Tenant Advisory Group is a Chicago-based real estate brokerage that prides itself on being true consultants and advocates for their clients and building strong client relationships. For the past year, brokers Diana Himmelstein and Tina Crnkovich have been using TrussCRE, our broker enablement platform, to further engage and strengthen their client relationships. We recently sat down with them – virtually, of course – to discuss their approach to brokerage and how TrussCRE (the same technology used by our very own brokers) has helped them strengthen their relationships and keep deals moving, even now.
Truss: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Tell me more about Tenant Advisory Group. How does TAG do things differently?
Tina: Instead of focusing on just the transaction side and getting deals closed, we differentiate ourselves by forming meaningful, long-lasting relationships with our clients. Being a smaller company, we like to see how we can help our clients grow their businesses as well by making meaningful connections and introductions. We want to be viewed as a trusted advisor in more than just real estate.
Diana: We focus significant effort on supporting the business and philanthropic goals of our clients and network partners. We host breakfasts, luncheons, educational forums and fun events, as well as continuously making strategic introductions between business owners in our network. All of these efforts have resulted in our business being ~90-95% referral-based, with a significant portion of our transactions made up of repeat clients as well.
Truss: What would you say is your favorite part of your job?
Tina: I like that every deal we work on is different than the last. It's always changing, and it keeps me on my toes. I enjoy the challenge of finding each of our clients the perfect space.
I also love seeing all the different spaces and buildings in the city. You come across some real hidden gems that you might not have ever known existed.
Diana: One of my favorite aspects of our business is the ability to meet and work with so many smart and successful entrepreneurs who are great people and also doing great things for the community. Our clients span a wide array of industries, and I love learning about each of our clients and their unique business needs.
"One of my favorite aspects of our business is the ability to meet and work with so many smart and successful entrepreneurs"
Truss: What drew you to TrussCRE? How do you use it?
Tina: Any way we can use technology to simplify the CRE process makes deals easier for both us and our clients. I think that they like the transparency that it provides, being able to see the pricing for themselves. They can see the building amenities, floorplans, virtual tours.
Before [TrussCRE] we had to go out and spend hours upon hours touring things that maybe didn’t make sense, so this really makes it a lot more streamlined. When you go out and tour spaces back to back all day long, they really start to run together, but when you can look at them side by side with all the information and the floorplans on your computer it’s a lot easier to compare and narrow them down.
Diana: TrussCRE has been more important now than ever for us. With people working at home, we’ve been able to keep the process moving using TrussCRE. Having virtual tours filmed of our listings and being able to share those with potential tenants has been great. Otherwise nobody is seeing these spaces, so being able to send those links and get some exposure while people aren’t out and about, people really appreciate being able to fully view the space with those virtual tours. That’s been really great for us to keep the process moving during this time.
"TrussCRE has been more important now than ever for us."
Truss: Where do you see technology going in commercial real estate?
Tina: I see technology being a major part of CRE in the near future. People want to feel like they have all of the information and are fully educated on the decision they are going to make - real estate is usually the one of the biggest expenses for business owners. In this current market, we are finding the technology side of CRE to be absolutely crucial. Clients don't feel safe going out and touring space, but they still need to make decisions on how they plan to move forward and are working against deadlines. Platforms like TrussCRE allow them to not only see spaces that are available, but to see them in great detail with floor plans, photos and virtual tours.
Diana: I think people will increasingly want the ability to carry out real estate transactions from anywhere, so technology will have to be incorporated to allow the entire process to be virtual. Useful office leasing technology, such as better tools that help people make decisions about size, layout and location will be key in the future.
Truss: What are your thoughts on the future of CRE brokerage and how is TAG addressing those matters?
Tina: TAG is always looking for the newest advances that will help us serve our clients as best and efficiently as possible. Becoming involved with TrussCRE was a no-brainer for us. Knowing it could not only streamline the process for our clients, we find it useful for business development as well.
Diana: Brokers are going to need to become more consultative by nature and start acting as trusted advisors. Thankfully TAG is well-positioned as we are already taking on that approach and we frequently have people in our network reaching out to us for advice about real estate, as well as many other non-real estate related aspects of their business.