Custom Real Estate Database Case Study: Cresa

Ascendix Technologies helped Cresa New York to migrate to a custom version of Salesforce and customize it to meet their commercial real estate needs. Now Cresa New York uses two our products – AscendixRE and Ascendix Search and we keep supporting their CRM needs.

Background

Robert Sattler is the Principal at Cresa’s New York office. He provides strategic real estate advisory services and assists clients with lease restructuring, incentive negotiations, site selection, portfolio analysis, and project management.

Robert’s transaction history comprises a broad range of industries including technology, media, financial, legal, creative, insurance, healthcare, life sciences, not-for-profit, government, and education.

Cresa is an occupier-centric commercial real estate company. Their mission is to be the best advisor that brings the greatest to the occupiers and apply integrated expertise to make their business better.

It is the largest commercial real estate firm in the world that specializes in representing tenants and occupiers of space.

Cresa has been successfully operating since 1993 and for four years the company has been using AscendixRE and for 18 months Ascendix Search.

Robert Sattler
Principal, Cresa New York
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Location
Washington, DC, USA
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Industry
Commercial Real Estate
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Number of Employees
1, 000

We really wanted to build a database that could be ours and customize it to have the fields that we wanted to see. We did not want to use an off-the-shelf solution. We had used other databases in the past and we were looking for something that was real estate specific. We went through a vetting process. And AscendixRE gave us the best features and the way Ascendix worked with us was just helpful. And that’s kind of set Ascendix apart from the other companies that we looked at.

Robert Sattler, Principal, Cresa New York
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Ascendix: What functions were lacking in the original Salesforce CRM that you decided to use AscendixRE?

Robert: We wanted to be able to own our data. We have some corporate protocols where data, that is untouched for a certain period, gets unassigned from you. We wanted to have a database where our personal items did not disappear. That is why we went out and got AscendixRE.

Ascendix: How long have you been using Ascendix products?

Robert: We are using AscendixRE for around four years and I am pretty sure we rolled out Ascendix Search when it first came out.

One of my partners uses it more efficiently and on a more consistent basis than I do. But we have been using it from the start, and we found that extremely helpful.

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Ascendix: Why did you choose Ascendix Technologies among companies?

Robert: It was really the team. They were really hands-on. At that stage, Wes and Chris were really involved, and they were just very helpful. They helped us move things from Excel spreadsheets and CSV files. We felt comfortable that Ascendix would not disappear when we needed the help. They really worked with us to get everything over as consistently as we possibly could.

What is one of the ways Ascendix impressed you?

Robert: In one of our early conversations, we discussed that the world is becoming a “big data world” and those who do the best job of collecting, organizing, and utilizing data will achieve the highest levels of success.

Ascendix made it clear that with their solution I could build a database that would help advance my career and give me a competitive advantage.

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Smooth Data Importation

Robert: I remember I was thinking that we would probably have 50% success with our data imports, but we got it to 85-95%, so everything is converted over.

And it was really because of the Ascendix team and that is why we decided to go with it. We just felt like they were very hands-on and if we needed something, we could just pick up the phone and call them.

On one of our first calls, Wes Snow stated that we should shoot for a much higher rate than that if we follow a methodical process, perhaps approaching 100% accuracy.

My first thought based on previous experience was this not going to happen. Then Wes said, “we can definitely do better than 75%.”  In the end, we achieved much closer to 95% data accuracy.

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To give you some insight on what we imported, I imported every property in my market over 100,000 square feet, over 2,500 lease comps, another 1,000 accounts & associated contacts. Overall it was about 8,000 records.

Ascendix set clear expectations for the capabilities of xRE Foundations the on-boarding process and it was extraordinary from the beginning.  They carried me through all the way to the back-end. They have a process that made it pretty easy.

During the process, I thought I can’t believe I’m going back to review excel sheets again, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t that difficult as they did a great job of communicating the benefit to be gained in the end which served as ample motivation.  And even better, xRE Foundations was exactly what I wanted it to look like and everything was where it was supposed to be.

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I can’t stress enough the importance of taking time to prepare the data to assure the usability of the tool for you and your future team. This investment of time was key if I wanted to build the best database in my market. I truly believe a database that is highly organized with my market intelligence will lead to more deals.

