How did you become interested in commercial real estate?
Before I began my career at Crunkleton, I was working as a banker/financial advisor. One day, Wesley called me—I’d known him for a few years—and he asked me if I’d be interested in joining his team. I met with Richard and Wesley both to discuss the business. After a few days of thinking it over I decided to dive in, and here I am today.
What do you enjoy about your job at Crunkleton?
The process of negotiation is something I’ve always enjoyed. Whether it’s a lease or sale, helping two parties come to a mutually beneficial agreement is very rewarding. It’s not about putting a tenant into a space and just moving on to the next deal. It’s about looking at all of the facts, knowing what’s ahead, and determining where my clients will find the most long-term success. Landlords and tenants have to be on the same page and working together for everyone to be successful.
What challenges do you face on the job?
Allocating my time and resources so that each client gets due attention is something that takes effort. I have to constantly make sure that I am working efficiently and understanding what leads are worth pursuing. I also have to make the lease or sale process as smooth as possible. It’s all about using your time effectively and not chasing deals when there are signs on the front end that it won’t be beneficial for your client.
You specialize in retail brokerage, what does that entail?
In the retail sector of commercial real estate, you are dealing directly with shopping, dining, grocery, and much more. I work with a lot of developments that are anchored by grocery store chains like Kroger and Publix. Even the service tenants within the development—like hair salons and insurance businesses—are considered retail real estate. It’s my job to put together a successful tenant mix that allows both the landlord and business owners to be profitable.
Crunkleton has brokers that focus on specific types of commercial real estate to ensure we are experts in a particular area. It keeps us hyper-focused on a specific market.
What do you do to stay on top of your game?
For retail brokerage on a regional and national level, staying active in the community is important. Taking part in events like the ICSC Conference in Las Vegas every year allows me to stay informed about what’s going on with the state of retail. I use that time to connect with brokers and businesses outside of the Huntsville market and bring that expertise back with me to Crunkleton.
What value do you hope to bring to your clients?
When I’m working as a tenant representative, I want to find a place where my client will find long-term success. By understanding terms from both the tenant and landlord side, reviewing the area’s demographics, and knowing their future clientele, I am able to put them in the best position to be around their customer base.
I continually work to know tenants’ specific markets and review current trends so my clients are paying a fair rate. When working for the landlord, I make sure they are getting market rates for their property as well.
It’s also valuable to look to the future when making a deal. A certain location may seem like a good fit for now, but if things are happening there that would negatively affect business it’s my job to steer my client in the right direction. You can’t just think about today, you have to be looking to the horizon—two or three years down the road.
Why is Huntsville an ideal place to work in commercial real estate?
Our city is a rapidly growing market. Huntsville is getting more and more national retail chains interested in the area. We have a good, solid economy that weathers downturn better than a lot of places, and we have a community and local government that is supportive of bringing in new businesses.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in commercial real estate?
If you want to be successful as a broker, you have to be outgoing and remain confident even after you hear several rejections. If someone told me they wanted to enter into this career path, I’d tell them that it would be beneficial to work in property management first. Take a few years to understand the process from that side—learn what goes on after the lease is signed.
Being a property manager would help them understand what lease terms really mean and what’s important to the client moving forward. I also think it would help a future broker make the connections they need with tenants and landlords to build up their network and make positive relationships in the commercial real estate world.
I’d also suggest finding a team that you work well with once you get in the business. The success we have as individual brokers at Crunkleton stems from our work as a team. We are constantly bouncing ideas off each other and helping one another with a deal. We work at it together.
What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
I enjoy any time I get to spend outdoors. I also love to read and spend time with my family. I’m very thankful for the time I get with my nieces and nephews.
Shelby Smith has many busy days at Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate where she serves as Property Manager. From monitoring building operations to vendor negotiations and being a tenant liaison, property management requires a lot of organization and attention to detail.
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