The Education Edge
After many successful years negotiating leases from the landlord’s side of the table as a regional executive for national and international commercial real estate organizations, Debra Stracke Anderson, CCIM, SIOR, saw a niche opportunity hidden among the corporate giants’ shadows. In 2000, she launched Sloan Street Advisors and continues to serve as president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based corporate real estate services firm. In 2003, Sloan Street was selected as the D.C. regional affiliate for the International Tenant Representative Alliance (www.itraglobal.com), an organization devoted exclusively to tenant/buyer representation in more than 70 global markets. Anderson is the 2010 chairman of the ITRA board of directors.
Commercial Investment Real Estate asked Anderson to talk about the role corporate real estate consultants play in this climate and the value her CCIM education brings to the table.
CIRE: Based on your recent experiences, what’s the most important aspect of leasing in today’s market conditions?
Anderson: One of the most crucial issues today is flexibility. Our requests for proposals always have been detailed in terms of renewal options, expansion and contraction rights, sublease and assignment rights, and termination options. But corporate clients appreciate our tenacity in this regard today more than ever before because the future is unknown: Will they experience growth, downsizing, consolidation, or even bankruptcy? How long will the current economic conditions last and who will remain standing when the dust settles? Overall, flexibility in future leases will be key as the workplace evolves.
CIRE: What’s the biggest stumbling block for corporate clients?
Anderson: Many companies are teetering on the edge financially and lending remains largely nonexistent. Further, some firms are limited to short-term leases because of concerns about the future, which unfortunately prevents them from benefiting fully from today’s market conditions. For those that are well funded, this is the ideal time to sign long-term leases and lock in today’s rates and concession packages.
CIRE: Does the CCIM designation give you an edge with corporate clients?
Anderson: Corporations today are focused on operating their core businesses successfully. With the downsizing of in-house corporate real estate departments, they need on-the-ground experience and creative strategies from seasoned service providers, particularly those who have worked through multiple economic cycles. They choose providers who have the best education, senior-level expertise, and the most sophisticated tools. Seeing the CCIM designation on a business card assures them that the service provider meets these criteria and much more.
CIRE: Tell us about a time you used CCIM tools, networking, or both to really wow a client.
Anderson: A prospective multiregional client told me that a much larger competitor could offer sophisticated mapping and related reports for a site-selection search. Using CCIM’s STDBonline mapping and financial analysis tools, I provided a complete, detailed report to the potential client in less than four hours. I was awarded the account on the spot.
In another example, one of our valued national clients had a challenging office space requirement in a distant market. I used the CCIM member network to identify local prospective partners to complete the transaction. After researching a specific designee’s credentials and references, I referred my client to the local CCIM. The designee proceeded to hit the ball completely out of the park and made a hero out of me.
CIRE: How can earning the designation help industry pros who want to break into the corporate sector?
Anderson: There is no better educational track available than CCIM’s and thus the designation is highly respected among the corporate real estate executive community. In addition to encouraging seasoned service providers to pursue the designation, I always advise young professionals just entering the field to complete the CCIM education. The designation provides credibility with potential clients and greatly assists in serving them well after they become clients. Corporations have many service providers from which to choose — having the designation gives CCIMs a powerful edge.
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