Real estate visionary, Sr. Managing Partner at ABI Multifamily, and Co-founder of Neighborhood Ventures real estate crowdfunding company.
“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” This is a mantra I embrace under normal circumstances — in business and in life. But it’s become tattooed on my brain during these unprecedented times. And while many companies have put growth on the backburner in 2020, I would argue a growth mindset is even more important now.
When the pandemic first hit, it was a shock to everyone. Most of us followed our instincts to hit the pause button and assess the situation. However, what we thought would be a two-week shutdown eventually morphed into months of economic slowdown, and more than a little uncertainty and fear. Life as we know it has been disrupted on so many levels. Uncertainty can be scary, it’s true. But when you bury your head in the sand and hunker down in fear, nothing good will come of it.
In my industry, multifamily brokerage, so many competitors in Phoenix and elsewhere are dramatically cutting staff and eliminating services. The brokers who remain at these companies have been sent home and basically abandoned. And from what I hear, it’s a pretty grim existence. I am proud to say our company has taken the opposite approach, and I’ve learned a lot about embracing a growth mindset through the process.
Prioritize, pivot and realign resources.
Now is the time to upgrade systems and grow your team by hiring the best people. Heading into the pandemic, you likely had a handful of items that had gotten a little too cozy in their permanent spot on the to-do list, as we did. The slowdown of a pandemic has created the perfect opportunity to realign resources.
For instance, we put our graphic designers to work redesigning our marketing platform and rolling out a new set of designs for all company materials. We worked with our attorneys to retool documentation, made our workspace more functional and crafted a plan for how we would grow. Pivoting doesn’t always mean changing your business model. It can also mean shifting your focus onto things you should be doing to come out of this stronger.
Keep your brand front and center.
It’s a natural reaction to go into resource conservation mode when the financial future is uncertain. However, when you look to similar situations and outcomes for guidance, you’ll see that in past recessions, the companies that succeeded were the ones that went on the offensive, finding opportunities to promote themselves and investing in public relations, advertising and marketing.
Attract new talent.
When I saw how our competitors were reacting, I knew this was a time when we could reach out to brokers. Under normal circumstances, good brokers would never consider changing companies. However, during an uncertain time like this, people are reassessing their situations and asking themselves if they really want to stay with an employer who might not be the best at what they do. Talented employees are looking for options. If you can offer them an attractive place that is growing and building a strong team, you might have a unique growth opportunity.
Retain current talent.
Never forget that what makes you great is the people you have. It is critical to make sure your current team is happy. Communication is key. During crises like these, make it a priority to send out updates to brokers and staff and call them regularly, making sure everyone knows they are not out there on an island. It is human nature to want to be around people. We are fortunate in that our open floor plan and expansive building provides plenty of room to be socially distant while still together, but if physical separation is necessary, make sure to create opportunities for interactions — even if they’re virtual.
Make a commitment to growth.
We recently brought on a recruiter to help develop our business. This was someone we had been talking to for a while, and due to circumstances, he was reevaluating his career path. The more we talked, the more excited he got about joining us. Now he is helping us expand markets where we can create synergies and find good people.
Bottom line: If you find brilliant people who are looking to make a change in their lives, hire them. This opportunity might never present itself again.
I encourage real estate business leaders to make the conscious decision to grow the company debt-free, or at a minimum, be cautious of taking on debt. Sometimes those decisions to bring on debt can handicap you down the road and really hurt. When markets change, you don’t want to worry about paying debt service, which can make it hard to focus on growth.
It’s time to pivot and put your resources to work in different ways. Teams should not be sitting on their hands, waiting for business to pick up. Encourage sharing, so that if something is working well for a broker in one office, they tell others and the success can be replicated. We all have limited resources and can’t force the market to change, but what we can do is take what we have and use it in a better way.
We don’t know when this crisis will truly be over, but right now, I’m seeing that people are excited to come in and work. Nobody is hunched over or feeling defeated. We must do what we can to promote good business practices and help people in any way we can. It is time to be collaborating and growing — take it from me, it feels good. Onward and upward.
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