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As part of our ongoing focus on professions in the industry, this month we’re profiling BOMA members from various aspects of the commercial real estate industry. Each profile is tied to the feature article in the September issue of BOMA Calgary News in Business in Calgary magazine.
Today we’re speaking with Andy Baxter, Leasing Manager, REAL Properties
How did you get into commercial real estate?
In 1988, a relative introduced me to the Principals at a company called Dalex Real Estate Strategies – a small office leasing company that specialized in Tenant Representation.  Funnily enough, they had just been awarded the contract to perform one of the first BOMA Building guides and my first job was to actually gather the information for the data base.
What do you like most about your job? 
Corporate golf and an expense account! Just kidding! I have often felt that much of our industry is a bit of a continuum. For example, a property manager will spend some part of their day solving an HR problem, a tenant complaint or a supplier issue only to have similar difficulties arise the next day. I like the transaction side because we work on a file until it gets closed – most of the time to a positive conclusion. There is a satisfaction to working something to an ending. I read something once that said that a firefighter job is the most satisfying. They see the challenge – the fire – and they put it out.  I am not suggesting that leasing saves lives and property but, for me, I get a fulfilment in creating a file and working it to a conclusion.

What is a typical day for you? 
Can be different every day. Touring prospects, meeting the President of an Oil & Gas Company, negotiating lease changes with a lawyer, arranging space planning with a potential tenant, answering enquiries from agents about availability and economics of buildings, walking through vacant space with our Construction Manager to ensure vacancy is presentable, coordinating and distributing our marketing materials, spending time with my leasing team to ensure our work priorities are coordinated – oh, and lunch!
What are your top two challenges?
First, managing the expectations of tenants – especially new ones and, these days, sub-tenants.  Don’t get me wrong, the agents in town provide a key service, but often the incoming tenant has preconceived notions about pricing, construction scheduling, document timing and general move-in timetables that are quite ambitious and these assumptions have to be managed and, often, massaged.
The second challenge I am having right now, because I am getting old and I feel I got taught correctly, is the lack of basic professionalism of certain people (not all, by any means) in the industry.  For example, documents returned with no cover letter or explanation. Agents answering tenant questions on a tour when I am standing right there with the real answer. The almost flippant disregard for proper English in an offer and the lack of thought in thinking through lease start dates, construction schedules, early occupancy periods etc. The bottom line is that this lack of care can put themselves, their brokerage, their tenant and us, as the landlord, at considerable risk.

How do you see the future of your segment of the industry? How do you see it evolving?  
Great question…if I think back to my first days as a Landlord leasing Rep, the basic mechanics are the same. Good rapport with the agents, tour with a prospect, negotiate, put the tenant in. I don’t see this changing much. The tenant still has to touch and feel the building and the space, and the deal still has to be negotiated. Much of this can be facilitated electronically but, at the end of the day, good leasing people get the ball over the line with face to face skills. There was a point a few years ago when some experts were saying that social media would change the way our business is conducted but, as yet, I have not concluded a deal by tweeting it! I think the key for good leasing people is to communicate to asset and property managers what tenants are telling them, and leading discussions on services and amenities that managers should be offering for the leasing people to sell.
-Submitted on behalf of the BOMA Communications Committee