There's a subtle shift occurring in the real estate brokerage industry. Clients are demanding more from their broker partners, and it is becoming more and more difficult to master the myriad tasks necessary to successfully serve clients while simultaneously building more business. While a majority of brokers are still going it alone, many brokers are forming teams to meet the growing needs of their clients.

Teams have much to offer collectively, and they avoid the “John Wayne syndrome” of playing strictly one part. In other words, team members can broaden their service offerings so they can better weather the cyclical nature of the business.

Colliers Turley Martin Tucker is a microcosm of this trend. Each of the company's seven regional offices now has brokers who have banded together. This enables the team members to offer more — and better — services to their clients, as well as diversify their client base.

In fact, among Colliers Turley Martin Tucker's 400-plus licensed professionals, those on broker teams have consistently produced the best results, leading the company in transaction dollar volume, major transactions and overall number of transactions.

Client Demands Multiply

Most commercial real estate brokers entered the industry because they wanted to run their own show while reaping large financial rewards through hard work. Today's market, though, requires more than a single broker may be able to juggle.

Consider this assignment: A local insurance agency hires Colliers Turley Martin Tucker to assist in expanding its space before its lease expires.

This simple tenant-rep assignment can quickly mushroom into a far-reaching project. The client wants to explore all options, including buying an existing building. The option to buy at an economically feasible price, though, is difficult. Too many buyers are chasing the limited supply of 10,000 sq. ft. to 20,000 sq. ft. office buildings. Consequently, it's imperative to compare buying an existing building to buying land and then constructing a new building.

What began as a leasing assignment becomes a multi-pronged approach to explore alternatives. Few brokers, if any, have expertise in all of these areas, which include leasing, investment, land analysis and development. A team approach has a much better chance of providing the expertise to handle all of these facets.

Teams can pool their resources and talents to provide clients with better information and complete any part of a project in a timelier manner. Teams also allow brokers to manage assignments while marketing their services to new clients. Typically, brokers working alone market their services but shift their focus to execution once they land an assignment. Teams have a strategic advantage since they now can work on both selling and executing simultaneously.

Rounding Up Partners

Senior management plays a leading role in encouraging and fostering the team concept. It's also imperative to determine who will perform certain responsibilities to drive the team's collective success. This vertical integration ensures that a team takes advantage of each member's strengths.

Take, for example, our three-person team at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. A senior member is designated as the quarterback, due to his brokerage experience and expertise in commercial real estate law, as well as his organizational and leadership skills to keep the team focused.

Another team member serves as the running back, because he has handled numerous office and investment assignments. He knows the market inside and out. Plus, his network of brokers and key contacts in the development and construction industries give him the contacts to expedite and complete assignments.

The junior member of the team worked in property management before deciding to become a broker. He handles the details — updating vacancies, searching for properties, preparing proposals. He shores up the team as a lineman while he learns the business.

Formalizing the team structure requires an understanding of how each team member benefits financially. Some teams do a simple split; in other cases it's agreed upfront that the veteran brokers will receive a bigger share of the profits. The team approach works for Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, and it just may work for other brokerages as well.

Kevin Gallagher is a vice president and principal, Dave Kelpe is a second vice president, and Arthur Kerckhoff is an office broker in the St. Louis office of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker.