I Create a Billion Dollar Commercial MLS.Step 1: Customer Service.

Ambition,stupidity,ridiculous,brilliant,balls out,world shaking,savant. I have heard worse.Think of the companies and products for commercial real estate that did not exist ten years ago.What will happen in the next ten years? Someone(me?) WILL build an international commercial real estate multiple listing service.It will most certainly be worth more than a billion dollars but why not set goals that you can attain.Step 1: start with……

Customer service interaction and satisfaction:Seems strange to have those words as the basis to build a commercial real estate MLS. What may seem as “normal” for today’s weekly phone call and gold star next to your name pandering will be replaced by a genuine respect for the wants and needs of commercial real estate partners.How will it be done?

1. Multi-Chanel  Core Customer Interaction Channels:

Telephone. The human voice with an actual human on the other end.

-Email. Some say the next generation will not use it. When they get real jobs they will.

Online media:

-Twitter.In whatever form it may be. Short concise communication directly to people who”opt in.”

-Blogs.The online home base.

-Streaming Video.Two to five minute leaning, sharing, teaching visuals.


-YouTube. Quietly dominant and useful tools.

-Facebook. Yes I know but you can’t ignore them yet.

-Google. All Hail.

2. Culture:The number one priority as a company will be company culture. Get the culture right, then most of the other stuff, like building a long-term brand or delivering great customer service, will just naturally happen on its own. Make it stand out for its personality, individuality and, yes, friendliness. Something social. Not automated. Not designed to make a sale quickly.

3.  Ambition:To build a collection of businesses or services that are “powered by customer service.’’ To be equated with service in the way that no other in commercial real estate has ever been.

4. Stay Based in Reality: Social media and online platforms are just tools. Don’t completely rely on another platform for message delivery.140-character messages may not always be the best way to interact with customers. For that, “the really effective social media” is still.



5. Social Media is not to drive up sales: Blogs,microblogs and streaming video have a different purpose,these tools will give the public glimpses into how we as a company act. They are not used to drive up sales,although that may happen, as a byproduct. (These are the pre-cursors to the sale).

6. Social Media will lower costs: Although the various video tutorials,waves of tweets and blog postings likely save the company significant sums on other conventional forms of brand advertising. The cost of reaching out to past,present or potential customers in these micro media can and will be but a minute fraction of what a traditional brand would spend.

7.Why even look for a return on that investment? (ROI). What metrics are important? None! Making the customer happier is always going to win in the long run.There’s no way to trace a straight line from all this dialogue,digital or otherwise, to the ability to sell.

8. Social Media will be a customer relationship management (CRM) system for the digital customer: The company is made up of individuals. Happy individuals.Be a company full of people you’d like to get to know.The question is, how do you break through that coldness? How do you create some character?

-The entire company on Twitter.

-Everyone at the company can and will contribute to the company blog. Make it fun and “different.”

– Make it personal. Show actual humans at work and what they do. Have some fun.

-Create an environment that makes everyone in the company a spokesperson for the company on and offline.

9. Streaming video: Anyone at the company at almost any time can become a star.Make it interesting in 5 minutes or less.

10. Video accountability: Build a database of online reviews and opinions from customers.For all to view. Goal:Millions

11. Social Media Marketing Campaigns: Build the human side of the company.Showing humanity and personality is totally counter to anything in the faceless commercial real estate industry.People can just be themselves.

12. Inside and Out: Talking about the company inside and outside the industry.The “WOW” factor transcends commercial real estate. Make it a human experience.

13.Step 1:A great start.This is a company based on customer service and interaction that can and will be able to compete with anyone no matter how much money,history,tradition,clients,contracts,connections or data they have. Step 2? Your thoughts?


Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/jazzlover/ Via Flickr





Duke Long

  • I’d love to have either your money, or your drugs, Duke. Let me know if you need help. I’m a glutton for punishment myself.

  • Sounds like a startup in the making?? Need a monkey boy to run around the office on a scooter?

    • Gabriel,
      Why yes I do! Talent is hard to come by!

  • Richard


    I agree that there will be a ginormous international commercial real estate web-something, but I don’t see why it has to necessarily be an MLS. Whatever it is though, it’ll only be sustainable (whatever its ROI turns out to be) if it has built-in “integrity”. There’s potential for a lot of global garbage out there and some of it might be quite profitable, but nothing will last unless it is really really credible and deservedly so.

    We’ve just seen the “success” of airbnb, but I don’t see what it has that makes it built to last. It’s based on trust (which is a good start), but that doesn’t guarantee truth. It may sound old-fashioned, but it’s only smart governance that’ll protect the brand and guarantee an effective (rather than a merely enthusing) experience.

    That governance might turn out to be just some guiding principles or a heavyweight audit process. Dunno which, but it’s the first tab I’m going to click on when I visit http://www.dukelongdoesitglobally.com.

    Bye Richard

    • Dammit Richard,
      I hate when I agree with you. BTW my wife wants to buy that domain NOW. I got skillz! :):)

  • Lowell

    add transparency to the list…

  • Richard

    Lowell, If you add transparency (though its more of an effect than a cause) to truth and trust, then you arrive at the three TRs of real estate: TRuth, TRust and TRansparency. We should be so lucky.

  • Dave Lewand

    CRE 2.0 – why not? There’s an audience of CRE – independent buyers, space users, managers – that might gravitate toward a single source of open data and and/or proven professionals. The single source would have to prove its worth quickly and induce participation and contribution. Not a complete pipe dream – the international WordPress developers community, for example, competes against each other and contributes with each other. What would the CRE 2.0 website look like?… a map, dammit! A map with a layer of physical CRE surrounded by data achieved and portrayed by contributors anxious to showcase their niche. OK I’m going to stop myself now!

    • Dave,
      Hang in there ….ya never know!

  • Howard Kline

    If you haven’t already, you should read “Good to Great.” Very insightful on how to create a great and lasting company. Unfortunately, a few of his great companies, such as World Savings and Circuit City are no longer with us. P.S., that is really me, 40 years ago.

    • Howard,
      I read it years ago. Maybe there is a next step?

    • Other than the funny looking shirt, you haven’t changed a bit.

  • Sounds like Zappos… If someone could do it for shoes, why not CRE?

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