5 for Friday with Mike Fusek, CCIM

This week, we talk to recent SVN Partner Circle award-winner Mike Fusek, CCIM. Mike is a senior advisor at SVN Rankin Co., LLC in Springfield, Missouri, where he specializes in the industrial, office, restaurant and retail markets.


Pic of Mike Fusek
Mike Fusek, CCIM

1. What advice would you provide to an aspiring advisor who is new to the industry? 

First, find a mentor who is wiser, wealthier, and older than you.  Age and experience offer a different life perspective and will save you time.

Second, learn to love your work, work hard, and make sure your family is your real priority. The money is fun, although not as rewarding as I always imagined. The journey is more rewarding than the pot of gold.

Third,  if you only focus on tomorrow, you forget what is truly important today.

And lastly, only do it if you absolutely love it.  Life is too short to not truly love what you do.


2. What does the SVN Difference mean to you? 

People you can trust.


3. What learning tools (book, blog, website, etc.) would you recommend to your colleagues to further their knowledge and enhance their careers?  

The CCIM Institute.


 4. What was your most memorable deal and why? 

Selling a four-acre property for Steve and Cassie Devine.  They paid $60,000 for the rental house and land, hoped it was now worth $150,000, and I ended up selling it for $480,000. The sale (and the profits) completely changed their lives and Cassie was able to retire from seamstress job that she felt oppressed by.  It was my most rewarding deal because they were so grateful, and it so radically changed their lives.


5.List a fun fact to share about yourself – something that people may not know and that they may be surprised to find out.

Deciding to ride my bike everywhere possible. Riding my bike meant that I drove fewer than 2,000 miles in the last year!


Learn more about CRE careers on the Careers with SVN page.

SVN Advisor Spotlight: Golf and Resorts

The next video in our SVN Advisor Spotlight series features Kevin Maggiacomo, President and CEO of SVN International Corp. who recently sat down with Mike Fusek, CCIM, Senior Advisor at SVN | Rankin Company, LLC, Deena Zimmerman, Vice President at SVN | Chicago Commercial and Frank Jermusek, JD, President and Managing Director at SVN | Northco Real Estate Services to get their thoughts on different aspects of the SVN Difference.

Properties within the golf course and resorts sector of the commercial real estate industry tend to be more complex to purchase and/or sell. Often times when working with these types of deals, these properties can include numerous restaurants, bars, spas, and timeshares which in turn can cause some major confusion for both the buyer and seller when it comes to trying to calculate their bottom line.

Kevin Maggiacomo, President and CEO of SVN International Corp. discussed with Frank Jermusek the hurdles advisors can face when selling these properties as well as the importance and necessity of using a golf course and resorts specialists when working these types of deals.

The following is an excerpt from a recent SVN Advisor Spotlight Panel. The full video will be released to our Advisor base on The SVN Dashboard shortly.


“A full-service resort is so different than a hotel. A hotel and lodging are part of a resort deal. We have attorneys, accountants, finance and hospitality people that have worked these industries so our approach is really more like a mergers and acquisitions approach.”

-Frank Jermusek, JD, President and Managing Director SVN | Northco Real Estate Services

To find out more about what SVN has to offer you or your clients, please download our SVN Difference book, and visit our culture and career website pages.

If you are interested in franchise opportunities with SVN please visit our franchising page.

SVN Advisor Spotlight: The SVN Difference

SVN® Advisor Spotlight: The SVN Difference

SVN’s collaborative approach, transparency and dedication to maximizing value for our clients is what we refer to as The SVN Difference. The SVN Difference is about putting clients first. It’s about building trust with our clients and lasting mutual relationships with the entire brokerage community.  Most commercial real estate brokers still do not proactively market their listings throughout the brokerage community; instead, they choose to find buyers for their listings in their own local databases. This discourages competition, reduces eyeballs, creates fewer offers, and often causes a property to sell for less than their full market value but with a higher fee for the broker.

At SVN, we proactively market listings through our platform and to the entire commercial real estate ecosystem resulting in increased deal flow, shorter transaction times, and repeat business by satisfied clients.

But, don’t take our word for it, here’s what one of our top advisors says about the SVN Difference.

Kevin Maggiacomo, President and CEO of SVN International Corp. recently sat down with Mike Fusek, CCIM, Senior Advisor at SVN | Rankin Company, LLC, Deena Zimmerman, Vice President at SVN | Chicago Commercial and Frank Jermusek, JD, President and Managing Director at SVN | Northco Real Estate Services for our latest video in our SVN Advisor Spotlight series.

In this video we hear from Mike Fusek who gives his perspective on The SVN Difference and how the collaborative and efficient approach has created more value for his clients.

The following is an excerpt from a recent SVN Advisor Spotlight Panel. The full video will be released to our Advisor base shortly.

