I will never forget the day I learned my first lesson in commercial real estate. It came shortly after I joined a team of 25 brokers at Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate. They ultimately became a who’s who of Columbus real estate that included Richard Schuen, Ed Joseph, John Hall, Don Matsanoff, Greg Schenk, Chuck Manofsky, Doug Goddard, Ted Hobson, Bob Matias, Benton Benalcazar, Tom McGarity and several others.
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The Day I Learned About Walking and Talking
One of those brokers was Wayne Harer. Wayne played 10 years of minor league baseball for the Red Sox and Yankee organizations and actually won theAAA Batting Crown one year. Unfortunately for Wayne, that was not enough to dethrone American League MVPs Freddie Lynn and Jim Rice, or Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski from their spots on the roster.
I considered Wayne a ‘veteran’ commercial broker because he had all of 2 years of experience leasing downtown office space. One day as he was walking through the lobby, I called out, “Hey Wayne, do you have a couple of minutes?”
“Walk with me, talk with me!” he said as he got on the elevator.
“C’mon Scan. Walk with me, talk with me. Let’s go!”
Being new in the business, I jumped at the invite. Not only was Wayne a successful broker, he was the only guy I knew who had his own baseball card!
A 2-hour walking and talking tour of downtown Columbus.
I spent the next 2 hours tagging along with Wayne as he conducted business downtown. He visited a dozen offices, dropping off brochures, talking with tenants and owners. A business card handed out here, a “Howyabeen” there. We took elevators and escalators; we cut across parking lots and through retail stores. I kept asking Wayne real estate questions. Wayne kept walking and talking.
Five miles later, it was obvious that Wayne knew every floor of every downtown building, every owner, and every tenant. He knew everyone by name; the secretaries, the lobby clerks, even the policeman on the corner. You were never a stranger for long when ‘Wayno’ was walking and talking.
They told me, “You’re going to be an office broker.”
Wayne said, “When I was hired by Coldwell Banker, they told me, ‘You are going to be an office broker.’ That sounded great to me, but I really did not know what they meant. When I asked them exactly what an office broker did, they pointed outside their office window and said, ‘Do you see all of those buildings out there? You are going to learn everything there is to know about every single floor of every single building.’ ”
“They told me I needed to meet with every tenant leasing agent, property manager, lender, and owner associated with those buildings. I needed to learn all about the square footages, the rental incentives, and tenant improvements. Basically, I needed to learn details of every lease.”
Wayne added, “That can seem like a daunting task for a new real estate agent, fresh out of professional baseball. It took me about 18 months to do that groundwork. And it is groundwork! Your energy level has to be very high. When you start at the top of the LeVeque Tower and start working, floor by floor, it can be exhausting.”
One time someone asked Wayno, “What if there is a ‘no-solicitation’ sign outside the office?”
“Better yet!” he replied. “That means there is a good chance some of the other brokers were scared off. The reality is, if you haven’t been thrown out of every building in your territory at least once, then you’re not doing your job.”
The Lesson I Learned that Day
The questions I had for Wayno were insignificant compared to the education I received, walking and talking. This is what it is all about; getting face-to-face and personal with the people with whom you want to do business. It was the best lesson I ever learned in commercial real estate.
Certainly, there were scores of agents “working the phones”, making calls to potential clients, but there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face the way that Wayne taught me that day, on his way to being named Highest Volume Commercial Sales Leader for several years in Columbus … walking and talking!
25 Years Later … Still Walking and Talking
All of my speaking presentations are made up of stories in the marketplace from walking and talking through my 25 year career in investment real estate. You can learn more about my presentations at www.talkingandtalking,com.