The right steps to be on top when the recovery arrives |

The right steps to be on top when the recovery arrives

Scott Shanks

Let’s face it, these are tough times, ridiculously tough times. Most of us in the real estate industry haven’t seen times like this in our professional careers, or a market that even remotely comes close to it. Everyone is running around trying to produce commerce, but the fact is that it just isn’t happening much, and finding a deal, any deal, is challenging. This will especially hold true entering the holiday season, which is typically slower than the balance of the year. So what to do? Twiddle your thumbs, play hooky and go skiing, or maybe hunting? How about that long-sought-after vacation you’ve been seeking if you have any money in your bank account? If none of the above works, prepare for a successful 2010 and strive to make it a more productive and prosperous year.

While we certainly can’t create demand, or for that matter the market, we can position ourselves for the future in a beneficial manner. Positioning yourself and your business is always an ongoing process and something that is critical to future success, but it is even more imperative in these challenging and ever-changing times. Positioning yourself for success and placing yourself ahead of the competition comes with a lot of hard work and preparation and now is the time to take on that challenge.

The key to this is two pronged:

* Developing in-depth knowledge of what is happening in the market and with your competition.

* Learning how you and your company are aligned to meet these challenges.

Let’s first tackle looking at being prepared by knowing the market, how your competition works and what it will take to successfully gain market share.

Does this mean networking? We all do it, but who does it successfully? We all know who is effective in our industry at achieving this, yet most of us ignore it because we’re inept, afraid, or simply lazy. The successful individuals who excel at networking have a plan. Even though I’m the first person to say networking could be having a cocktail with your buddies, it must be more than that. Network locally, regionally and nationally. We all have associations in these areas, and we need to make a concerted effort to continuously reach out and make sure we are in tune with what’s going on and to make sure that others know that we are in touch with our marketplace. Not only should we network with our peers, but also with key clients understand their business issues and what they see as possible hurdles and goals on a continual basis.

Read as much as you can get your hands on to understand demographic, economic and political forces that will affect you and your clients.

Understand your marketplace. Our markets are forever changing, and having the pulse of those changes will enable you to create the circumstance to take advantage of those changes.

Look at alternative ways to better the way you do business. Just because it’s not the norm in one industry doesn’t mean that another industry hasn’t come up with a better mouse trap that can be utilized to the benefit of yours.

Next, look at how you can internally affect your success. Again, this would be individually and corporately.

Make goals, examine your mission statements and set strategies that will enable your success.

Set benchmarks that you will be able to compare to throughout the year. Evaluate those benchmarks quarterly and address successes and failures.

Share the information with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals. Empowering your team will make everyone feel like they are part of what needs to occur for success.

All of these factors will have a direct and indirect impact on your success, so go out and work your tail off to reap the rewards of your hard work. Or, you could sit around and wait for the phone to ring and go have a drink with your buddies.

Scott Shanks is senior vice president in the office properties group of NAI Alliance. Contact him at 336-4671 or email to


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