So What Do YOU Tell People You Do? Effectively conveying your value proposition in Corporate Real Estate


How many times are you at an industry or networking event and you have the opportunity to answer this question “So, what do you?”.

The first few times I said I worked in “corporate real estate”, the person’s eyes glazed over and followed up with questions about the generic real estate market. I’m sure we all have anecdotes about corporate real estate misperceptions, but with this field encompassing a $11.5 trillion market, I’m still surprised that more people in business don’t know what corporate real estate is or its impact on the fabric of company growth, culture and future development.

Whether you work in a company’s internal corporate real estate team as an “end user” or in the industry as “service providers”, being able to effectively convey your value proposition is paramount.

What value do players in Corporate Real Estate bring>

Corporate Real Estate Drives Financial Success
For most companies, real estate is the second highest expense (after salaries and wages), so the focus has sometimes been on getting the most space for the lowest cost. This narrow lens has resulted in real estate decisions being made as a “reaction” to events such as lease expirations, acquisitions, or market expansions.

Think about real estate in the context of balance sheet impacts, future growth projections and for public companies, shareholder value. For public companies, real estate savings can impact earnings per share ratios and impact their stock price and company values directly. The ability to take a more proactive approach drives tremendous synergies for financial success.

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Corporate Real Estate Drives Collaboration and Productivity
With the recent talent competition stemming from the explosive growth in the technology industry, and a potential demographic crunch, companies now realize their space can be used to extend brand and even be a tool for recruiting and retaining key employees. Today’s CRE professional sees fewer employee concerns around temperature control, system issues, and day-to-day facility headaches. Rather the CRE professional is working to provide environments that support company culture, enhance collaboration, and increase productivity.

Decisions regarding the location of a space can drive increased access to talent, key clients, and expanded market presence. Sustainability has increasingly become a key component of decision-making, with evidence that a better workplace with more access to natural daylight decreases sick-time and increases productivity.

Corporate Real Estate Drives Data Aggregation
Corporate real estate integrates information from Finance, HR, and IT to effectively plan for and manage growth and flexibility, striving to create a space that their people love.

Corporate Real Estate is often the group within a company that needs to manage information across departments to understand future growth, business planning needs, and how each department impacts a company’s overall financial success.

The role of CRE is even more important as companies grow globally and need for aggregation becomes critical. Companies suffer if decisions on future M&A, growth or consolidations are made in a silo. Effective CRE can integrate not only the cost of doing business, but also key labor demographics, infrastructure requirements and effective workplace strategies in different regions of the country or globe. With the explosion of “big data” and ever-more access to information, the CRE can manage, integrate, and use this information to align real estate strategies with a company’s business goals.

It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you help those that rely on you do their job better.

From overall real estate cost reduction, to the alignment of company goals with real estate strategies, company success relies heavily on a sophisticated and strategic Corporate Real Estate team. Today’s CRE professional does more than tactical execution on a project-by-project basis. When company leaders realize that real estate decisions not only drive employee satisfaction, but also productivity, cost reduction and innovation, corporate real estate evolves from an elusive term into a real asset.

Improving Your “Elevator Pitch” in Corporate Real Estate
  • Know who you’re talking to and what’s important to them. As a service provider we’re always working to make our client, usually the Director of Real Estate, the rockstar at his or her company. This means helping them speak the language of their CEO, CFO, Board, and whoever else may be knocking at their door.
  • Get away from the titles and focus on your value proposition. It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you help those that rely on you do their job better. Sometimes a title can limit how others perceive you so give more examples of recent work you’ve done and tie it to a metric that the person you’re talking to cares about.
  • Be a chameleon. You want your director of finance to think you’re a financial modeling whiz and know they can count on you to comment on key balance sheet implications. You want your IT manager to think you’re a tech junkie and speak openly about critical challenges, needs, and opportunities within IT. For me, educating myself in the business of those that I work with has helped me more effectively communicate and more efficiently tackle challenges.

So at my next industry event when someone asks what I do, I’ll say, “I help companies improve culture, collaboration, and drive profit for a more successful growth strategy.” What will you say?