This year marks my 10th year in the commercial real estate industry and my 5th year here at MacRo. While I learned a lot during my first five years in the DC market, it’s truly been my last five years in Frederick that have taught me the most.
For those who do not know, I ended up at MacRo after responding to Rocky’s “The MacRo Apprentice” blog post in 2015. I thought to myself, anyone who would post with this most excitement about hiring someone, must be worth meeting. So, I wrote my cover letter, updated my resume, and wrote my 500—that is right, 500—word essay. Four interviews and a Myers-Brigg’s test later, and the position was mine! I’ve earned the opportunity to expand from the regular, “Class A” office buildings I worked with in the DC market, to warehouses, retail, farms, and land development. While learning about the different types of commercial properties has been incredibly informative these last few years, the real lessons have been learning about my clients. In the last five years, here are two major things I have learned about clients:
1. No Two Clients Are Alike
I know this probably sounds like something simple to know, as no two people are alike, but it’s easy to put certain industries in a category. Just because clients may be in the same type of business, it doesn’t mean they are looking for the same type of space. For example, I worked with a number of CPA and financial firms during my time in Washington, D.C and Bethesda, MD. Most those clients were looking for the same type of space: traditional, professional office with conference rooms and individual offices. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to represent a CPA client that was looking for the opposite. They wanted modern, fresh, and “different”. I remember the day we went out to look at properties. We were on a tight schedule and visited about 5-6 different Class A office buildings. I was sure at least one would get the excited, but I could feel they wanted more. I told the client that there was one more property I had in mind. One I thought no CPA would consider. He wanted to see it. The catch, he had to ride with me to do soccer camp carpool (a story we still laugh about to this day). As soon as we pulled up to the property, the exact words were “YES!”. No one was more surprised than me that this was their choice, but they loved everything about the unique space. That was the moment I realized that I would never think inside a box again.
2. Listen, Listen, LISTEN
One thing we learn in the real estate industry is that, at times, we are more than just their real estate advisors. There are times when we are a client’s partner, sounding board, cheerleader, and occasionally, a form of therapist. Learning to truly listen to a client’s needs, not just their space requirements, but their overall needs. For some client’s that need revolves around the amount of space. For example, I had a client that was being moved out of their space a few years ago and anxious to setup shop somewhere. They were originally only looking for a small space. As we started getting to know each other better and I listened to their full plans, the business had already doubled in a year and was expected to double again in the next year. While the smaller space would fit their needs now, they would outgrow it in the 2nd year of their 3-year lease, without an option for expansion. The more I listened to them, the more I felt that getting them into a larger space would not only save them moving cost, but also help them find their “forever” home. Eventually, we were able to negotiate a long-term deal in their “forever” space, that saved them money in the long term.
I have been incredibly lucky over the last five years to work with and represent some of the best businesses and people that I have encountered in Frederick. Many of those clients have become friends. Whether a long-time established business, or a new/growing business, I feel very lucky to have worked with and represented so many incredible groups over the last 5 years. I look forward to the next!
Ashleigh Kiggans, Vice President, joined the MacRo team in 2015. She plays a key role within the organization, assisting the leadership team across a wide range of initiatives, including market research, data analysis, client communications, and marketing while assisting with the sales and leasing transactional process.