VTS Head of Sales: Leasing Needs Speed And Attentive Brokers
When we covered Bisnow partner VTS and its head of sales, Andrew Flint's white paper on the three keys for quick and efficient leasing last week, we felt that the story and mentality behind the keys would be equally fascinating. So we sat down with Andrew (pictured) to pick his brain on how his experiences at JLL helped him create the simple, but important, tips and tricks for brokers, and how he thinks VTS helps brokers in ways that traditional methods can't.
Bisnow: A big factor in VTS's power to help close deals is the speed. Are you finding that speed is becoming more important in the closing process? If so, why?
Andrew Flint: Tenants have a lot of options around their space search these days. Their geographical parameters have expanded based on where their employees are coming from, where they want to be and where they want to work. They're no longer bound by a two to three block or mile radius, meaning the number of options for them has multiplied. This, along with the access they have to the market, means it's more important than ever to not only attract tenants but keep them engaged. To do that, you need to respond as quickly as possible and answer their needs in a timely manner. As you move faster with tenants in the market or even in your building, so does the entire leasing process, reducing downtime significantly.
Bisnow: When working at JLL, what were some common issues or headaches in the leasing process that informed the three keys? Were there incidents in the past where a property hasn't been prepped?
Andrew: First, if space did not show well, tenant rep brokers might not bring their tenants through and, if they did, then the tenant would often have a difficult time envisioning themselves actually working there. When tenants see multiple spaces on a tour or throughout the leasing process, they begin benchmarking you against their alternatives. If there isn't a good first impression, then you are at a competitive disadvantage.
Second, tenants aren't often fully prepped prior to a tour and sometimes don't have the right floor plans or space details. They may also have had a change in plans on what they actually want and weren't focused on the right block of space. Engaging with the tenant once they are at the building enables you to ask the right questions, highlight the key aspects of the space/building, and adjust accordingly to alternatives that fit their need. Without this, they may have a bad first impression and never come back.
Finally, a lack of real-time data on your own building or portfolio makes it difficult to quickly identify areas to create value, whether it be to push for an extra dollar of rent, provide less in concessions or even provide more if you see the market slowing down. Tracking the progression of a negotiation and tenant demand of both active and done deals gives you the insight on the right market dynamics.
Bisnow:How do you feel your time at JLL affected your mindset when coming to VTS? Did you come in ready to change the leasing game? Is VTS's attitude what attracted you in the first place?
Andrew: Our co-founder, Ryan Masiello, was one of my partners at JLL, so I ended up being one of the first users of VTS, getting the marketing module on all of my agencies. I quickly saw where VTS was moving in terms of asset management capabilities and—comparing it to the existing model of Excel reporting—saw the opportunity to change the way the industry managed it day-to-day and looked at data. My experience in commercial real estate—along with many others at VTS—has allowed us to move quickly on product that our clients both want and need.
Bisnow:Do you find that many brokers need to improve their listening skills? What do you personally do to remain attentive and remember everything a client says?
Andrew: It's not necessarily listening skills, but more of having an efficient way to track what your clients want. That's what we're doing at VTS. Whether it's from your desk, phone or tablet, you can update what's going on with deal prospects, existing tenants, tenants in the market or even comps. Brokers are becoming 10 times faster with VTS on their portfolios in tracking what their clients want and what they need.
Bisnow:Can you give any examples of a time when a client said something small in passing about a space, but it made a huge difference for you in finding a space that they eventually loved?
Andrew: I had a client once that mentioned coming to an early morning tour directly from the gym and that the water pressure was terrible. It led us to focusing on space that had a shower within the space or where one could be installed. It became part of our negotiation and very important to his morning routine.