Recently, I attended a networking event that brought up the topic of how our clients perceive us. They framed the discussion around three questions:
- How do your clients perceive you?
- What makes you valuable to your clients?
- What characteristics help seal the deal with a new client?
It was an interesting topic that spawned even more interesting answers from the participants.
I recalled the case of a nonprofit I represent that asked me to search for a new space for their operations. When we first worked for them, we had a multipage document hiring our firm. We normally have an agreement that defines the nature of our relationship, but in this case, the CFO told me that it was unnecessary because of the trust we had for each other. He agreed we would need it at some point to make clear compensation, timing, etc. To get the job started, all that was necessary was trust.
In the case of another nonprofit client, I anticipated a problem and reached out to my contact in the organization. She said, “George, thank you for looking out for us and protecting us, we appreciate that. That's why we like to work with you.”
Anticipating future problems—and keeping an ear to the ground in order to detect the unexpected before it happens—are important attributes that we bring to the table.
The case of another client clearly illustrates this fiduciary role that we, and all tenant representative brokers, play:
This organization’s lease was drawing to a close and they wanted to do a comprehensive search of the Manhattan market. We visited over 35 different properties and constructed a short list of 5 locations, one of which was only 4 blocks away from their current location. That space was a more attractive deal (13% less expensive) than renewing their current lease. Additionally, the new space would have offered a lot more flexibility, with the landlord agreeing to an expansion right.
We recommended that the organization take the space, even though it would have resulted in a lower commission for us. Ultimately, my client decided to stay where they were, but they were happy that I performed my fiduciary duty by presenting them with compelling options and representing their interests—and not the landlord’s.
I am glad I attended this networking event, and I recommend everybody step outside the confines of their office to exchange ideas with other, like-minded professionals. Not only will you learn new things about your industry, you stand to learn a great deal about yourself. What I learned was that people look to me as a trusted advisor and someone who is looking out for them.
George E. Grace
Mohr Partners, Inc.
232 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016