Recently, Andrew Bermudez, a former Lee & Associates vice president, and co-founder and CEO of Digsy, a commercial real estate CRM and lead generation service joined us on our webinar. Andrew drew on his experience to provide advice on how to keep your CRE deal pipeline filled. The following is a summary of that webinar.
Back by popular demand, Andrew Bermudez made another appearance as a guest webinar host on QuantumListing this past August. In June, he taught us about 19 Tools to Generate CRE Leads Online. To check out the summaries from this webinar, click here for Part 1 and Part 2.
Andrew rose to the ranks at Lee & Associates, becoming a Vice President in the firm at only 24 years of age. His trick, he says, is that he was a self-taught computer programmer, so he developed technological tools to power his brokerage. This eventually led to Digsy, an online portal that makes it easier to find, lease, and buy commercial real estate. Andrew is always trying to find better ways of doing things and loves sharing this knowledge with others.
This time around, Andrew shared with us how to find tenants for your listings. (Note: Throughout this, anything under tenants also applies to buyers but you can swap the two terms interchangeably). During the webinar, he walked us through four pillars to effectively move commercial real estate vacancies: traffic, visibility, presentation, and influence, which we will break down for you.
Where do CRE searches begin? Most studies all point to the same place: online. In fact, this is where 80% of searches start. Usually when someone is thinking of relocating or getting a new space, their first stop is search engines. Google has 92% of the market share for searches, so if you are wondering where to focus your energy and resources, you guessed it. Google.
But what does a tenant do online anyway? They will generally type in something such as “warehouse for rent Irvine.” It’s worth noting that tenants don’t search like brokers; for example, tenants will use terms like warehouse rather than industrial since they are not familiar with CRE industry jargon. Search results on Google will start off with an ad, followed by a few organic searches that are typically listing services. In order to get your listing exposure, you have to be seen, which brings us to our next pillar: visibility.
Do you ever go past the first page of a Google search? Perhaps you have a few times but the reality is 90% of people don’t go beyond page 1. For smaller firms, chances are that you’re not going to make it into these top search results unless you are paying for ads.
So how do you make an effective ad? First, you need a copy with a compelling title and description that provides details of why the searcher should choose you (e.g., years in business, renewal rate, prices). Add a catchy title with trigger words and uniqueness. Then, give enough buying power, or gas, in order to beat competing bidders. Search engines work on an auction basis, which means the lower you go in price, the fewer clicks you get. At times, you may want to splurge. Say you are a landlord expecting an empty space for several months, this would be the time to invest extra and gain buying power. You want to do this before your tenant leaves so that you reinvest the rent before you have the vacancy. Keep in mind this may be hard for brokers since you would be spending more on these ads than you would even receive in commission (unless you are leasing out a big space).
You need to get people to click on the ads, which the descriptive copy helps accomplish. Plus, you need prime placement, which comes from your bidding strategy. Lastly, you need to make sure you target the right keywords by doing research and finding good variations with high traffic volume. You can download Digsy’s complimentary keyword list as a starting point. There are also plenty of keyword research tools such as KeywordsEverywhere.com (free), Ahrefs.com, SEMrush.com, and Keywordtool.io.
As mentioned earlier, the top search results (in addition to ads) generally involve listing sites. Take a look at the websites that show up in your market to figure out which ones to focus your listings on! (Note: You can add listings for free during your first month with QuantumListing. Sign up here). As with Google, visibility at the top of searches is key for listing services too. Some listing services provide extra features (e.g., Listing Promotion) which let you secure top spots within your market’s search. It’s important to keep in mind that only about one percent of a listing’s searchers will actually inquire about the listing, according to internal research from Digsy., We recommend that you start investing your time and resources toward greater visibility if you’re listing is no longer on the first page.
You’ve heard location, location, location. Now it’s time for presentation, presentation, presentation. You’ve been able to get placement on high-traffic areas and move your listings to the top, but you are not done quite yet!. First impressions are everything. In a world where we carry cameras in our pockets, it is easy to skimp on quality photography and snap your own pictures. But, better photography is directly related to more clicks. In fact, Airbnb has reported that listings on their site with professional photography get two to three times more bookings. Maybe it is time to save the phone storage for personal pictures and invest in a pro. In addition to quality photos, 3D tours also drive significant traffic. Data from Matterport reports that listings with 3D tours receive 50% more tours and traffic.
So we’ve got top traffic sources as well as better visibility and listing presentation. Now what?
First, give yourself a pat on the back for making a huge leap with the presence you’ve achieved. You can now take this even further by working on your sphere of influence. There are three major components to your sphere of influence. First up is brokers - they are constantly talking to tenants in the market searching for space through cold calls. Second, your existing tenants can go a long way. Referrals are four times more likely to convert into a customer. Ever hear someone say they know a guy? People trust their friends and colleagues. 91% of customers say that they would provide a referral but only 11% of salespeople ask for it. Be sure to create a referral program as well! The third sphere of influence is inquiry emails, which are the people who have recently emailed you on any listing. Especially if this email was within the last 30 to 90 days, you should target them with other listings or announcements like a new listing or price reduction.