News & Research Archive

"Uncertain Times" - Forget it !

Dec 15, 2008

“Uncertain Times” Forget it its Opportunity Time


Are you tired of hearing that we are in “uncertain times”? What does it mean anyway? Aren’t all times uncertain unless you have a plan?


My best year ever in commercial real estate was 1991 considered by some to have been a slight depression year not a recession year. I have never been able to match that year’s production since, but I have to tell you I am really excited about 2009 because it should be a year of nothing but opportunity if you approach the year right.


You can enter 2009 one of two ways. First you can continue doing business the way you have previously been doing it or you can do business an entirely different way.  Some sales training books will tell you to stick with what you do best and just keep doing it in a good market or bad, and yes that would probably work if you truly are in the front of the pack of salespeople that do what you do. The problem is if you are not in the front of the pack, and you are now competing for lesser and lesser opportunities; then, you may not be able to win enough of the business that is available in a downturn.


Another approach is to go in the opposite direction of everyone else in your market. An example would be fish swimming towards a food chain that is diminished. If the majority of the fish swim upstream because that is what they always do to find their largest share of food does that mean that down the river they did not leave behind food.


This will be my fifth down cycle. Getting older starts paying off because we truly can see what is coming and how to adjust. As an independent entrepreneurial type of business I have always gone the other way in a market cycle to pick up with is leftover.


I was in the food business for ten years and built that business up to be one of the largest independent food operators in Northern California by watching my larger national competitors give up account after account that they no longer deemed profitable in a downturn economy. We in turn picked up those accounts, grew our business and when the market adjusted upward we were able to keep these accounts and grow even more.


Here are things to consider:


Are you a tenant rep broker, then maybe it’s time to add listings to your business?


Do you concentrate in one area of your market, then maybe you need to spread your territory out?


Are you staying in touch with your old clients regularly? If not now, is it the time to do so? If you are, what are you discussing with them? It is time to learn where your clients are right now in terms of their business and their real estate needs. And, it is time to figure out plans of actions that you can present to them to deal with their current financial situation.


Are you paying attention to what your competition is doing? What are they doing? Learn and then think about looking at areas they are no longer concentrating in.


A client of mine that is in the secondary mortgage business taught me an important lesson recently. I assumed he must be near out of business and ready to “shoot himself”

No he was actually doing quite well in this market. First he does not read the newspaper. He keeps anything negative away from him mindset. Next, he knows that his business still exists and simply keeps working it. He may have to make more calls then he used to but he keeps working it. Finally he said he is thinking of ways to expand his business because the best time to expand is when everyone else is not.

Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 23 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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