It’s not about the money. Ok, it’s a little about the money, but money, as the only variable in an acquisition decision, rarely leads to good decisions.
Over the past several months we have seen a wave of acquisitions in the commercial real estate arena. Cassidy Turley just finalized its sale to DTZ. Earlier this month, New York power brokerage house Massey Knakal, sold to Cushman & Wakefield for a reported $100 million, and scores of independent firms have aligned with national organizations in 2014 and this trend is expected to continue in 2015. Several prognosticators feel there may be less than 4 power CRE firms within the next 24 months.
If you are an owner of an independent firm, you have to consider what my own personal business coach calls, the “Lighthouse”. What is the exit strategy, success plan or merger/acquisition plan? (To learn more about these options – please see our CRE Brokerage Owners Success Series).
Last week, Bob Knakal, former Chairman of Massey Knakal, who is a coaching client of the Massimo Group, outlined the 10 reasons why he and his partner Paul Massey sold their brokerage business after 26 years of unprecedented success. Bob outlined components, in his article published in the Commercial Observer, that any owner of a brokerage firm, regardless of size, should consider when evaluating a potential sale.
By the way, if you want to interact directly with Bob, he will be our guest this Thursday, January 29 for a live discussion on how he and his team sold $2Billion in assets in 2014 and his plans to surpass this in 2015. Click here to register for this free webinar.
With Bob’s permission we are sharing these 10 Key Considerations, from his article:
Most observes of this process are likely to conclude that the money was what made our decision for us. It was certainly part of the calculus but, more importantly, C&W was the best fit for us and we chose them for that reason. Commercial real estate is a people business and the chemistry was perfect. There were several other significant issues that tipped the scales in C&W’s favor. It was clear to us that the firm’s collaborative culture, impeccable brand and highly ethical and talented people would benefit our professional quality of life moving forward. Additionally, their “Client Only” approach and set of core values, which were the root of Massey Knakal’s success, were congruent with ours. C&W’s aggressive pursuit of this acquisition was indicative of their very ambitious plans to invest in foundation cities globally. We were feeling great about the possibilities.
Here are our top 10 reasons why the deal with Cushman made the most sense for us:
1) It was better for our clients
By aligning ourselves with a full service, global commercial real estate advisory firm, we can offer greater services and secure a greater number of buyers and users for our client’s assets. Simply put, we can now deliver the highest level of service and superior results for our clients.
2) It was better for our people
By aligning ourselves with C&W, all our agents and associates have enhanced tool sets, or simply more arrows in their respective quivers to help them succeed.
3) Time for a Change
Paul and I celebrated our 26th anniversary last year. We have grown from 2 to over 100 professional investment advisors and have become the premier investment advisory firm in the market. We have always looked for new challenges, and this strategic growth opportunity will be completely new for us – it’s quite exciting.
4) Expansion of our proven approach and model
The C&W team recognized the power and benefits of our Territory System and will explore continuing to utilize this platform moving forward.
5) Continuity of client specific – owner specific service
Aligning with C&W will allow us to continue offer client specific – owner specific service.
6) Great opportunity for cross selling
After we started our retail leasing and mortgage brokerage divisions, we quickly observed the power of cross-selling services. With C&W, we can offer every service imaginable to our clients.
7) I get to stay focused on what I do
Knowing Paul will continue to manage, and our people will continue to service their clients, I will be allowed to not only continue to focus on brokering, but will also continue to grow. I still love what I do and don’t see any scenario under which I am not brokering for the very long-term.
8) I can continue to work on “bigger deals”
In 2014, I personally secured several “high dollar” listings that many once considered outside of Massey Knakal’s abilities. We closed those “bigger deals” with the same high level of client engagement and same expectation exceeding results for our clients. C&W should provide a platform where I can continue to work on these “bigger deals”, while still working with the owners I have represented for the past 31 years.
9) It was time for my team to grow
Not only in personnel – we are now up to 14 team members, but also in terms of volume. In 2012, my team and I facilitated over $1 billion in asset sales. In 2014, we sold 142 properties having a market value of approximately $2.2 billion. Many of those on my team are becoming more mature in the business and as a team we all want to continue to grow.
10) Increasing market share
Our platform and approach has earned us the position of top selling commercial brokerage house in NY in terms of number of properties sold for the last 14 years. We believe we can expand this market share by working with Cushman & Wakefield
One of my childhood friends, who is in the commercial real estate business, summed it up best: “Knak, you guys have been kicking ass using pea shooters and water pistols. Imagine what you will be able to do with rocket launchers and nuclear weapons at your disposal”. The future could not be more bright.
Consistent with Bob Knakal’s reflections, there are a variety of factors to evaluate when considering a sale of your brokerage firm. We are currently assisting a handful of firms with this evaluation process. Price is only one component. People, processes, transition planning, and contractual commitments must be defined, along with the two most resounding intangibles, your culture and the true impact on your clients.
To hear more from Bob Knakal directly, please click here for an opportunity to interact live with Bob, this Thursday, January 29th.
For more about acquisition, succession and brokerage retention planning, please click here to learn about our upcoming CRE Brokerage Owners Success Series.