Whether they’ll be able to fully rid the industry of relationships is another story. But there are some groups of users who do feel under-served. In fact, those smart people trying to get rid of you have done the work of identifying them for you.
That’s why brokerages have a great opportunity right now. There’s no reason brokerages can’t offer the same types of services those disruptors are offering. With built in name recognition, hands-on insight, a long client list and maybe easier access to capital, brokerages have advantages that few, if any, start-up have.
That’s what Jones, Lang, LaSalle has done with HiRise. Those small space user start-ups? They’ve been around long enough for the industry to realize that there’s something there. And JLL was able to convince enough owners in the Washington DC area of that. HiRise is a self-service leasing platform, that lists and hopes to fill up those smaller spaces that often remain vacant. But they didn’t stop there. On HiRise, you just don’t browse, select and make contact. You can also design the space, sign a lease and pay online.
HiRise is why I think JLL is the smartest brokerage in the world.
What’s even better is that they own the platform. Because they own it, JLL can link it to other systems. They can scale it for other purposes like retail pop-ups or co-working/office sharing space. Add a couple of other features and they’ve got an investor portal. Who knows where they could go with this?
Every brokerage should start looking at what the disruptors are doing. And I’m not talking about the tech tools for business processes, CRM or marketing. I’m talking about those looking to bypass the agent. They may be buddying up with you now, but once they build a base and gain some recognition, they won’t need you anymore.
If CRE disruptors are in your market, they’re there for a reason. Answering a need, sensing an opportunity. What – and how – are they doing? Maybe you should acquire them. Or maybe you take them head on. Even if a start-up has gained some traction, what’s wrong with a little competition from a brand name brokerage? If Microsoft, Google or Facebook shied away from copying or acquiring tech they didn’t create where would they be now? They all knew a good idea when they saw it and, for the most part, they were right.
There’s one more thing that makes JLL so smart. HiRise is public facing. Anyone can use it. No relationship needed. So just in case the future sees the demise of the business relationship and the rise of DIY real estate, they’re covered.
The CRE industry can’t afford to let others own the platform. Look at what happened to listing data. The residential sector owns its MLS. Even with all the fuss over data accessibility and sharing, it’s a platform that allows for nearly plug and play functionality with many other types of software and services and keeps them solidly in control of the product they’re selling. The commercial sector’s MLS is owned by others, mainly LoopNet. You can see who has the upper hand. Who wants that to happen again?