referrals are an integral part of obtaining new business and it’s a great system that we all benefit from. However, it can be easy to become complacent or even expect to get new business this way. The phone rings, “Hey I’ve got a lead for you, so and so is finally looking to expand into your market, I’ll make an introduction and you send me 15%.” We all know how it works, and it does indeed work. But what about those cold calls? What about the next big tenant that might be coming your way?
Back in February a colleague saw an article in the paper about a private equity firm that had just acquired a local company. He sent me the article and said, “Give these guys a call”. It would have been easy to talk myself out of it, “They probably already have a broker”, or “Every other broker in town is already calling them” but instead without hesitation, I opened Google and put on my detective hat. I started digging into the company, familiarizing myself with their existing locations, and once I found out who to contact I picked up the phone and started dialing for dollars. We all know what happened next. I was redirected to different people a millions times, left several voicemails and of course no one would give me a cell number or an email, but I didn’t give up. I was persistent and after a while I finally got through to “the guy” and in turn he finally got back to me. At the time, because the acquisition was so new, I was told they weren’t really ready to discuss real estate or expansion but to follow up in a few months. I’d heard that line before and it usually didn’t work out, but I put several reminders in my calendar and a few months later followed up with my contact.
This went on for a few more months, “Thanks for checking in, but we still aren’t ready”. Meanwhile we found out they were looking to hire a Director of Real Estate. Another setback I thought. They are going to hire someone that will have his or her own relationship with another brokerage company and we will be forgotten. So what should I do? Should I just wait and see, should we try and plug someone in we know? Hmmm… I wasn’t really sure, but I knew I couldn’t let this opportunity slip away, I had made contact, and had this guy’s ear. So I did what I was trained to do, I picked up the phone called my guy back. A few weeks had passed since we last spoke and he told me they were struggling to find a Director of Real Estate and that they were finally ready to discuss details with us on how we could help them with their real estate needs. To say I was excited is an understatement. This was it! For ten years I had been working towards a big box account. This is every brokers dream and let’s be honest there aren’t exactly an abundance of big box retailers expanding right now. A few juniors anchor tenants here and there, but these guys were major players, with a big private equity firm behind them. Over the next few weeks our team worked incredibly hard preparing a rock solid proposal. We had several conference calls and a few weeks later they found and hired an in house Director of Real Estate. An introduction to our team was made and it was official. We were selected as “The Guys”. Just last week we wrapped up our second tour with our new client and we are off to the races. The moral of the story here is of course, to pick up the phone, don’t second guess yourself, don’t be complacent and don’t assume someone else already beat you to it. Be confident, be assertive and go get that new business!!!
Photo of Max A. Jacobson
Click on photo for high-res version
Max A. Jacobson | Senior Broker
Mid-America Real Estate – Wisconsin, L.L.C.
648 N. Plankinton Ave., Suite 264 |Milwaukee, WI 53203
Direct: 414.390.1425 | Cell: 608.282.5866 | Fax: 414.273.4605
email@example.com | www.midamericagrp.com