Guiding Principles for Weathering a Downturn From Lincoln Property Company
In my 25 years in the Arizona commercial real estate industry, and the past 10 managing the Phoenix office of Lincoln Property Company (LPC), I’ve seen a tremendous amount of change. But, the levels in which that change occurred over the past three years are unsurpassed, and one that everyone in the Valley will remember for a long time to come.
Market highs and lows are a part of the game. How one weathers the storm and emerges from a downturn is the true test of endurance for a company. With the proper game plan in place, it is possible to survive a downturn and come out on the other side as a stronger, healthier and more opportunistic organization.
Lincoln Property Company has been able to do just that. Our business model is shaped like a three-legged stool focused on several core areas: Development, Acquisitions and Services. As we implement our strategy, I attribute our success to principles that could be applied to any business: agility, focus and execution. We are constantly assessing the market and shifting our focus to the leg that is most appropriate for the current business climate and demand.
How did we survive? By realigning our priorities from development to acquisition and services, it allowed Lincoln Property Company to stay one step ahead of the marketplace. Several years ago, we developed large projects when there was demand. When that demand dried up, we switched to acquisitions. During the downturn, when properties were changing ownership and going to special servicers, Lincoln Property Company began offering receivership services. Although receivership was new to Lincoln Property Company’s Valley service offering, it was certainly not new to LPC. By adjusting our service offerings (which also includes asset and property management, construction management and leasing management), we were able to grow our business. If we had been solely a developer, it might have been a different story.
Another important element is our dedication to execution. We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the fundamentals over the years. We look at each asset in our portfolio and make sure the building is being managed and improved in the right way. And we constantly ask ourselves “How can we outperform the leasing market on this asset?”
There is a lesson in our ability to stay agile, execute and seize oncoming opportunities.
I believe it’s not about changing your business, but changing your focus.
Additionally, we took a cautious approach to our staffing requirements during the downturn. Too often, we see companies cutting too deep into the bones of an organization during tough times. If you cut too deep, you won’t have seasoned employees in place to capitalize on opportunities as quickly. With the right core talent on board, you can be proactive and win when deals come along.
We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the market is showing positive signs of momentum, but not to the level we had for a long time. Use this time wisely, to fine tune your business processes and strategies. You will be ready when the next big deal comes along.