Bill White Interview – Commercial Real Estate (Tenant Rep)

Bill White Interview – Commercial Real Estate (Tenant Rep)


(dramatic music) – All right, Tim Santoni here. Today we’re profiling Bill
White, White Space Advisors. Bill, thanks for joining us today. – My pleasure, thank you Tim. – Glad to have you. Tell us a little about
yourself and your company. – Well okay, again, Bill
White, White Space Advisors. White Space is a commercial
real estate advisory firm. I specialize in representing
corporate office tenants in the marketplace for space. I do a lot of work with law firms, CPAs, advertising agencies, anybody who occupies a mid-rise,
high-rise office building, those are my clients. – Gotcha. And typically, what are
the top three mistakes you usually see clients or
perspective clients make when it comes to their
commercial real estate? – Top three, I would say
that the number one mistake people make is underestimating the cost of tenant improvements. A lot of tenants are offered what we call a tenant improvement
package from their landlord and it sounds like a lot of money. So a 10,000 square foot office, they might receive a $20
square foot allowance. $200,000 sounds like a lot of money and then when you get down the road, you realize it’s a lot
more and by that time they’ve already signed a
lease and it’s too late. So that’s a big one. Another big one is underestimating the value of having nice space. Employee engagement is a
big problem, or I should say disengagement is a big problem right now. And a big part of that is environment. And a lot of my clients really get that and some of my clients don’t and I have some clients that say, “Just give me the best possible deal, “and let me see how many
people I can get in the space.” And I have other clients who
say, “We really want a space “that’s going to work for our people.” People are the number one thing. That’s where it all
starts and that’s probably the number two mistake. Number three is just,
probably, glossing over some of the bigger items in the lease. Operating expenses for example is more than half of the rent
of an office building is wrapped up in operating expenses. And if you don’t negotiate
those, you’re missing out. – Gotcha, and I guess, there’s a lot of commercial real estate brokers
and reps in Orange County. So tell us a little bit
about, I guess the one thing you wish that clients knew
about hiring a tenant rep, or working with someone like yourself, someone that maybe hasn’t worked with someone like you before, one thing that they should know. – Well what they should know
is that the conflict is real. And I know that’s kind of a joke, the struggle is real but
the conflict of interest when working with a broker who has landlord representation
relationships is real. And it was the reason
I started my company. I was with Colliers
International, a great company, and it’s a company that specializes in representing tenants and landlords. And I was representing
Nationwide Insurance up in El Segundo and Nationwide
was renewing their lease. Grubb & Ellis was the listing
broker on the building, I didn’t think I had a conflict, and low and behold, the owner of the El Segundo building also owned a building in Los Angeles that was represented by Colliers. And I received a call from one of our senior managers
telling me to back off. And I realized then that
the only way I could truly represent tenants was to
be either at a company that had no landlord representation or starting my own company. So that’s probably the thing that I wish people would really understand
is that this whole tenant representation thing that
I always preach, it’s real. And the reality is you never
know what you potentially missed out on because everyone
thinks they got a good deal. – Right, right that’s a good point. So tell us a little bit about why you got started in real estate. That’s a great client story as to why you went on your own and
you tend to represent obviously, good tenants,
for that conflict reason. But why did you choose the
commercial real estate field and how did you get started,
why was that a passion for you? – Well it started when I was in college and I needed to burn some electives and someone suggested I take real estate. I was one of these guys who,
a little strange in college, I wore slacks, sport coat, dress shoes. And one of my professors in
real estate finance class he asked me one day what
I had planned on doing and I said, “I don’t know.” And he said, “You should check
out commercial real estate.” And I thought, OK, so
that was really about it. This was 1990, no, this was
1991, I couldn’t google it, I went to the Yellow Pages,
and I started looking at commercial real estate companies. I called all of ’em, I
had interviews with CB, which then was Coldwell
Banker, Grubb & Ellis, Cushman Wakefield and the Sealy Company. And the Sealy Company was
the one firm that was willing to put me in working
with the other brokers from the very beginning and
I took the job with them, and the manager that hired me is still a good friend, and the rest is history. So you’re one of those
