Customer Service is King, we all know that. Or do we? I find it interesting that some real estate agents just don't get it. I think it comes back to being in tune with people's needs, and willingness to not make your agenda the barrier for information flow.
How the Story Begins
Several months ago a small business asked me to help them find a new location. They expressed interest in staying right where they are if and only if the owners would provide better customer service. If you aren't aware of how commercial leasing works, I should start with.... Landlords often take advantage of small businesses because the Tenant doesn't understand what is in the lease or what can be negotiated.
In this case, the building had a major Tenant exit and was replaced with a school. That means lots of renovation and relocation within the building on the part of smaller Tenants. My client was relocated into spaces that legally met the definition of "similar space" - but wasn't. Rather than having prominent space off the elevators, and one contiguous, efficient office layout, they were moved into a back corner, with odd shaped spaces, and 25% of their space was across the hall. This has been an ongoing business interruption situation.
The Hearing Impaired
After touring several spaces and being on the very edge of vacating their existing space, the owners had their leasing representative contact the Tenant about renewing their lease. I stepped in and announced my representation stating their needs. The Leasing Rep's response was.... "We won't negotiate the rate. I'm not here to discuss their problems or rates, I just want to show them how we can make their space more efficient." I tried to explain that the owners need to negotiate rates and consider expanding their space into the vacant adjacent suite, with some major suite improvements for my client to consider staying since other property owners already offered them something better. She blew me off. The Tenant told me not to even negotiate any further with them.
Spies Like Us
Throughout this series of meetings The Property Manager noticed the Leasing Rep's behavior. When the Owner's asked what's the roadblock? These are great Tenants! She replied, it's our Leasing Rep. The Owner's asked me to email a summary of what my perspective is on all this. I asked the PM why? She said, because the Leasing Rep is on notice. I should mention that the Leasing Rep I'm speaking of has 5 years seniority over me but has less than half the education and none of the listening skills. She has a nice title, Vice President, but in my world that doesn't mean [fill in the blank].
Lost & Found
Just because you are a "Vice President" - sales is sales and if you can't get a great Tenant to renew then you're gone. She lost the opportunity because she allowed her personal agenda - new person to the team gets good leasing rates - to get in the way of being able to listen- and lost everything in the end. The Tenant wanted R*E*S*P*E*C*T so they found it in a property across the street, because I listened.