First Look - Keys to Prospering in Today’s Environment
By: Christopher Lee, president and CEO, CEL & Associates, Inc.
The real estate industry has experienced a roller coaster ride of challenges, opportunities, setbacks and unexpected surprises.
The near-term economic outlook appears to provide a respite from the doom and gloom in 2009, and the apparent "bottoming out" of the economic downturn is bringing a sigh of relief to many in the real estate industry. However, the challenges facing real estate executives and those enterprises they lead will likely remain through 2010 – and, for some, throughout 2011. Adherence and application of the following core business strategies can help firms create enterprise value and exceed performance expectations in the current environment and beyond.
Become Multilingual: Speak and understand the language of tenants (existing and potential), lenders, investors, and the language of employees. This is critical to maximizing productivity and performance. Getting and staying connected to all stakeholders will be essential.
Stabilize Your Core Base: Raise capital, open and/or strengthen relationships with lenders and capital partners (existing and potential). Don’t miss this incredible buying opportunity because you lack the capital base to participate.
Get the Right People in the Right Places: Undertake an honest assessment of your current talent. Do you have the right people in the right places? There is a plethora of available talent at reduced compensation levels who are very capable and seeking work. Now may be an excellent time to upgrade and/or enhance your team.
Control Costs: Watch variable costs, seek maximum value from vendors and eliminate unnecessary expenditures. According to a recent CEL & Associates, Inc. study, 95 percent of all real estate firms can reduce overall operating costs from eight to eleven percent by prudent cost containment tactics.
Expand Branding Activities: Perception is as important as reality. Let the market know of your successes, capabilities, financial stability and outstanding talent base. Tenants, lenders and investors like to be associated with winners. Plus, opportunities are often extended to those perceived to be "one of the survivors/winners" coming out of this recession.
Create the Proper Organization Structure: If you have not changed your organizational structure, staffing plan and reporting relationships in the past 12 months, you need to do this…now! Whether you’re organized by function, client, market, product, personality, business line or service, clearly the right organizational structure is essential to leverage resources and talent in the most effective and efficient manner. Success in 2010 will require the implementation of contemporary organizational designs that encourage and reward collaboration, accountability, communication, knowledge sharing and team building.
Improve Operational Efficiency: There is no operational process or system than cannot be enhanced. Continuous improvement, higher productivity and greater efficiency must be a mantra for 2010 and beyond. Every aspect of the operating platform from eliminating paperwork to utilizing technology must be critically examined. Operations leaders should be asking how they can create better systems with the goal of making them more efficient and effective.
Develop Current and Future Leaders: For firms with over 10 employees, this break-through strategy must be actualized this year. Growth, performance, service, profitability, creation of value and success is 100 percent dependent upon leadership. However, leadership is a learned behavior and does not automatically come with title or tenure. Real estate organizations need to identify current and future leaders, develop individual career and leadership development plans and deploy those strategies which manifest in improved performance.
Deploy a Robust CRM Plan: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) represents the strategies, plans, tactics and processes that create, strengthen and assure long-term valued relationships with those who matter most — your customers. Embedding the voice of the customer into everything you do will be a competitive requirement in 2010 and beyond. How you interact and measure the interactions with current or perspective clients must be an integral part of every real estate organization’s business model.
Get Focused: What are your priorities and does everyone in your organization share them? From the CEO to the Property Manager, each employee must have an alignment of interests and know what is most important to accomplish. Leading an organization in today’s environment does not leave room for misunderstandings, miscommunications and mistaken priorities.
Become Collaborative: Simply being cooperative is not enough. Every leader, employee, department or region must begin and end each day with a desire to seek and solicit collaborative input.
Utilize Technology: The efficient use of technology will create cost savings, and improve productivity and performance. Technology is not an IT function; it is a management function supported by IT professionals.
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