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Ahead of the Curve: Bigger isn’t always better

Bigger isn't always better in the commercial real estate brokerage business


BCBusiness + William Wright Commercial

Credit: William Wright Commercial

After several weeks that locked down the province and restructured the future of the contemporary workplace, BC businesses are back, many of them stronger than ever. Commercial real estate—often the cornerstone of a business’s livelihood—will be a guiding light into the post-COVID era and a key indicator on who will adapt to the new normal and how. Enter William Wright Commercial, a boutique style commercial real estate firm with professionals in all asset classes and a recently launched property management division. With smaller offices in more locations—Vancouver, New Westminster, Langley and Victoria, for now—the company brings a localized, team-first approach, which goes against the grain of the traditional ‘every person for themselves’ commercial brokerage model.

“Ours is an industry where ‘everyone knows a broker,’ but the service level gets lost in that,” says Cory Wright, managing broker at William Wright Commercial, which is headquartered in Vancouver along the trendy Robson Street corridor. “In some cases, brokers almost feel entitled to inventory. Our approach is that clients are providing us with what could be their largest asset, and our job is to bring the expectation of service to a higher level and execute on the task at hand.”

Credit: William Wright Commercial

That means keeping operations streamlined, personal and agile. William Wright Commercial hires brokers in their respective markets who can bring their experience and local knowledge to the firm and speak the language of the people where they are located. “There is sometimes a disconnect between a broker in Vancouver and what a local market, Chilliwack for example, is doing,” Wright says. “Being able to offer local information is more important now more than ever.”

Every client is serviced accordingly because brokers have the flexibility to offer quick and more personal service, almost on a moment’s notice.

“One challenge in our industry is having the ability to show properties through the Lower Mainland from our Vancouver office,” Wright says. “One of our competitive advantages is having more boutique style offices throughout various markets, allowing our team to easily meet the showing requests of potential tenants and buyers more frequently than if we just had a large downtown office.”

William Wright’s recently launched a commercial property management division, which oversees properties across British Columbia. Clients have requested the service for years, but the team wanted to make sure the timing was right in order to maintain the same high level of service it offers through the company’s brokerage arm.

Credit: William Wright Commercial

“It has been a very successful launch, and into the post-COVID era, a lot of landlords have realized property management is a challenging job,” Wright says. “We are currently focused on building long-term relationships and reaching out to landlords who are taking us up on our offer for assistance.”

Luckily, if there is any marketplace that can take a hit, it’s Vancouver, Wright says. In Greater Vancouver, some commercial asset classes have the lowest vacancy rate in Canada and in some cases, in North America. “An increase in inventory will create a more balanced market for some asset classes, which isn’t always a bad thing,” Wright adds. “Although our industry could look different coming out of this crisis, our marketplace will stabilize.”

The company has an eye on expansions in Kelowna, Nanaimo and Kamloops, and is prepared to stay nimble as the shape of the ‘new workplace normal’ materializes.

For example, businesses across BC have implemented technology and behavioural practices that allowed a work from home model—one that many are saying could continue in some form and that could have an effect on the commercial real estate market.

Credit: William Wright Commercial

Agility and adaptability will be key in adjusting, says Wright. “It is hard to predict how the novelty of working from home will be a few months from now because it is forced on us at the moment,” he says. “There is still an office culture that exists and that proliferates productivity. In every past crisis, from the .com bubble bursting to the September 11 attack and the financial melt down in 08/09, people said the traditional office would disappear, yet as we can see, it has only gotten stronger over the past 20 years.”

William Wright Commercial was founded in 2013 out of 200 square feet in Yaletown, with the primary goal of pushing the boundaries of customer service in the industry. If anything has become clear over the past weeks, it is that the company has the will, the team and the model to successfully stay the course.

“As we enter the post-COVID era we expect to come out stronger than ever,” Wright says. “Our business was where we felt the industry was going in the coming years, and this pandemic accelerates that change within our industry, which will propel our expansion in the coming years.”

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Created by BCBusiness in partnership with William Wright Commercial