Thursday, March 10, 2016

Give Everyone 5 Minutes of Your Time



A local businessperson, we’ll call him Business Bob, once told us over lunch that he will give anyone 5 minutes.

Five minutes for what?

Five minutes for anything.

Business Bob said if someone wanted to come to him for an investment opportunity, a business plan/idea, an interview, whatever, he would make the time to either talk on the phone or sit down with that person.

Business Bob has had great success over the several decades his company has been in business and continues to thrive and expand.

A great deal of Business Bob's success is attributable to this mindset.

So, how can we apply this to commercial real estate?

As commercial real estate professionals, we are always searching the next deal.

We try to keep our pipeline full through prospecting and networking but oftentimes, our next big project is just a phone call (or these days, an email) away.

Our company has made a habit of always talking to any prospective tenant who calls for office space or warehouse space.

Sometimes, we know the call is highly unlikely, maybe even impossible, to lead anywhere like the following:

We were recently notified about a prospect who wanted to open a food processing plant within our business park.  Their needs were several thousand square feet of heated and cooled warehouse space and some very specific electrical requirements for the commercial food processing equipment.

Did we have anything even close to this requirement that would work?

Nope.

Did we take the call anyways?

Yep.

Was it a waste of time?

No way.

How can that be?

We took the time to listen to this prospect’s needs and get an idea of their business plan/model moving forward in our region.  We figured that at some point, this prospect might have a different requirement.  Maybe at that time, the prospect could utilize one of our spaces.  Plus, this business might be a potential referral source.

If we had just said no from the start, we would be closing the door on any future business and/or referrals.

Have we gotten any future business from that client or any referrals?

Again, no.

So how can it be that it was not a waste of time?

Take the following example that did pay off:

A number of years ago, we got a call from a national credit tenant (Fortune 100) who needed some space.

Their requirements were 25,000 square feet of warehouse space with a couple of private offices.  The kicker was the company only needed space for 1-2 months.  We were told that they were renovating their existing location and needed space while the construction was completed.

Our company typically shies away from leasing space temporarily because we may pass up a long term deal.  Plus, we didn’t have even half of that amount of space vacant.

Did we still take the call?

Yes.

Did it lead to future business?

At first, no.

We took the local people on a tour of what we did have available, and they felt like they could make it work if absolutely necessary.

The next day, we received a call from the company’s regional office and corporate office.

We told the regional manager that we were flattered to receive the call but just did not think we could make the deal work.

Our company had minimal space left to lease.  We had a few prospects for the remaining vacant spaces and did not want to pass up those opportunities.  Plus, we did not think it was a good fit for the company either.

The regional manager said he understood.

So where’s the part about the big payoff?

The regional manager’s next question: Can you do a build-to-suit?

Our answer: Of course!

The corporate office was calling to ask the same question.

Apparently, the local office was having some issues at its current location and was deciding to either fix it or relocate.  The building was old and was not the typical layout of their other locations around the country.

They made the decision to either find an existing building to retrofit (they couldn't find one) or do a build-to-suit.

Had we not taken the initial call, we might not have ever been presented with this opportunity.

And before you ask the question, yes, we did perform a build to suit and they are still a tenant.

Not a bad return on investment for a 5 minute phone call, right?

Please feel free to leave comments.  We promise to read them all.  You can also email us with any questions/comments at leasing@seawaybusinesspark.com.  As a reminder, we provide office space for rent and office/warehouse space for rent in Gulfport, Mississippi.  For more information, visit our website at www.seawaybusinesspark.com or call us at (228) 575-7731.