If you want to have a quality dataset that is better than the competition it is something that you have to spend your personal time on upfront, then your data will be streamlined in the future.

A quick tip to expedite the process; create a master spreadsheet to organize all of your data into one source file giving you the ability to not only identify duplicates faster but to establish links between record types such as companies and leases.

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Can you give your review of our AscendixRE Foundations solution built on Salesforce.com?

Robert: I was reviewing your competitors’ solutions, but what I like most about Ascendix was the relational aspect of the data and the high touch of their team throughout the process.

It is easy to use and getting the information in was made easy by your team. I liked that you were upfront about the data migration process.

Ascendix told me that they would help me through the process, but if I put in a little work on my side making sure the data was clean and complete I would benefit even more, and I have.

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The support team was great from start to finish. For example, I had a few basic questions one evening and I called the Ascendix client success team. I didn’t even leave a voicemail because I thought it could wait till the next day.

The rep I had been working with saw that she missed my call and immediately called back and said, “I’m in the car and I’m on my way home, but I saw I just missed your call and wanted to see how I could help.” On that call, she was able to quickly walk me though a few minor details.  It was nice that she was so attentive to something that could have waited till the next day.

The whole team has gone above and beyond to make sure the system is working for me.  Especially during the first 2 weeks in making sure that everything looked the way I wanted and, more importantly, functioned the way I wanted.

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Ascendix: How does Ascendix Search differentiate from a General Salesforce Search? What was lacking at that time for you in General Salesforce Search?

Robert: I think you had just customized it a little bit better. And again, it was more specific to what we were doing on a commercial real estate level than Salesforce. Our problem with Salesforce was that it was an off-the-shelf version.
And there were so many features like convolution and the Ascendix Search feature seemed easier to use. We were able to pull the information that we wanted to see quicker and easier.

Ascendix: What is the most useful feature in Ascendix Search app for you?

Robert: The save search features for me because usually, we build a list of prospects at a certain period. And we want to reach out to them on a consistent basis by building that save search feature to just go right back into that.

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The Payoff

3 Hours a Week are Saved

Robert: In the short time of me using AscendixRE Foundations it has been a big time saver. It’s also easy to run reports and especially to pull my comps.

I’m quickly learning that in the click of a few buttons I can get everything I need for a meeting, then get it over to my team to prep for the presentation.

I can now focus on preparing for the deal instead of wasting time combining excel sheets and creating reports from scratch.

In addition to making more informed decisions with the organization of the data, I would guess I’m saving about 3 hours a week and a lot can get done in 3 hours!

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MarketSpace Listing Portal Case Study | Ascendix

Ascendix: Did Ascendix Search help to make your work more productive?

Robert: I think the more you use it, the easier it becomes. At first, it can be a little bit overwhelming, but it is about just spending time on technology and learning it. I still feel like I can know it a lot better.

Ascendix: Considering your experience with the data readjustment, are you going to continue with further digital optimization in your company?

Robert: Yeah, many features come out, and even whether it is Salesforce as a whole or AscendixRE or Ascendix Search, we will add additional features as we see fit. It is a matter of not trying to overcomplicate it. I do not see why we would not look to add features that will be more beneficial to business development efforts.

MarketSpace Listing Portal Case Study | Ascendix
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Cresa’s Expert Advice

Ascendix: What would you advise people who are searching for an advanced search app for Salesforce, what should they pay their attention to?

Robert: They should look for a company that has good customer support because most likely you’re going to have questions and need help and you want to be able to get answers quickly.

Regardless of whether they are a help desk or individuals, you may need to pick up the phone and call them and walk through something.

It is something that you should consider because unless you are super tech-savvy, you are going to have questions.

And you do not have to have a half-hour or an hour of frustration trying to figure something out.

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Key Takeaway

The lesson that can be learned from this customer story, that ready-made CRM solutions can be a good option but not for all companies. To scale up your business and to stick to your business values your organization may require custom-made and industry-oriented software.

The right choice of the CRM customization provider can help you to:

  • adapt your CRM exactly to your company needs,
  • gain absolute control over your database,
  • admin it seamlessly,
  • automate it to the full extent.
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Moreover, besides CRM optimization and adaptation you need to make sure that your CRM development provider can guarantee you training of your team and support in case you have any questions or problems. This will ensure that the whole CRM implementation process will go fast and smoothly both for you, your team, and your budget.

