This blog is the collective output of many CRE professionals in the commercial real estate industry and us here at Gmaven. If you ask what Gmaven team members do, all will have different answers. But if you ask why, you will pick up one common thread: the desire to make things better. To make a difference.
The CRE drug
Me personally? I joined commercial real estate (CRE) in 2006 as an investment sales / capital markets broker, when I was a young, green and enthusiastic chartered accountant. CRE hooked me then, and many years later, I keep on coming back for the hits. This industry runs on data, and is all about numbers. Moreover, it is incredibly complex – you always find yourself learning. But precisely because of this complexity, the industry is backward in its adoption of technology, and without tools. This creates exciting opportunities to provide efficiency and make a difference. Starting off my working life as an auditor, this opportunity to both add efficiency and be of value was intoxicating.
An industry with a bad rep
But with the passing of time I realised the industry has a major reputation problem. An undeserved reputation problem.
Brokers have a poor reputation.
Property owners have a bad reputation for not being straight.
Sometimes this is deserved.
Other times it is merely a function of CRE being complex. CRE’s numbers are big. It’s easy for outsiders to misunderstand things. And expectation gaps are misinterpreted as attempts by industry insiders to muddy the waters.
This is unfair. But it’s also a reality.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Like all industries, CRE’s professionals live on a continuum.
You have the hard-working, highly skilled, experienced, conscientious professionals on the one end.
Meanwhile, on the other, there are cowboys playing a game of crooks and robbers.
The problem: it is very difficult for industry outsiders to tell who is who!
So all industry players get tarred with the same brush.
Consequently, at best, talented people inside of this industry don’t get the credit and prestige they deserve. At worst, top professionals engage with prospective suspicious customers on the back foot, and are treated as guilty-until-proven-innocent.
As a result, and partly for this reason, the incredible CRE industry is not attractive to young, talented people. Young up and coming commerce professionals aspire to be investment bankers, fund managers, company directors. Not CRE professionals.
This must change
Where we can, we’re trying to change this status quo.
And we are not alone. There are many CRE professionals who want to see this change. The question for us is… how?
How do you change the perceptions of outsiders? Make outsiders see this industry and its hard-working professionals differently? Educate outsiders to see brokers and CRES providers for what they are – highly skilled and committed specialists, who are here to help, and can help good businesses make great decisions. Equip outsiders to engage with property owners without the frustration, the fear and the distrust. Help outsiders to value valuers – and appreciate the role they play, and responsibilities they honour. Encourage them to defer to the wisdom and smarts of analysts. Lean on commercial property debt funders as a source of capital.
Two levers of change
There may be more than two. We are open to guidance.
Firstly, this blog and related Gmaven outputs aims to empower industry outsiders to understand the complexity of this industry. To equip industry outsiders with information to evaluate the quality of service they receive – and separate the good guys from “the bad and the ugly” cowboys. From a technology perspective, as with Uber, Gmaven’s technology has the potential to educate consumers the differences between the “ugly” operators, who drag the industry’s reputation down, and the “good” professionals. By delivering the gift of improved efficiency to good CRE professionals, such CRE professionals are able to directly educate industry outsiders, through their actions, where “the bar” of professional CRE excellence is.
Secondly, we at Gmaven aim to give top CRE professionals the tools to work more efficiently, with less risk and with greater confidence. To honour the trust that their customers place in them. To provide the “jet fuel” for CRE professionals to impress industry outsiders with their professionalism, their insights, their problem-solving abilities.
End result: more of the good guys get more of the work.
This is what inspires us and drives us here every day. As the popular, often misattributed, saying goes:
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”
For us is there is powerful meaning and purpose behind effecting positive, and long-overdue change, to an inefficient (but massive) industry. An industry for which we care. And it’s certainly not easy. And we may fail. But what keeps us going is the hope, in the short time we are on this green rock, that we can make things better for many fellow people, for a long time to come.