Be Better Prepared, Look Better Prepared

By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine

RMag_At_MidYear1Sam Foster is a well-prepared real estate professional. But what he likes even more than being well prepared is looking well prepared to his clients.

An executive vice president with Jones Lang LaSalle in Los Angeles, with more than 30 years in the real estate business, Foster’s secret weapon is his 11-page statement of requirement questionnaire.

Yes, 11 pages might sound intimidating, but for Foster it never fails at identifying his clients’ location needs.

Industrial real estate is Foster’s specialty, thus, his questionnaire covers such issues as number of docks and clearance space required, etc. But he also asks questions such as: What kind of hotels do you need nearby? How oven do you make trips to the post office? Do you want a large, impressive lobby that will wow your clients? How are you going to grow?

“They have to think through these issues,” Foster said during his presentation at the Commercial Leadership Forum during the Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. today. “You have to have that conversation.”

His clients know at the beginning of their relationship that he requires a one-hour face-to-face meeting. It’s at this meeting that he literally reads through the questionnaire with them, walking them through the checklist process – this often gets clients to think about important questions they may have overlooked initially.

The key is tailoring this document to meet your needs as a real estate pro, said Foster, and you’re number one need is to understand your clients’ needs.

So what does Foster do with the 11 pages of answers?

He boils the clients’ stated requirements down to a two-page summary that shows he was listening. “Starting with a situation analysis, and a summary of the assignment as I understand it, helps before I go out in the marketplace and try to find this building,” said Foster.

In addition, Foster also outlines a time-line for his clients, which includes their initial engagement, site selection period, space planning, and construction/improvements. “I find it more useful as a sales tool than an actual implementation tool because I want them to know I’m thinking of how to get them there,” Foster said.

Erica Christoffer

Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at

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