This article was written for our sponsor, JLL.
In this day and age, it’s not enough to talk about something — you have to be about something. For commercial real estate firm JLL, it’s about focusing on who their clients are, first and foremost.
“We have a people-first, real-estate second mentality,” said Kimarie Ankenbrand, managing director and office lead for JLL Raleigh. “We want to know our clients and the business side of their business before we even get into a real estate conversation.”
Many companies promote a dedication to their customers, offering their services in exchange for business, loyalty and referrals. Commercial real estate, in particular, has a reputation for being transaction-focused and aggressive. However, JLL believes in embracing the human side of business because it makes them better at “delivering on the business side of business.”
This people-first attitude isn’t just a value that JLL holds dear, but is how they operate, Ankenbrand said.
“Many people think of real estate brokers as used car salesmen who are chasing fees,” Ankenbrand admitted. “That’s one of the biggest things we have to overcome — even as one of the largest firms in the world. Our approach in helping businesses craft real estate solutions that drive financial performance is getting to know them and their business before we even start talking about real estate.
She added, “It’s amazing to me how many initial meetings I’m a part of where a prospective client starts rattling off details about their rent and upcoming lease expiration. I tell them that we can discuss that in three conversations from now; today we don’t know enough about your business to even talk about real estate.”
JLL begins by getting to know the ins and outs of a client’s company — who they are, what they’re about, what the company culture is like, can they recruit and retain top talent, and what their strategic business goals are, both short and long-term. This lays the groundwork for the JLL team to identify holistic real estate solutions that could potentially be a good fit for their client — not just in terms of square footage, but from cultural, talent acquisition and brand standpoints as well.
A fast-growing tech startup, for instance, has much different needs than a medical device company with more than 500 employees. The JLL team takes the time to learn not only how many bodies will occupy a space, but what those people will be doing on a daily basis and how real estate can make their jobs more enjoyable and productive.
Chase Monroe, market director for JLL Carolinas, oversees all the JLL business lines in North and South Carolina, and also works on strategy and corporate solutions for office-based clientele. He said the “people-first” approach JLL champions applies not only to their clients, but also to JLL employees.
“Being a Fortune 300 company, it’s critical that we hire the best and the brightest, that we have integrity, that we hire people who have many different skills, and that we are able to produce the best results for our clients,” he said. “JLL is a full service real estate firm — there [are] very few of these across the country. We’re able to provide all the real estate solutions our clients need.”
JLL’s team helps clients make informed real estate decisions that benefit their company and their employees. From location specialists who understand the growth of cities, to brokers who can recommend how to make your real estate work harder for you, JLL employees work together like the pieces of a watch. They keep the business ticking, while showing their clients what’s up.
Additionally, Monroe said being a diverse team allows JLL to better connect with a diverse client base.
“JLL is a believer in and leader in the diversity of our teammates. Our team in Raleigh reflects that — we don’t just want diversity in gender, but also diversity in race and age too. It’s all critical to the success of our clients because companies are made up of diverse people,” Monroe said.
It’s no secret commercial real estate brokers are generally white males. Ankenbrand is deeply dedicated to diversifying this industry representation, starting at JLL.
“Diversity is probably my biggest passion. JLL is redefining what diversity means — it is gender, ethnicity, social and economic background, prior work experience, skillset, and more,” she said. “At the end of the day, we are a service provider, and our service is providing innovative and creative solutions to companies. The only way we’re going to be able to meet that objective is if we have diverse thought leadership in the room.”
Ankenbrand said the JLL approach is simple — work hard, make sure you do the right thing, trust inside your company, and then transfer all of that to your customers: a few wise words she learned 15 years ago when she started working for Roger Staubach.
“That really has been the DNA of our culture here — truly putting our clients’ and customers’ needs first, and building our business around their needs and wants,” she said.
This article was written for our sponsor, JLL.