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Building Relationships is Key to Real Brokerage Success

12/01/2004, By Noah Freedman

Many successful residential rental brokerages have built their business model upon providing the highest level of customer service.

There is no doubt that providing apartment seekers with well-trained, knowledgeable and professional brokers will go a long way to producing satisfied customers.

However, it is just part of the model for success. Many companies have been able to distinguish themselves in a very competitive industry by creating a reputation for top-notch service.

Most firms have instituted rigorous training programs and established operations that cater to prospective tenants. Key ingredients to a successful rental brokerage program are personable representatives that are knowledgeable about the market, support systems so brokers have access to the latest information and constantly updated listings so that the product is always fresh.

The ability to provide listings and develop new leads is what truly sets the best brokerages apart from the rest. Real estate is a relationship business and the relationship between the agency and the landlords is critical to a successful operation.

It is that relationship that is the cornerstone of a listings database that will help attract business and produce referrals. All the customer service in the world cannot produce an apartment if the listings are not being generated. However, a network of landlord relationships and building connections does not happen overnight.

Competition for listings is fierce and they are best had by carefully cultivating relationships with the owners and providing them with the same high level of service that has become expected from the customer side.

With the supply of rental apartments on the short side, landlords can choose who they want to list their apartments with. They can and will demand a certain level of service. Brokerages are wise to cater to all kinds of landlords.

Proper screening of applicants and follow-up with all parties to ensure a smooth transaction are essential. Becoming a resource for landlords--through the sharing of market knowledge such as comparable rents in the area--can also help build rapport.

In areas like Greenwich Village and the East Village, where smaller multi-family buildings dominate the landscape, the relationship factor comes into play even more. These landlords particularly like the personal touch. They like to deal with principals, something that is harder for the brokerage conglomerates to arrange.

In the long run, tending to the relationship on both sides of the rental equation will help business thrive. Landlords will be pleased with the process and the quality of applicants and the customers will benefit from a larger selection of buildings and apartments.  

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