How Metro Commercial took its retail tenant representation program national
By Tom Londres, Chief Executive Officer and Principal, Metro Commercial
At Metro Commercial Real Estate, Inc., we guide retailers and owners in finding solutions to their retail real estate needs. Our three main services include tenant representation, landlord representation, and property management. Landlord representation and tenant representation are similar, but these services are usually utilized on opposite sides of the table. When representing landlords, we assist by securing the right tenant to fill a vacancy. With tenant representation, we assist by finding the perfect space and location for a retailer. With property management, we oversee the day-to-day operations of retail assets by executing full accounting/financial reporting and property operations/maintenance.
Up until about 20 years ago, Metro focused its efforts on providing these three main services in our “backyard” — about a 90-mile radius from Philadelphia, PA, which encompasses parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Through the deep trust we have built, many of our clients have asked us for assistance with their nationwide expansions outside of our “backyard” geography.
At first, we were reluctant to take these assignments, recognizing that retail is a very localized business, and if not handled properly, could hurt our existing core business. In order to be successful, retail brokers need to be leading experts in their markets, down to the street level. However, this challenge presented itself as an opportunity for Metro to grow its platform, so we decided to expand our services to meet our clients growing needs.
Putting national tenant representation into action
After much planning and deliberations, we launched a plan that would allow us to adequately support our clients nationally — Metro’s Master Brokerage Platform. Here’s how it works:
When facilitating a national requirement for one of our retail clients, we essentially act as the “middle man.” We know our clients intimately because we’ve represented them for years, but we need the local insight to ensure they get the exact right locations for their businesses. To achieve this, we team with an experienced local retail brokerage firm that is an expert in the specific targeted geography. Having the local expert joined with our in-depth knowledge of the clients’ needs enables us to build a winning team. Having relationships with these local experts is key to successfully, quickly, and effectively introducing a client to a new geography. We work closely with these local experts employing our proven systems to make the systems entire process effortless for our clients. Based on numerous past experiences, clients trust that we have their best interests in mind as we evaluate all available expansion options according to their strict and unique criteria’s.
Since implementing the Master Brokerage Platform, Metro has successfully expanded our business offerings to Lumber Liquidators from the East Coast to the West Coast, BJ’s Wholesale Club from the Eastern Seaboard to the Midwest, PetSmart across 18 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, Save-A-Lot across all 50 states, Dave & Busters across 37 states and Puerto Rico, and Target in four states to name a few examples. This platform enables our clients to cut costs and streamline their expansion initiatives, and it eliminates the need for them to hire, train and manage in-house professionals and/or a multitude of third-party brokers. Clients have seen this platform as a competitive advantage that offers a solution to their expansion process in today’s ever-changing retail environment.
Where the Master Brokerage Platform will come into play going forward
A major recent trend we’re seeing in the retail industry is digitally native retailers setting up brick-and-mortar stores for their brands. These retailers realize the importance of being omnichannel and are looking to rent physical space. At the same time, some of the best pieces of real estate are finally becoming unlocked with recent “big-box” retailer closings including Macy’s, Sears, and Kmart. This is where Metro’s expertise and national tenant representation capabilities can help these online retailers navigate the brick-and-mortar scene in every corner of the U.S. by teaming up with local experts when needed. Metro’s Master Brokerage Platform is a perfect solution to quickly mobilize a team of tenured real estate experts aligned to source physical locations that meet the expanding retailers’ exact needs.
Each year, Metro expands our national reach through new clients engaging us to serve as Master Broker. In the coming years, we expect more commercial real estate firms to adopt a national strategy as brick-and-mortar retail takes precedence. With more online retailers seeking out physical storefronts and big-box spaces becoming available, time is of the essence. For brokers, it’s important to stay nimble to maximize opportunities on a larger scale. This master brokerage technique will continue to relinquish in-house multi-market coordination to an outsourced expert, ultimately expanding their and our footprints and capabilities beyond expectations.