people that went to school, figured out what you’re
going to do in school and actually did that from the get-go. – I actually worked at the Sealy Company while I was in school, I worked kind of Monday,
Wednesday, Friday. Just ran odd errands and odd
jobs, and actually the reason I ended up doing office
tenant representation was, the gentlemen that I ultimately
was, that trained me, it’s kinda more like a mentor
or, what do you call it? – Apprenticeship.
– Apprenticeship. We call it a runnership in the business, but the guy that I ran for, the
reason I got into tenant rep was I used to go to the bank
for him and deposit his checks. And I realized I’d like
to be in this business. – You saw the numbers. – I saw the numbers. – First hand.
– First hand. – Awesome. So for those people maybe that
are getting into the industry or been in there a while, obviously you have a successful
practice, maybe give us maybe a couple ideas on things you’ve tried to grow your practice as you got started on your own, and over the years as things
have changed in the market, and some strategies for growth. – Well one of the things that I would tell people who are getting into the business, is you never can stop prospecting. People don’t like to hear
it, but the reality is you always have to be
looking for new business because things happen, you know. I’ve had clients that
I’ve had for a long time and then, say a CFO leaves, retires, new CFO comes in, or a
company gets acquired, they have an existing relationship. You always have to be
looking for new business. As far as growing the practice,
when I started the company, I really wanted to be
a solo for a long time, I decided to be a solo. And for many reasons, more than we can get into on this interview,
I have now seen the light. And I have decided to bring people on. As far as growing the practice,
prospecting, networking, and really being the person in the marketplace that attracts people. It’s hard to find people,
there’s no doubt about it, but if you’re in the marketplace, you have a good reputation,
you operate with integrity, people will want to work with you. So I would say that would be one of– – So Bill, give me an example of one of your favorite client success stories and you know, tell me a
little bit about that client. – Sure, client that I was just
visiting earlier in the week, United Collective, was
an advertising agency in Huntington Beach. I started with them when
they only had four people. It was the founder, and his cousin and then two other employees and we moved them from an
executive suite actually, where they had one office,
into a 3,000 square feet in Long Beach and they grew from there into 12,000 square feet in Long Beach, and then ultimately, we moved
into a 42,000 square foot building in Huntington Beach, right across from the Huntington Beach Pier. What was unique and fun
about that assignment was that they placed a high
value on having great space. And the space we
ultimately ended up taking was a converted movie theater. Was the Mann 6 Theater at Huntington Beach right across from the pier. And we leveled the space, we actually had, it was stadium style, so
the floor wasn’t flat, and they leveled the
floors, punched in windows, put a mezzanine all the
way around the space, full size basketball court, batting cages, and locker rooms as
well as surfboard racks and bicycle racks for
all of the employees. So, you know, that’s one of those clients where they really place a
high value on the space, and on amenities for the employees. And that’s been an exciting relationship, I’ve been doing their
work for over ten years, and they’re really proud of
the work that they’ve done. – All right, so now we’re going to get into the lightening
round, so we’re gonna, these are the serious questions. – OK.
– All right, so coffee or tea? – Oh, coffee, too much, all day. – (chuckles) Cats or dogs? – Oh, dogs.
– Dogs all the way. – Favorite app? – Audible.
– Audible, gotcha. So along that lines, what’s the best book you’ve listened to on Audible
in the last 12 months? – 12 Rules for Life. – 12 Rules for Life. – Jordan Peter– – So when you’re not
consulting with your clients, what are you doing on the
weekends, family, what’s? – Family, I’ve got two boys,
been married for 25 years this September, and
I’ve got an 11 year old and a 17 year old, keep me very busy. We go to the beach, we hang out we just chill and watch movies on days that I’m not playing baseball. And on days that I do play baseball, that’s a big part of my Sunday. – Yep.
– So after church, 11 o’clock, head to the field, our games always start
at 1:30, home by 5:00 and then I recover from
that for a few days. – Awesome, well Bill,
thanks for joining us. We really appreciate you making the time to join the show.
– My pleasure. – And if you have any questions for Bill, leave ’em below in the comments. And we’ll talk soon, thanks bud. – Thank you.
– Awesome. (warm instrumental music)

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