Lockdowns do not mean slowdowns at Colliers International. Work continues outside the workplace, and teams are working together to support clients – resulting in deeper relationships being forged.
The mantra of residential estate agents is said to be ‘location, location, location’. In real estate, however, it is more about ‘relationships, relationships, relationships’. One of the positives to emerge from the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis has been the way in which many of our client relationships have been strengthened and cemented during these difficult times.
Although the Bristol team were no longer able to physically work together at our office at 10 Temple Back during the first lockdown, we continued to work collaboratively and this has continued throughout subsequent tier restrictions and lockdowns . Our usual Monday morning meeting in the boardroom has been replaced with a Microsoft Teams meeting at exactly the same time. In addition, we talk to each other daily, and explore ideas and opportunities stemming from events like new lettings, lease renewals, or other market activity.
It became clear early in the first lockdown that many of our clients very much welcomed our support as they tried to cope with the unexpected difficulties that lockdown was bringing to their businesses. We have maintained this supportive approach, and will continue to do so through the current third lockdown.
As a director in the IPM team, I saw at close quarters the immense stress experienced by both landlords and tenants at March Quarter Day in the first lockdown, and as a result our role extended far beyond the usual collection of rents. Instead, we found ourselves involved in complex discussions as we tried to support our clients and find realistic solutions in unprecedented circumstances. At times, we were working 15 hour days, but the grateful feedback we’ve since received from clients has made it worthwhile.
While the second lockdown was shorter, it was also made easier to deal with as a result of our experiences of the first lockdown and this was also generally the case for our clients. It is unclear at this early stage what challenges the third lockdown will bring, but we will again be doing our utmost for our clients.
So how have we been going further to assist our clients? In addition to responding to immediate client needs, the Bristol team has set about finding ways to add value to client relationships by suggesting new opportunities, putting ourselves in their shoes to find solutions and assisting them in achieving their objectives.
Working collaboratively, our National Capital Markets team has been working closely with our agency teams to identify off-market opportunities by using their market knowledge. This has enabled us to introduce prospective assets that our clients would not otherwise have known about. It has also been a tangible way of demonstrating to them that they are valued and that we are thinking about them.
Another area in which we have successfully added value for our clients is Rating. Instead of asking clients broad questions such as “Is there anything more we can do for you?”, we’ve been prompting deeper conversations by asking about specifics, such as “Have you covered off all your options with regard to business rates?”
By delving deeper, we’ve been able to gain a better understanding of the circumstances of our occupier clients and have been able to suggest new solutions that they might not have thought about.
The proactive approach that we’ve taken has resulted in a deepening of relationships with our clients, by demonstrating that we value them and will do our best to look after them, at a time when not necessarily all the agents have been engaging in this way.
Working proactively as a team has already maximised receipts for our clients in the most challenging of circumstances. Working under lockdown restrictions has certainly been challenging, and no doubt will be again in this latest lockdown, but the team in Bristol is now building upon the stronger relationships forged during those times, with the aim of further accelerating success for our clients.
*This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Spotlight, the magazine produced by the Bristol office of Colliers International.
About the Author
Head of the South West and South Wales, Jo Edwards has over 24 years of experience in Property & Asset Management on behalf of Institutional Investors, Property Companies, Developers and Individuals.
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