How Things Have Changed in the Tenant Rep Business: A 30-Year Look Back

When I started in the Tenant Rep business in 1986, the tools we used to develop business and execute our tenant rep projects were very different and the majority involved manual processes that were significantly more time consuming.

Consider this: Less than thirty years ago, these things either didn’t exist or were in their infancy:

  • Personal computer
  • Email
  • Xerox machine
  • Fax machine
  • Internet, websites
  • Federal Express
  • Google
  • CRM
  • Mobile phone, camera, video
  • Portable computer
  • Computer graphics and video
  • Social media – i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  • Cable television
  • Costar
  • Excel, Word, Powerpoint
  • Portable projectors

And there are a host more. Isn’t it amazing that in less than thirty years we have invented all of these tools to make the job of being a tenant rep broker that much easier, better and more effective?

In 1986, when we had a new client requirement we had to call every building in a given submarket to find out if they had space available for our requirement. There was no Costar. We had to go out and take pictures of buildings in order to create a survey. If we needed floor plans or other information from the landlord, they had to personally deliver it, or heaven forbid, send requested information via regular mail. To prepare the survey, a secretary had to type the survey on a typewriter and use carbon paper to make copies. Everything we presented to our client was done in person – no email or web access.

In terms of business development, most companies didn’t know what a tenant rep broker did. We used “index card” files to keep track of prospects and the only tool we had was the telephone to contact potential clients – no email or social media. And to find out information about a prospective company and who the decision makers were was extremely difficult – no web pages or Google. There was no LinkedIn to figure out who our friends and contacts were connected with.

So all in all, it was a slower and more difficult process to find clients and execute business. The tools we have today are phenomenal and allow us to be significantly more efficient and effective and to produce more commission revenue per producer as a result.

Looking back it makes me wonder…What will the next 30 years bring to the tenant rep business?

Stay tuned – those thoughts are next…

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