Last month, we had the pleasure of visiting NAI Partners at their Houston office. It was great to get back to Apto’s roots, given that we started off in the Woodlands, Texas before making the move to Denver.
We brought a team of three Apto employees from Product & Engineering with the intention of learning how NAI Partners is using Apto and what we could improve. Little did we know we’d be walking away with insight into how one of the best-in-breed brokerages has become, and stayed, so successful.
A little background on NAI Partners
NAI Partners is the 5th largest Houston-area commercial brokerage and employs over 100 real estate professionals, including many who have over 20 years of experience. Their office is located near the upscale urban development known as the Galleria just west of downtown Houston.
It’s only fitting that the office is nestled in a mixed-use playground comprised of nearly every type of tenant imaginable. There are 40-story office buildings, restaurants, retail, and many others right outside the front door. The large conference room in NAI Partners’ office has a bird’s-eye view of one of the busiest highways in the country, which really makes you feel the current of a bustling city.
Jon Silberman, Managing Partner, was one of several NAI Partners employees who graciously took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with us and talk about how he runs such a successful team. (If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first episode of Common Area, in which Jon shares his own personal tips to success, including the advice that you must always be prospecting.)
How they set up new brokers for success
NAI Partners uses what they call a “Farm Team” to teach their new brokers the ins and outs of the job. They learn how to be a broker in conjunction with the company technology, enabling them to perform better and faster right from the get-go.
The training curriculum is actually a useful recruiting tool because aspiring brokers are excited to hear that NAI Partners will arm them with the tools they’ll need to quickly ramp up in the role. Plus, managing brokers are better equipped to track the new brokers’ progress, so they know where and when to provide guidance.
“I’m a deep believer in the value of training and continuing education — not just in commercial real estate, but in any chosen vocation,” Silberman says. “We feel that by arming our young professionals with the information, tactics, and strategies they need to help further their careers is a distinct competitive advantage for us, and one that will bear considerable fruit as we groom the next generation of our company’s top producers.” (And good news for aspiring brokers: NAI Partners is looking to expand their team.)
About the tech they use
The technology they rely on happens to be Apto, because Jon’s team recognizes the value of a relational database. NAI Partners says that the names of companies and clients are commodities, but it’s the relationships their brokers have with these individuals that sets them apart.
Apto gives them a fully transparent and shared database of companies and contacts, which paints a comprehensive picture of the firm’s relationship with any given individual a broker is reaching out to. Brokers are able to keep a close eye on their interactions with the contacts and companies, so they know the true standing of the relationship at any given time.
As Griff Bandy notes, “If I want to know what I’ve talked about with someone, I have one quick easy place to find the details.” Having all of this context for every relationship allows these junior employees to graduate from the role of traditional broker to trusted advisor fairly quickly.
Consistency across teams is key
And how do they ensure they continue to stay successful? It’s not just the new kids on the block that follow this model. Every team at NAI Partners has consistent expectations of how technology makes their brokers more competitive. All of the partners are leading their teams using technologies like Apto to proactively coach and train their brokers.
The firm has also invested in an in-house team that leads their technology and analytics. They empower brokers with technology and serve data up as insight that helps them win more business.
Jon says that, “The key to success is a consistent process and an organized system. I believe in the simple fact that you can’t possibly effectively manage a big enough base of prospects without an organized system. And that’s what Apto does for you.”
And it’s the adherence to that belief that has kept his team and others in the firm successful year after year. You need to be organized and use data intelligently so you can deliver the most professional experience to your clients, and NAI Partners has that down to a science.