If ghosts and goblins don’t get your heart thumping, these CRE stories will. We reached out to brokers across the country to ask about the one time in their careers that things went horribly wrong. And they responded with truly terrifying tales sure to give you chills…or at least a good chuckle!
Read on for the best of our CRE horror stories, and leave your own in the comments!
Early in my career I learned not to schedule pitches for new business at 11am. My partner and I sat down to pitch a company. During a pause in the discussion, my partner's stomach growled so loudly that it was unmissable. It sounded like a sea-lion caught in a snare.
He tried to suppress a smirk, which sent me into a complete outbreak of uncontrollable laughter. We couldn't recover and the executive that we were pitching was not as amused as we were. We did not get hired. Don't pitch just before lunch.
Tale of the Phantom Printouts
I was still fairly new in the firm and had been asked to co-broker a big deal with a senior. Investment deal, suburban office property, 20+ million dollar value. I felt as though I had just been bestowed the greatest living honor there could be, and thought: ‘This is it, I’m the REAL DEAL.’ I was fully consumed by this deal and completely stressed for an entire year, if not two. During the marketing campaign, I’m following up with the prospective purchasers who executed non-disclosure agreements and do my best to get them to the next stage: offers. While I'm doing my calls, I offer to visit one of the prospective purchasers to give them an in-person presentation, and they accept.
Two days later, I’m getting ready for my appointment, printing the CIMs and gathering any relevant props that I think of. Start looking for my senior, end up calling him; he can’t make it. I have to go in alone. Not a problem, I think to myself. After all, I’m the real deal, right?
So I get to the client’s office fully pumped, settle in the conference room, prepare the CIMs and other documentation on the table, neatly placed at each seat. Everything looks sharp.
In comes the CEO and his right-hand guy, I excuse my senior for not being able to make it, engage in some small talk and then get right to it. I start my spiel: the enviable location, exceptional amenities, incredible frontage on the highway, unique signage opportunity, etc. I’m making eye contact, I’m not touching the CIM that much: after all, I practiced what I was going to say, I didn’t really need it!
Clients being clients, they start going through the pages of the CIM. And as they are doing so, I see their faces change. Something’s wrong. So I keep talking, open my book up and as I’m directing them to the fact sheet, I realize that I printed and brought along the wrong CIMs to the meeting.
Still going on with my spiel, my mind starts racing at 100 miles per hour telling myself to hide those wrong CIMs.
Never stopping my speech, and smiling, I reach across the boardroom table, take the books out of my clients’ hands, close them, make a neat pile with all three of them, reach for my bag on the floor, shove them back inside, and rest my bag beside me. I pretended that nothing happened and finished my 30 minutes presentation with nothing but myself. Never felt so stupid."
When Words Come Back to Haunt You
This was back when email started getting used more. I had a client who owned a large industrial complex, and I was the leasing broker for the complex. I believe he was a busy man and I was a young broker who loved this new email thing, but had yet to master it and learn how bad it could be.
We had talked numerous times through phone, email, and the like on the pricing. I believe he was so busy that he would forget that we had already talked about this many times and he kept coming back asking me about pricing.
This one day, it was via email. Well, I received his email and was so aggravated over him asking the same question and me continuing to answer it, that I decided to forward this to another broker in the office and used the word “idiot” in my message that was being “forwarded” to this other broker. Well, apparently back then, the forward button and the reply button looked very much the same. Needless to say, I lost that client forever due to my stupid mistake.
Most would say the mistake was that I replied and did not forward. I know that the true mistake was getting aggravated at all with the client and not taking into consideration that there was probably a reason for the miscommunication and I needed to talk to him on the phone, rather than emailing. Lesson learned.
I tell that story to all of my brokers in the hope of them not repeating my mistake. We, as a brokerage community, use email and text way too much. They are the two worst forms of communication, so why do we communicate so heavily with the people who provide our way of living so much this way? Nothing beats a personal phone call and/or meeting. In my 20 years, this is still the worst mistake I have ever made.