By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Post 9/11, we live in an uncertain world. Among the terrorist attacks’ more tangible effects has been an across-the-board increase in commercial building insurance rates. Conning Corporation, which tracks insurance industry performance, reports that the average price of commercial insurance rose 18 percent in spring 2002, compared to only 10.3 percent in the spring of 2001. If you own commercial property, developing a terrorism risk management and reaction strategy is essential, not only to keep your tenants or employees safe, but to reduce your insurance rates as well. Insurers are more likely to give you a lower rate if you can demonstrate that you are prepared to respond should the unthinkable happen again.
Preparing for Terrorism: A Property Manager’s Guide (IREM Foundation, 2002; members $28, non-members, $40) can help you develop a plan to protect your staff, residents, and property against future attacks. An earlier book from the Institute of Real Estate Management, Before Disaster Strikes, showed how to develop emergency procedures for fires, earthquakes, and many other common risks. This companion piece focuses specifically on developing procedures for terrorist attacks, teaching you how to assess your exposure, understand the problems you may face, and respond to an attack.
The first half of the book focuses on responding to various types of attacks, including bomb threats and bombings, riots, biological weapons, and nuclear attacks, among others. Later chapters delve into developing building procedures; planning building recovery; and training staff, apartment residents, and commercial tenants to respond to attacks.
“Chapter 10: Building Security” recommends how to devise protective measures to make buildings safer. The book offers no one-size-fits-all security solution, but does suggest you consider factors such as aesthetics, building codes, cost, and operational constraints when planning security. The chapter also contains specific security tips for residents and commercial tenants.
Developing an emergency procedures plan that outlines how a property will respond to a crisis is a key step to protect staff, tenants, or residents, as well as the property itself. This should include an Emergency Management Team (or emergency response team) trained to react to disaster, take immediate action to assist occupants, and secure the property. Specific duties, such as conducting evaluations, coordinating with outside agencies, and providing first aid should be divided among members. Individuals should also be familiar with their teammates’ responsibilities, since injuries are likely to occur in a crisis situation, the book advises.
“Chapter 15: Creating the Emergency Procedure Manual” shows you how to create a manual to guide your team’s operations. According to the book, this manual should contain contact numbers for team members, management, building owner, and emergency assistance; floor plans and blueprints of the building, with mechanical shutoffs pinpointed; directions that instruct the emergency team on how to respond to different types of attacks; and instructions to educate for building occupants on emergency procedures and precautions.
Preparing for Terrorism also instructs readers on how to create a disaster recovery plan. According to the book, many companies have disaster recovery plans in place, however, few are prepared for weeks of disruptions, as occurred in the aftermaths of the World Trade Center Attacks. A recovery plan addresses three elements:
- People—Ensure that personnel are trained to implement your recovery strategy to ensure property and business continuity
- Property—Identify which elements of your building are likely to be damaged from specific types of incidents occur, which steps must be taken to repair or replace damaged elements, and what internal and external resources you will need for a recovery operation
- Business Continuity—Devise contingency plans on how your tenants’ business will operate if the building is partially or wholly destroyed.
Just because you aren’t located next door to a trophy building doesn’t mean you’re immune from the fallout of terrorist activity, the book points out. For instance, many buildings located within several blocks of Ground Zero were damaged in the World Trade Center attack. So no matter where you live or what size and type of property you manage, devising a plan to deal with disaster before it happens just makes sense—both to protect your tenants and employees and to show insurers that you’re committed to safety. The importance of preparation is the one certainty in the post-9/11 world; Preparing for Terrorism arms you with knowledge you can use to minimize risks to your property.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Popular lore suggests that public speaking trumps death, spiders, and other common phobias as the one thing that scares Americans the most. But if you have the gift of gab and don’t fear the spotlight, then public speaking can build your business, give you a secondary income source, and maybe even give you an exit strategy if you decide to leave full-time sales. Speak and Grow Rich (Prentis Hall Press, July 2002; $17.00), by Dottie and Lilly Walters, focuses on advice for readers wishing to pursue a professional speaking career. It also offers tips for those with more modest goals, such as feeling comfortable explaining the local real estate market to a group of business owners. The authors, both experienced public speakers, teach you everything from sources of material to marketing your name. The book doesn’t spend much time on vocal delivery, however.
If you’re just getting started in public speaking, “Chapter 4: From Fee to Shining Fee” guides you through how to solicit no-fee speaking engagements, then transition into the professional public speaking market. To begin, you can use events such as buyers’ or sellers’ seminars or speeches to local civic organizations to raise your profile and generate leads. Public speaking will also help you develop skills that make you a better salesperson— poise, confidence, and clarity.
If you feel that you have a knack for public speaking and want to pursue it further, the chapter suggests how to use these events to create opportunities for paid bookings, which can be as simple as having the person who introduces you mentioning you’ll be available after the show to talk to anybody who might want to book a speaker for a future event. (The authors suggest giving at least 50 to 100 no-fee speeches before charging for your services.) Future chapters cover the ins and outs of professional speaking, including topics such as booking speeches and working with agents.
“Chapter 5: Become the Expert and Leading Authority” shows you how to pull together resources to weave into a dazzling presentation. There is no shortcut to crafting a presentation that will captivate your audience. It requires not only familiarity with your topic, but a great deal of research as well. The authors suggest devouring every periodical, book, and online information source that you can find related to your topic. You should take advantage of information that you glean from certification classes, seminars, and trade shows.
It’s also critical to decide what aspects of a topic you think your audience will find most useful. For example, if your subject is real estate sales, you can draw inspiration from topics such as communication, personal relations, listening skills, and body language. However, the book warns against becoming a jack of all trades and master of none. It also important to distill this information into specific topics. For instance, you might want to focus not just on selling in general, but issues related to selling to Generation X customers.
No matter how great your content is, it won’t matter if no one shows up. And the more well- known you are, the more money you can make at public speaking. “Chapter 10: Becoming Famous” teaches you how raise your profile. One method is to make sure that you are consistent in reinforcing your name to attendees. Small details, such as making sure that your company name and contact information are printed on all of your worksheets and handouts help ensure that attendee don’t leave your presentation thinking, “What was her name?” The book also recommends offering an informational giveaway that they will receive if they contact you in the future. This opens the door for you to offer them more content and develop a relationship with them. Remember, this method is only as effective if participants actually perceive value in the materials you offer. It’s just like real estate; you won’t get very far making promises you can’t keep.
Chapter 10 also explains how to set yourself up as a media expert to increase your name recognition. The “Four Bes of Beneficial Media Relations” can help ensure that when local media need a real estate source that they’ll turn to you:
- Be an expert. Keep you name visible to local media outlets by sending press releases, notes, updates, e-mails and faxes two to three times a year.
- Be current. Watch stories that appear in the media, always asking yourself how you can tie in your expertise with top stories. For instance, if a refinancing boom is big news, then you might offer yourself as a source on refinancing do’s and don’ts.
- Be available. You wouldn’t leave your contact information with a customer and then not be available. Extend the same courtesy to your media contact.
- Be nice. Don’t pout if you get shut out of a story. Concentrate on making your contact want to help you at some point in the future.
You’ve already made a career out of working with people. Professional speaking offers you the chance to parlay your amazing charisma into a second income source. Speak and Grow Rich can help you pursue a life on stage, whether you want to pursue a professional speaking career or just find new real estate prospects in your market.