Independent vs. National Commercial Real Estate Firms
“To be, or not to be, that is the question…” goes the famous opening line of an act from the Shakespeare play, Hamlet.
That very same question is what a lot of CRE Principals ask themselves every day. “To Be Independent or not to Be Independent… and Be with a National Firm.”
The decision is not an easy one, especially for an Independent who may feel as though his/her niche in the marketplace would be disruptive to current business if they were to align themselves with a national platform.
If you’re someone who wants to buy and sell for their own gain and possible syndication, well, a national platform may not be the choice for you. However, if you are an independent CRE brokerage or property management firm that wants to step up their game and compete with the national players, then looking at a national platform definitely behooves you to take a little time to gather information so you can make a knowledgeable decision.
5 Factors to Consider When It Comes to Independent vs. National Firms
Let’s first consider the information that would allow you and your firm to make that informed decision:
- Technology: I know, I know. It’s always changing and it’s one of the biggest expenses an independent firm incurs. If not in hardware and software, in people or outside services. A few questions to ask are: “Does this national platform have the technology I will need today and position me for future growth without a seismic shift in how I do business or in training? Is it cloud-based or on premise technology? Will the firm help train, accelerate my transition to its platform? Is what I currently have working?”
- Financial: As Bill Clinton once said, “It’s about the economy, stupid.” Well, in our business some would argue it’s “Show me the money!” A few things to consider: “Do I see how this move to a national firm would enhance my bottom line? Will it allow me to reduce marketing expenses or greatly enhance my marketing efforts? Is my market demanding or is it asking for more of a national presence to be competitive? How can it help me with existing and new relationships? Can it help me do more deals? Can it help me recruit and retain top talent? And last but not least, what are the commission splits and what are the fees?”
- Personal: What will ultimately suit my business, my people, my family and my clients? What do the next 3-5 years look like in my business?
- Intangibles: What are the Unknown Unknowns? I like to call them the “unk unks.” To get this perspective, it is very important to talk to the current principals of the national platform you are considering and get a mix of their experience. Do your due diligence and spend a little time with principals who have been affiliated from 1 year to 5 years with the national platform you are considering. This is imperative before making your final decision. This will allow you to see what the “real deal’ is without all the marketing hype. “Looking under the hood to make sure there is an engine there” is necessary before your final decision.
- Why not you, why not now? – Only you have that answer…
Brand Identity and SVN® Commercial Real Estate Advisors
Last week I was asked by a prospective SVN principal: “I am concerned my brand identity will be compromised and I will lose the local flair with a national platform. What should I do about my brand?” My response: “I don’t know about that, we can talk about it; however what I do know is what I hear from owners of independent firms who were asking the same questions before they joined forces with SVN…”
Here’s how SVN can address the Independent vs. National Firm concern, from the words of various members of the SVN community:
“With a national platform, we now harness the power of one of the industry’s 6th most-recognized names with the expanded reach of an international network of over 1,300 Advisors in over 500 markets. The brand has definitely given my firm the opportunity to grow my business and client base. I now sit at the table to compete with the other nationals in my market.”
“We now have unlimited access to industry leading-edge commercial real estate tools and technology that helps maximize our clients’ returns and saves us time and money.”
“We now have expanded visibility and marketing to reach the widest possible investor audience and access to a broader array of asset classes and so much more as part of a global network. It is the SVN Advisors that make up the difference…this is a global network where each person is committed to putting their clients’ interests first.”
If you are looking to “step up your game” – now is the time to gain information to help you make a knowledgeable decision so you are ready for growth in 2016. The best of luck to you with your “to be or not to be” decision!
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