Advice For Young Brokers – Who’s the Boss?

Five or six years ago, I was touring office space with a client in Seattle.  The local user was the head of the sales group and during the tour, he asked me a question that has stayed with me since.  He asked, “What’s the hardest part of your job?”

A few things popped in to my head immediately, but I really gave the question some thought.  About an hour later, I told him that I had it. I explained that the hardest part of my job is making every client feel like they are the most important. No one wants to feel like their needs are subordinate to someone else’s.

But for a young broker, without a lot of clients, I think the hardest part of the job, aside from cold calling, is figuring out who to listen to and when.

Finding the right mentor is difficult. Junior brokers get assigned to senior brokers or teams and are expected to listen, learn, get meetings, show space, stack buildings, write reports, get comps and market info and anything else they are told to do.

But even senior brokers have to figure out whom to listen to at times.

Recently, I was a meeting with a client. He asked me why we had agreed to a certain lease clause. There was a breakdown in the process and we needed to redo the lease to accommodate his stance on this particular clause.

I could have fought the issue, but instead, I followed the instructions of my client, against my better judgment.

After all, as brokers, we provide a service. We don’t own the buildings and we don’t have to pay the rent. I have been known to say (rather frequently), if we don’t provide our clients with the service they want, they will find someone else who will. It’s like Burger King’s old motto, “We do it your way”.

So who’s the boss? For each project and task, it could be different, which makes it challenging. At times, it’s a broker referring a piece of business. At other times, it’s a senior broker who needs assistance and other times, it’s the client themselves.

As a very interesting aside, I asked my junior partner, Matt Wassel, for his opinion on this topic. He explained that because he believes he’s on the right team (good answer), figuring out who to listen to is the easy part (yet another good answer). Figuring out why he’s being asked to do something a certain way isn’t always apparent.

As brokers, we aren’t given a formal course in how to train juniors. We don’t always take the time to explain why a certain task is to be done a certain way or why it’s being done at all. As a young broker, it’s important that you ask those questions. “Why this way?” or “What about another way?”

No matter what, please remember, we provide a service and if we don’t provide it the way they want, they will simply get it from someone else. You need to be your own advocate and ask the right questions of the right people. It’s figuring out who to ask and who to listen to that can be the tricky part.  Good luck!