Back office team members, correctly deployed, are now as important to the success of the business as their deal-making colleagues in the front office.
What is a back office team member? Some names: data capturer, admin, system manager, office manager, broker support.
But first, some CRE industry background…
A salary is effectively a percentage of the value that person adds to the business. As more value is added, so there is more room for a salary to increase. So when an employee’s value add increases, both employer and employee win!
In the days before tech, valuable back office personnel in brokerages used to be pushed down into data capturer roles. With improving efficiencies, these efficient, switched-on and talented people, who understand CRE, are being released from this drudgery. The time is now free to focus on high value work.
This article aims to be a user-friendly “cheat sheet”. See it as a “how to” guide to ride and benefit from the wave of industry changes. Two goals: 1) to explain and try anticipate how back office people’s roles can evolve painlessly, and 2) empower ambitious back office people with our stab at ways to “move the revenue needle” and be a secret weapon for brokerages.
As the esteemed Mr Dylan said way back in the 60s: (after a 15 second harmonica prelude :))
In reviewing these opportunities listed, you can ask yourself 2 questions
- What are you doing?
- What could you be doing with more efficiency?
And moving on the below isn’t necessarily a “Big Bang”. Some tasks are easier than others. Some fruit is lower-hanging than others. To clarify, you can decide to implement projects on a gradual, phased approach, as you achieve business buy in, and grow in confidence.
1. Grow incoming leads, make outbound sales calls easier
Back office personnel can make deal-making for their front office colleagues a lot easier.
How? In short
- “Warm up” possible cold customers.
- Help brokerages stay top-of-mind with existing customers.
- Drive referrals and customer-relevant thought leadership.
This new age boasts a host of user-friendly, low cost marketing tools, online – from social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.) to inbound mailers. Correctly used, these tools can drive marketing that help the brokerage’s brand to live in the minds of its customers.
The steps: Firstly, brainstorm some unique strategies you think will have success. (Success means content that will be valuable to your customers). Secondly, choose them. Then, learn the tools. Most importantly, do it!
2. Increase sales through data-driven deals
Data is the oil that CRE runs on. And back office personnel understand data. Back office personnel can help management to extract value from their data asset “gold”.
- Assist time-starved front office team members with on-risk consultative projects and presentations for customers. For instance, this can range from nodal analyses to rental comparatives
- Acquire owner information for specific types of assets. – e.g. I want the contact details for all owners of these properties, within this specific area
- Sweat business tenant data and assist brokers with tenant canvassing and relationships (by loading tenants as leases, managing and assisting brokers’ canvassing processes and data collection)
- Coming with data-driven ideas – let’s look at all industrial properties within this area, owned by owner XYZ, that are less than 2,000 sqm in size and more than 50% vacant
3. Back office = chief efficiencies officer
Change is hard. Likewise, technology is understandably intimidating to front office staff who may be stuck in their ways, or simply fearful. As a result, valuable business efficiencies opportunities are left on the table by team members who haven’t adopted new ways of operating.
Back office personnel are ideal efficiencies “change agents”. You understand CRE, you have the relationships of trust and your success is tied to that of front office staff. Therefore you can easily help, coach and assist front office staff to use efficiency tools better.
A simple example of this is to move away from Excel and paper, and use systems to manage deal meetings and deal update reporting.
Similarly, another example is to walk new features through with the team, or guide your colleagues on the use of unused features.
In parallel, this new breed of back office “super-users”, operating “at the coal face” can drive innovation by suggesting new system features, and improvements.
To sum up, back office team members are well positioned to find and champion ways of sweating tech, to make existing processes more efficient.
4. Assisting brokerage mgmt. with budgets and cash flow info
Reducing management’s stress and time spent doing admin, means more time for management to focus on revenue-generating deals and efficiency.
Brokerage data is now becoming available in more analysis-friendly formats – like charts and graphs and Excel.
Using the new data formats, back office personnel can now give management valuable visibility on the performance of their business and cash flows. In other words, back office team can take responsibility for this admin task.
5. Improve marketing spend
Do our deals come from marketing like signboards, or websites, or canvassing, or portals, or referrals or relationships?
Where do the big deals come from?
Do different geographies and deal types respond differently to marketing efforts?
How competitive is the brand online? How are your online “shopfronts” like websites performing? Are there unsweated opportunities to improve?
Lots of ROI questions, not so many answers…
Consequently, there is a lot of guess-work around
- Where do deals come from?
- What is the customer’s acquisition cost and customer lifetime value (CLV)?
- What is your net promoter score?
Most importantly: what is the best deployment of scarce marketing time and money?
Meanwhile, brokerages are operating in a B2B marketing environment. So brokerages need to know these things.
Answering these questions for your brokerage will mean it can do two things:
- Cut back on certain low-impact expenditures (time and money)
- Spend more time and money to those deal acquisition activities that deliver results.
6. Mining and sweating your “data gold”
Can your data assets be trusted – what is your data quality like? Deduplication of properties, businesses, contacts is often an overdue project.
How “underweight” are your data assets? Are you missing images, logos, contact info, descriptions? What about tenants on those properties? Are your data assets bound to unique identifiers?
Yes, these “data hygiene” projects are low glamour and time-consuming. But they are rewarding. The better you arm your brokers with high quality data they can trust, the more successful they can be in the competitive world of broking.
We hope you have found this useful, and inspiring. We are proud to highlight ways for businesses to be more efficient. Moreover, we trust this provides a road map of opportunities for ambitious, motivated back office team players to thrive and prosper.