In the end, the full cycle of CRM customization and learning process will be paid off in saving more time and, consequently, money for business development and strategy elaboration.

If you have a vision of your perfect CRM system and have a list of ideas that you want to bring into your software to make it more productive, search for a technology partner with CRM customization and consultation expertise.

Watch the video presenting CRM consulting services and products offered by Ascendix Technologies specifically for the CRE industry.

Speak to one of our CRM consultants

Let's talk about your project and we will definitely find you the perfect CRM software solution that will bring you closer to dazzling business success.

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Learn More About Cresa and Robert

What is Cresa’s history and company size?

Robert: We are the largest commercial real estate firm in the world that specializes in representing tenants and occupiers of space. We have about a thousand employees. We were established in 1993, so we are on 27 years.

What are Cresa’s business values and the main focus?

Robert: I guess the main thing is doing the right thing by our clients. We focus on partnering with our clients to build real estate strategies that align with the overall business objectives of the company. We take an approach that using real estate proactively to work hand in hand with overall business objectives that will set you apart from some of your competitors.

As we find a lot of companies, especially fast-growing companies, and that being very reactive and set up proactive when analyzing real estate. So, the focus is to be more proactive, not reactive.

What is your job position in Cresa?

Robert: I am one of the principals that are in the New York City office. And being a principal, I have many job functions. So first and foremost, my job is business development, bringing in business for myself to work on, my team to work on as well as other members of the office.

Second, it is transacting deals. Real estate has a three-part process. First, it is bringing in the clients, then it is transacting the deal and closing the deal. So, 50% of my time is spent developing business and 30 to 40% of my time is transacting business.
And then the remaining 10% is spent on helping to grow the office, whether that’s training new hires, recruiting, working on items on a corporate level, and how we can better serve our market and grow our office more efficiently.

Also, we meet with other partners and the managing partners, probably on a quarterly basis, to just talk about how we could be doing things differently and better and how we can better establish ourselves in the market.

What are the most challenging aspects of your business?

Robert: I would say the hardest part of our business is to always stay in a business developing mind and focus. We do long-term transactions that usually take a while from an initial meeting to conception. We are always going out there and finding new businesses to work on and cultivating relationships that will further your network and enable you to get into more opportunities.

How do you cope with these challenges? What do you do to prosper?

Robert: It is really a mindset. Knowing that this is a business that we are in and trying to keep me on a routine. This development weighs itself as something that I am working on the most. It is easy to get focused on working on deals, but you really need to have time set aside to make sure that you have time for business development. Which I am not always great at, but I try to be the best that I can at it.

What are your expectations about market changes after COVID-19 pandemic?

Robert: From an optimistic side, I think there is going to be a lot of opportunity in the commercial real estate world. Because everything you are reading is people that are going to rethink their space and how they work in their space today, whether it is less dense.

As the trend over the last couple of years was to put more people into less space. I think that might change. I am looking forward to an opportunity to get in front of new prospects to talk about what we do and building a workplace strategy that has both short-term and long-term effects in your company. I definitely think there are going to be changes in the workplace.

Prior to this, the best prospects and the best meetings I went on with those progressive thinking companies that were allowing their employees to have a lot of flexibility, whether it’s work from home a few days a week, work in satellite offices, touchdown on the HQ office a couple of times a month. I enjoyed working with those progressive companies and I think more companies will be thinking like that. And flexibility for their workforce will be more prevalent.

How do you perceive the landscape of #CRETech today?

#CRETech today is seeing significant growth. What will change the landscape of #CRETech are the individuals involved in commercial real estate. As more and more millennials come into the business they will become quick adapters of the new technologies created to make their lives easier.

The baby boomers are at a point in their career where they are involved in transactions for a high-level relationship; they aren’t necessarily involved in the day-to-day creation of the reports and heavy paperwork that these new technologies help with.  Their lack of adoption creates inefficiencies with their team below them.

As the landscape changes adoption will happen quicker than its happening today, but I’m sure the next generation coming into the CRE world will feel we’re not adapting fast enough.

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