Over the last few months, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have been touring Europe and this week returned stateside with shows in Fenway Park. Bruce, at the age of 62, is playing some of the longest shows of his legendary career, which is all the more impressive when you consider his reputation for three-plus hour shows. The last show of the European leg was officially the longest of his career, checking in at four hours and six minutes and that doesn't include the five song acoustic set he did about an hour before the show actually started. Some of the band members have been interviewed while in Europe and they all make special mention of the European crowds. Even Bruce's manager went out of his way last week to applaud the crowds, saying the crowds in Scandinavia were "among the greatest I have ever seen–for any artist". While I am sure the crowds were great, I am sure they more than appreciated the effort being put forth by Bruce and Band.
There's more competition now for our entertainment dollar than ever before. There's a million channels on television, you can stream movies to your mobile device, watch YouTube clips anywhere, get tickets for less than face value for most events on StubHub, and on and on. Bruce knows this and is delivering for those that spend the money to come to the shows.
While attending the shows Wednesday night at Fenway Park, I realized that in some ways, I am Bruce's client. I can choose to see other concerts, the same way that my clients can choose different service providers. He works hard, varying the set lists, putting out new material, and raising the bar to make sure that fans like me keep coming back.
However, there's a level of responsibility that lies with the fans also. We show up and demand more. Some people bring signs, hoping he will play their favorite obscure song, some travel from city to city following the tour, and everyone cheers. Even after 3.5 hours, the crowd is on their feet hoping for one more song.
Our clients are demanding more also. In the last ten years, corporate real estate transactions have become more complex. Gone are the days of getting deals done on a napkin while at lunch or at the bar. Ten years ago, financial analysis was something we did on a cash-only basis and for some of us, it was easy; now some of our clients are asking for both cash and GAAP analysis and want to know the post-tax implications. Landlords don't want to hear the same old answers as to how we are going to fill buildings, even if the methods are solid. Brokers in general are being pushed to get better, more creative, add more value, or get out of the way to make room for someone who can.
Real estate isn't just a local business anymore. We can pull data on any market in the world in a moment's notice. We know if we don't respond well and quickly, some of our clients will begin to look elsewhere for the information they are seeking. We are truly competing with more brokers than ever before and need to up our game to maintain our position in the market.
When our clients push us to get better, expand our skill set, and think outside of the dreaded box, it makes the projects all the more interesting and the satisfaction of a job well done that much sweeter. When they are actually appreciative of the effort, it makes us want to deliver more. The crowd in Boston Wednesday night did their job, pushing Bruce and he responded with arguably the best US stadium show since 2003. Now that I am back in the office, I look forward to my clients doing the same for me so I can deliver for them.