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Bringing Corporate Culture To Dog-Eat-Dog CRE Brokerage

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The collaborative culture that has become a hallmark of tech companies has made its way into CRE brokerage firms. Firms in an industry traditionally marked by fierce competition for individual deals and commissions have changed tactics to attract new employees looking for more positive work environments.

At GFI Realty, intra-office collaboration has been a crucial factor over its decades of success, earning the team recognition in 2016 as one of CoStar's top New York sales firms. For senior director of investment sales Erik Yankelovich, working together is just as important as the next sale.

“We know that, on some level, we are competing with each other, but my colleagues and I also realize that teamwork is actually the key to individual success,” Yankelovich said.

Yankelovich knows he can rely on assistance from his colleagues and vice versa.

“We’re all proud of our personal books of business, but the benefit of working at a major brokerage firm is that our large workforce has more specialties and versatility than any one broker could possibly have,” he said. "The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.”

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GFI’s culture is an outgrowth of a training program designed for senior brokers and the newest additions to the team. Every junior broker is paired with an industry veteran who acts as a mentor, teaching and coaching them about the industry and the steps they need to take to be successful. Mentorship ensures that brokers new to real estate are brought up to speed and sets a precedent for comfortable communication between mentor and mentee.

The camaraderie is an added bonus.

“You can’t help but root for the guy you helped train,” Yankelovich said.

The program also features regular seminars given by senior executives from GFI and other firms across the industry for all experience levels. Training classes focus on a variety of brokerage-related topics, from subjects as fundamental as real estate licensing law to the intricacies of rent regulation and tax abatement.

GFI holds events celebrating brokers’ successes. The firm holds a year-end dinner and award ceremony honoring the year’s “Top Producer” and “Rising Star.” To keep the team motivated throughout the year, GFI also hosts monthly lunches for brokers with recently closed deals, while recognizing other achievements on a weekly basis.

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GFI’s offices at 140 Broadway reflect the emphasis on collaboration and teamwork with modern furnishings, open layout and breakout rooms.

“Our office is very conducive to developing strong chemistry within GFI,” GFI Realty president Michael Weiser said.

At the heart of GFI’s efforts is a mission to build the knowledge and professionalism of its team, while retaining brokers who take the firm to new heights.

“For any real estate advisory shop like ours, professionals are our most important asset, so we’re always looking to create new initiatives to help them succeed,” Weiser said. “Whether it’s recognizing our top performers for their successes, providing new brokers with mentors who can teach them the industry, ongoing professional training for our entire staff or having our tech people develop proprietary software to help manage client leads across the firm, we’re always trying to put our brokers in the best position to grow professionally and close deals.”

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