In Mid-August on a Monday morning, the Wall Street Journal carried a front page story on the foreclosure of a prime commercial development on the west coast; the very same day, section B covered the virtual halt in the commercial real estate market in another part of the country. This week, a Bloomberg news headline read “Commercial Property Values Fall as Rent Drop Forecast”. Bottom line, this is not what associations want to see on in the news. Life is not good for your commercial members.
While on a long delay Friday night, I sat myself on the floor of Washington Regan Airport (with nowhere else to sit), and thought about what an association might do to encourage one segment of your membership who is struggling. Here are three ideas to get you to start thinking:
1. Consider your value proposition to these members. Even though they may be a small segment, is there a thorny issue in your city or state that you can watch, influence or even overcome for them? When you take this on, you help stimulate their business and begin changing their mindset about their business? You probably already do some legislative or political action work on behalf of your members. Get the word out so that your members understand the value of your efforts and what it means to them. Legislative affairs may be the least understood member benefit – in any industry.
2. When there is some good news, like Bloomberg reported just yesterday about existing home sales up 7.2%, encourage commercial members that positive news for the industry is good for all segments – so keep looking for the opportunities that are out there – albeit fewer, those who are looking full time will get the breaks.
3. From coast to coast I see commercial REALTORS® who avoid their residential counterparts. Look for RCA members in your association who get referrals from their residential counterparts. Promote the heck out of it. Tell the stories. Help change the culture. One testimonial from an influential member can sway a lot of long-standing public opinion.
If you say no to these ideas, I trust you can go find a solution of your own. Don’t hide behind the “RCA is a small segment of our membership” excuse. Like one savvy CEO told me, “What’s good for commercial business, and your town square is good for selling houses.”