Sponsored by Century 21® Commercial
The iconic CENTURY 21® brand, already the “most recognized name in real estate” and the number one residential real estate company in brand awareness among U.S. home buying and selling consumers presented with a list of real estate agencies, is positioned to make significant inroads into becoming a commercial giant, too.
The 47-year-old company is one of the largest global organizations in residential real estate with approximately 127,000 relentless entrepreneurs in 9,400 independently owned and operated franchise offices working in 81 countries and territories. Looking ahead, the C21® brand is using its global market position to help its affiliated companies grow their businesses by adding to, or expanding, commercial real estate services. “At Century 21 Real Estate, our mission is to defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences and by expanding our commercial division and the number of practitioners, C21 brokerages can do a better job of serving clients who have needs outside of traditional home buying and selling,” says Randy Workman, senior director on the Business Momentum team at Century 21 Real Estate. Workman’s right and the numbers bear that out. The number of CENTURY 21 Commercial® affiliates has nearly tripled in the past five years. In total, the CENTURY 21 brand now boasts 630 domestic commercial offices in urban and suburban markets, as well as smaller tertiary markets around the country.
C21 agents have been fielding commercial real estate related requests from clients for more than three decades. To ensure that clients were being served by knowledgeable and experienced commercial agents, the company launched its Commercial Investment Network (CIN) designation in 2006 that puts transactional and educational criteria in place to qualify its C21 Commercial members. The growing CIN network also has become an important resource for C21 Commercial offices, as well as a recruiting tool for both clients and agents.
Brokers can tap into the CIN to ask questions, get business leads and even just bounce ideas off of other industry peers. “It’s a really powerful network,” says Ken Kujawa, CCIM, a broker-owner at CENTURY 21 Signature Realty based in Saginaw, Mich. For example, Kujawa had a property he was listing for sale that would be a great fit for a smaller grocer. He sent out a query on the CIN to see if anyone had a real estate contact for Aldi and received a response within minutes. “I use it to find contacts all the time for a national chain or a particular franchise unit developer,” adds Kujawa.
Strengthening CRE Expertise
Century 21 Real Estate is working to give C21 Commercial affiliates the tools to succeed with a strong brand, national network, technology and education. “Corporate is always looking for ways to help us grow, whether that is a resource to help us work smarter and more efficiently or with leads, including looking for opportunities to put us in front of corporate clients,” says Kujawa.
Education and learning are an important focus for Century 21 Real Estate as the company continues to expand its commercial real estate platform. Eighteen months ago, the firm created its own C21 Advanced Commercial Advisor designation for agents that includes 42 hours of educational courses. The educational component also helps to recruit and retain commercial real estate talent for the C21 offices, adds Workman. “There are not very many brands out there that do that at no cost,” he says.
Since the C21 Advanced Commercial Advisor designation was introduced, more than 1,400 people have either completed or are in the process of taking the courses. C21 Commercial also has succeeded in attracting veteran commercial brokers to the brand. For example, Heather Konopka, CCIM joined the CENTURY 21 Mike Bowman Inc. office in Grapevine, Texas in January 2018 to help grow the firm’s Commercial Division.
Over the course of her 23-year career in the real estate industry, including the last 12 as a licensed commercial real estate broker, Konopka has worked in a variety of settings, including working for a large CRE firm, hanging out her own shingle as an independent broker and owning her own franchise business. “I think being affiliated with a large company is so beneficial to get leads and to utilize the national presence versus being the lone wolf out on your own,” says Konopka, vice president of the C21 Commercial Division and a broker associate at CENTURY 21 Mike Bowman, Inc..
Leveraging Brand Strength
Like many industries, real estate is seeing rapid change with innovative new technologies. One of the ways that the C21 brand provides added value to its members is by doing some of the heavy lifting when it comes to researching and vetting new technologies, as well as leveraging its bargaining power to negotiate discounted rates on many of those products and services for its member offices. The C21 brand also provides ongoing education on those technologies through monthly webinars.
For example, within the past year Century 21 Real Estate has partnered with cutting edge solutions such as ClientLook and TheAnalyst Pro to offer new technologies to its members at discounted rates. ClientLook is a CRM system, while TheAnalyst PRO software platform performs a variety of key functions ranging from creating offering memorandums to conducting an investment or location analysis (both systems are integrated for seamless data availability). “Having all of those systems are great and corporate is putting more and more tools in place,” says Konopka.
Looking ahead to 2019, C21 Commercial is poised for even more growth. Century 21 Real Estate currently has about 400 offices that are in various stages of earning their commercial designation. In addition, the CENTURY 21 brand is in the process of merging its network of commercial affiliates in Canada and the U.S. to create one large North American network, which is expected to take place in early 2019.