recessionmode, the message delivered at NAIOP's New Jersey "TenantRetention In Trying Times" seminar was marked not by doom andgloom, but rather what can we do better.

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Panel moderator Bob Palestri, a partner with the PropertyInstitute, emphasized this point by noting that "there are notrying times, only those who chose to sit on the sidelines."He--along with panelists Glenn Buie of First Industrial RealtyTrust; John Marazzo of Mack-Cali Realty Corp.; Seena Stein ofNewmark Knight Frank; Michael Schofel of Eastman Co.; and AndrewZezas, SIOR, of Real Estate Strategies Corp.--then proceeded to layout a plan for keeping tenants in place, whether it be throughtenant surveys, selecting the proper employees or investing more intenant retention budgets.

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While many of the questions posed elicited a variety ofdifferent responses, the takeaway was communication. "Many of usdon't know who property managers are…they are not who we first dealwith," says Stein. "In this time of horror, it's important that weall hear and know what tenants want. We must maintain arelationship of trust. During the last economic downturn, tenantsremembered which brokers hurt them."

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Added Zezas, "Landlords will say they have a great relationshipwith tenants but ask who the CEO is and they usually don't know."For tenant retention to work, said Marazzo, "it has to come fromthe top. There was a well-known New York City real estate executivewho owned some great trophy properties in Manhattan, but behind hisdesk he had a sign that read, 'I am the lord in landlord, you arethe ant in tenant.' Unfortunately, that mentality will trickle downto the rest of your company."

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To Marazzo's point, one of the most talked about topics wasretaining quality employees. With cost-cutting on nearly everyone'smind, many panelists and attendees agreed that this is an idealtime to pick the proper staff members. "You really need to be apeople person, while also understanding the nuts and bolts," saidSchofel. "You need to encourage everyone on your team," addedMarazzo, who noted that the current property manager of 101 Hudsonin Jersey City began as an administrative assistant atMack-Cali.

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Driving most of this discussion was also the simply fact thattenant loss is a pricey one. According to Buie, the total lossesaccrued from a 10,000-square-foot tenant can creep as high as$250,000. "I know of a building in a different New Jersey countythat was vacant for 111 months," said Zezas. "It's scary when youthink about how expensive it is to lose a tenant. "Just think,"added Palestri, "what a difference you can make by putting an extra5 to 10 cents toward tenant retention."

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