FLORHAM PARK, NJ-“If my brokers attended each and every open house that’s out there, that’s all they would have the time to do.” So says Colliers International EVP Robert Martie about the plethora of asset promotions taking place.
The raft of open houses is endemic of a market saddled with “more vacancies than any landlord would want to see,” says Martie, who heads Colliers’ New Jersey operations from his Parsippany base. The challenge for owners becomes how to draw brokers, who Martie describes as every owner’s “off-balance sheet sales force,” to notice their buildings?
Open houses “get to be run-of-the-mill,” agrees owner Michael Bergman, president and CEO of the locally based Bergman Real Estate Group. “We wanted to take it to a different level. There’s a lot of space out there, and you need to separate yourself.”
That need was clear. Bergman explains that his 226,000-square-foot Florham Park Corporate Center had just sustained a rather large hit with the exit of a large tenant, and he wanted that space filled. Turning a negative into a positive, Bergman says he now could offer, “a contiguous 60,000-square-foot opportunity” to the right tenant. And the race was on.
Colliers, the exclusive agent for the center, and Bergman put their heads together to create an overall marketing plan that would fit the status of the class A, two-building asset and play up its unique characteristics. Prime among them was its proximity to the football Jets training facility and the buzz created around the coming Super Bowl XLVIII, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. The February 2, 2014, event will be the first ever held in New Jersey.
This wouldn’t be Bergman’s first time at the rodeo, or rather, stadium. A previous marketing campaign had centered on the 2008 Summer Olympics. Dubbed the Bergman Pentathalon, the event promoted five of the firm’s 15 New Jersey buildings (it also has assets in Columbus, OH) and played off the five rings of the Olympic logo.
It was followed the year after with a similar promotion for the ’09 winter games. Appropriately, the grand prize for the broker landing the biggest tenant was a trip to Greece. (The broker landed a 37,000-square-foot deal, but opted to take the winnings in cash.)
The Bergman Broker Bowl, focused on the Florham Park Asset, extends to January 15. Launched earlier this month, the campaign was two months in the planning stage and, depending on what prizes are awarded, it will cost between $80,000 and $100,000.
But the upside will be worth every penny. A highlight of the campaign was a tailgate party—essentially an open house cranked up to new levels—designed to put the property into the proper light for Bergman’s “off-balance sheet sales force.”
In the catered event, described by Bergman as a class-A affair, brokers would be able to tour recent upgrades to the property and chat with the Colliers leasing team of Bryn Cinque and James Bailey. But the highlight was special guest and NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson.
But the campaign incentives didn’t stop at the tailgate and the chance to shake hands with an NFL super star. In a series of prizes that carry such names as MVP Super Award and Touchdown Reward, Bergman is offering such incentives as a 60-inch flat screen to the broker who signs between 10,000 and 19,999 feet and a bonus commission of $1 per square foot for whoever signs a five-year lease. The grand prize—to anyone who signs a five-year lease or multiple leases for 20,000 feet or more, is two VIP tickets to the Super Bowl game.
The campaign has just launched, and it is still too early to confirm the ultimate goal . . . securing tenants. But based on the turnout for the tailgate party, the future is looking pretty bright. And to that extent alone, in terms of what an open house is supposed to do, the campaign has been a success. As Martie asks, “How do I go about getting as many brokers in to see my building as I possibly can?”
Bergman reports more than 60 brokers were in attendance that night.