Industrial Real Estate Representation – Franchise or Local Firm?0

Posted by Thomas Miller, CCIM

big-box-storeFranchises are everywhere – just look around. In commercial and industrial real estate, national franchised branches are especially numerous in all markets, and the Reno-Sparks market is no exception. To serve the local market, we also have locally owned and operated industrial real estate firms. And that means tenants, buyers and sellers of industrial real estate have a choice to make. If you’re leasing or buying, or on the hunt for a tenant or a buyer, you’ll have to ask yourself which is better – the local branch of a national franchise or a locally owned and operated firm? The best way to answer that question is by asking yourself a few more.

First, what are your transaction goals? This will bring you to the first major decision that a prospective tenant or buyer faces when the industrial real estate transaction process begins – which firm will be more attentive in listening to what I need and then responding appropriately to those needs? Will that have a bigger chance of happening with a locally owned and operated firm, or with a national branch?

Second, do your prospective firms tend to  represent landlords or tenants? If you want your agent to advocate solely for your interests – and you most certainly do – then you should seek a firm that won’t attempt to juggle your interests while also serving their other client – the landlord. While it is technically legal to serve both parties in one transaction, you have to be consider whether you are comfortable with that working relationship. And think it through carefully. Can an agent who gets the majority of his business representing a landlord  advocate just as strongly for your side of the transaction – against his main client? It seems doubtful.

Third, are you listening to your instincts? Let’s imagine you need advice about a gardening puzzle. Do you feel better served and more comfortable when you go into a locally owned/operated garden shop, where you can consult directly with the owners and long-time employees about your issue ? Or are you satisfied with quizzing whichever employee you can chase down in the garden section at the nearest big box store?

shop_localThe same logic applies to your real estate transaction. National franchises operate as high volume shops, while the smaller, local firms are lower volume and higher service providers. Which one makes you feel more comfortable?

Four, are you doing your homework? Conduct an online search for your industrial real estate needs. Search for a specific property or ask a question specific to your situation. Carefully review the websites that are served in response to your search terms, and then schedule a few meetings or phone calls with the ones that stand out. Then, ask specific questions about the local market. Agencies with their fingers on the pulse of their market will not only be able to answer you thoroughly, they’ll provide high-quality documentation to back it all up.

Depending on your situation, a high-volume franchise may be just fine. But don’t automatically assume that’s the case without checking out a few locally-owned industrial real estate firms first

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About the Author

Thomas Miller, CCIM

Thomas Miller, CCIM is the president and broker of Miller Industrial Properties in Reno, Nevada. He has worked in industrial real estate since 1991, with 15 years of previous experience designing and building industrial warehousing and manufacturing facilities in the northern Nevada market. Contact Tom at or 775-742-9891.

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