Let’s shake on it

June 30, 2010

Remember when someone’s word meant something?

I can still recall the days when a simple firm handshake sealed a pact. No need for lawyers or pages of documents with footnotes to sign in quadruplicate.  You simply looked your potential partner in business squarely in the eye and moved forward in earnest and with best intentions.

So, what happened? Somewhere along the way, we stopped trusting each other.

Unfortunately, precedents of bad behavior set the tone for a bad business environment.  A litigious society, further, forces one into an often defensive stature where it is imperative to protect yourself against people who say one thing and do another. To be sure, even supposedly “fool-proof contracts” designed to avoid future disputes, are often not worth the paper they are written on.

Thankfully, it is not all “doom and gloom” and Gordon Gekkos

hellbent on stabbing you in the back in order to feed egos and fatten back pockets. In fact, in the wake of high-profile cases of corporate deceit (from Enron to JP Morgan), there has emerged a movement in the business world towards renewed honesty, integrity and transparency.

Portraying and maintaining a positive image and reputation are important again. (Just look at the NFL and the intangibles, beyond talent, that helped make Tim Tebow a first round draft pick).

Today, I still prefer the handshake to seal a deal and I continue to maintain many arrangements, in particular with colleagues, sans paper.  Who knows, maybe we are on the path to once again doing what we say we’re going to do as a rule and not an exception.


The Era of the great Operator

April 12, 2010

As I mentioned previously, finding a great operator is essential to enjoying success, regardless of economic realities. Operating, managing and leading multi-family real estate investments for 30 years, I’ve come to know a few things about keeping a great operation going.

Other real estate professionals from around the country, also feeling the real estate pinch, ask me how I survive in the real estate business in Michigan; what my secret is. My response? Overcome the war by winning the daily battles. Put another way: sweat the small stuff.

We are in the era of the great operator. The person or persons who run your operation(s) is much more important to your business than ever. Tech upgrades no longer help you stand apart. High-speed Internet, unless it’s Google Fiber,, cable TV, flat-screens – they’re everywhere. The customer experience and interaction, set by the operator, is once again the rarest and most unique of commodities. You distinguish yourself today through service, service, service, not bells and whistles and smoke and mirrors.

Everything else is truly secondary. A great operator can make a mediocre asset perform in outstanding fashion. On the flip side, a mediocre operator can ruin a great asset. At the end of the day, the battle is no longer between properties and amenities, it’s about the whos, whats, whens and hows of the operator, and the best operator/operation always wins.

At Dover Realty Advisors, we survive by doing what great operators do – rolling up our sleeves every day, going to work wanting to be the best, never resting on yesterday’s successes, knowing how and when to react, and understanding that change is sometimes necessary. I also work hard to find the right people and instill these same values in them. More on that next time.