We recently saw a post that called commercial real estate “archaic”, “lumbering”, and “anachronistic.” Ouch. Maybe it’s true that as an industry we are slow to adopt new tools when our existing methods are still working. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But there is an increasingly stark contrast between the way CRE does business and the way many of their tenants do. This can make for needless false starts and crossed wires, as well as an unfavorable first impression.
Like any industry, CRE is most likely to change its methods in one of two situations: either a competitor is doing it or our clients are demanding it. In the case of adopting tech tools to increase our productivity and level of customer service, we’re experiencing both right now. Our customers expect proficiency and the benefits of technology, and if we can’t provide it they will turn to those who can.
People who are quick to incorporate technology into their personal lives can hesitate to adopt new tools at work. They need some sort of incentive to take the time required to find out what technology has to offer them and then learn to use the specific tools that they choose. We are at the point where tech-savvy agents have a significant edge in providing accurate and efficient service, and getting clients excited about possibilities.
We have to realize that CRE is not just about buildings and physical structures. It’s really about information. Lots of information, shared by lots of stakeholders. Investors are becoming more knowledgeable, and they demand access to more detailed information. Potential tenants can feel confident when they have ready access to data on a property. Using tech tools to increase efficiency is a survival tactic.
So the first step to adopting great new tools is awareness. Learning about trends and understanding how technology can improve the bottom line are powerful motivators, as is demonstration. Seeing someone else successfully use a technology makes people more likely to try it themselves. Make use of the experiences of early adopters to inform your tech implementation process.
Keep an eye on trends like drone photography for site selection and remote property tours, 3D imaging software that lets you represent renovation ideas and finishes virtually for clients, and more. These types of innovations eliminate barriers and make property shopping an interactive experience. This, along with 24/7 access to all sorts of property details, is becoming the expectation in customer service.
The internet is also playing a part in changing the options for sale of commercial space. Sites like Popularise let small investors buy shares in commercial property online, taking advantage of changes in Securities laws. As crowdfunding moves into the CRE arena, it has implications for brokers and their customers. Watch for technology innovations that follow policy change.
Tech tools offer CRE an avenue for more dynamic and direct contact with tenants and more responsive and rich provision of vital information. They’re not a future possibility, but a current necessity, and they’re changing the game as we speak.