The owners of small, independent firms have to decide whether to stay nimble or join with a bigger organization. Both sides of the commercial real estate industry have their advantages and disadvantages.
Recently, James Huang was at a crossroads. Should he stay independent with the firm he founded, BRC Advisors, or become a franchisee of a large firm?
Based on the use of a custom-designed marketing support software system to facilitate deal flow and cooperation, Huang joined the newly minted Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates as its first franchisee. Soon after joining, he became president of Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates LLC in the Los Angeles metro area.
“The biggest trend in the commercial real estate sector is technology, technology, technology,” Huang says. “Constantly listening to our affiliates and agents to help them be more efficient and effective in the market through technology, formation of specialty groups, and cooperation with other companies and organizations is vital.”
As Sperry Commercial expands in the U.S. and globally, Huang sees many key growth opportunities for 2017 and beyond. “I have seen the consolidation of the big firms and the rise of the resi-mercials, and while there is a home for everyone, commissions are being compressed like residential,” he says. “Agents need to be more advisory and consultative. The bar is raised as the service agents need to be higher than just looking on a website.”
In line with what Huang sees as a coming paradigm shift in the industry, owners of many small firms are choosing to become franchisees or join larger network groups by geographic areas or product types.
“Network, network, network, and always be learning,” Huang says. “Whether staying in touch with your network through existing social media platforms or leveraging new technologies, you can't afford to be a dinosaur.”
In the years ahead, more commercial real estate professionals will have the dilemma of staying independent or joining big firms. According to the 2016 National Association of Realtors Commercial Member Profile report, 43 percent work in or own independent firms. The upcoming trends in technology, such as the internet of things, demographic data, predictive analytics, and 3D printing, may shift the balance toward bigger firms with more resources. Stay tuned.