 “It’s about speed and exposure. Is it going to take 3 weeks to get your property to market or is it going to go through the SVN website and be done in 24 hours? Is it going to take 12 months to get in front of 100,000 brokers and buyers, or is it going to take 48 hours?”

Mike Fusek, CCIM, Senior Advisor at SVN | Rankin Company, LLC

To find out more about what SVN can offer you or your clients, please download our SVN Difference book, and visit our culture and career website pages.

If you are interested in franchise opportunities with SVN please visit our franchising page.

SVN Coffee and Culture Chat with Kevin Maggiacomo

Collaboration is a Key Contributor to SVN’s Culture

When SVN was first established in 1987 it was launched with the recognition of the tremendous inefficiencies, conflicts of interests and dysfunctional state of the commercial real estate industry. SVN’s goal at the time was to make changes to the broker-first mentality the industry was currently operating within and to develop a method that would always put the client’s best interest first. In doing so, SVN was able to build a culture of unparalleled transparency and trust among our colleagues, that gave us the ability to create the most value for the most amount of people within the CRE industry through a collaborative effort.

Kevin Maggiacomo , President and CEO of SVN recently sat down with SVN’s Chief Operating Officer Diane Danielson and John McDermott, Executive Director of SVN | Chicago Commercial to get their point of view on SVN’s unique collaborative business model.

“SVN strived to create a company built around a culture of cooperation and fee sharing. A culture centered around embracing and working with our competitors to market our listings to achieve higher prices for our clients”

-Kevin Maggiacomo, Presidente and CEO of SVN International Corp.

Creating a Culture of Trust in Commercial Real Estate – The SVN Difference

The “SVN Difference” originates in our business model, which is designed to place the client’s interest first – even when we don’t have to – to ensure a better outcome for the client. As a result, SVN is positioned to earn the highest degree of trust – from our clients, from our colleagues, and from everyone who is a member of our SVN Community. This creates an environment that is open and inclusive to everyone and empowering for all our advisors and their clients. Successful company cultures begin with trust, exist on trust and grow with trust. To find out more about what SVN can offer you or your clients, please download our SVN Difference book, and visit our culture and career website pages.

For Franchise opportunities, visit our franchising page.


5 for Friday – Diana Peterson of SVN AuctionWorks

This week’s Five for Friday shines a spotlight on Diana Peterson, of SVN AuctionWorks in the Chicago area. SVN AuctionWorks specializes in auction services, and does a large portion of its business in the Midwest. Increasingly, Diana has been working on transactions in other areas of the country because of the many referrals from the SVN network of brokers.

Photo of Diana Peterson
Diana Peterson of SVN AuctionWorks


1. What advice would you provide to an aspiring advisor who is new to the industry?

Find a mentor whom you admire and who is highly respected in the industry and observe which traits and habits contribute most to his or her success. Try to emulate those traits and habits.  Beyond that, work very hard; maximize the use of your time (including prioritizing which networking associations you join and events you attend); and always make your primary goal on each transaction achieving what is in the best interest of your client.

Once you start achieving noteworthy sales or leasing successes, be sure to shout out about them, using social media and PR to help build your name recognition and personal brand in your local market.

 2. What does the SVN Difference mean to you? 

Collaboration and sharing fees with other brokers is always in the best interest of the client.

3. What learning tools (book, blog, website, etc.) would you recommend to your colleagues to further their knowledge and enhance their careers?

 Check out the Wall Street Journal daily to stay on top of what is happening across all industries, and to learn what may be impacting and driving your clients and prospective clients businesses.  Also, it’s key to subscribe to and read daily news feeds/eblasts that relate to commercial real estate and business in your area.

Every three to six months, take a very close look online at what all of your main competitors are doing and saying about their value-add proposition and then, if necessary, tweak your message and update your marketing materials in order to remain competitive.

4. What inspired you to open an SVN franchise? Or, why did you join SVN? 

 In addition to the collaborative culture of SVN, I was attracted to SVN’s national platform and the well established and respected SVN brand.  Having previously started two real estate brokerage and auction related businesses that lacked a national platform and nationally recognized brand, I recognized the limitations associated with a smaller, lesser known brand.  I did not want to be limited in how much or how fast I could grow this business.

5. List a fun fact to share about yourself – something that people may not know and that they may be surprised to find out.

After college, I worked in TV/financial news reporting with Ron Insana and Joe Kernen.  When they both left Financial News Network in Los Angeles (where we all worked) to go to CNBC in New York, I was asked to join them but chose instead to go to law school.  Silly me!

Are you ready to experience the SVN Difference? Check out our Careers page here.


Top 3 Things that Keep #CRE Leaders up at Night

Recently I was asked to speak for the Society of Exchange Counselors at their marketing conference in Burlington, VT, where commercial real estate brokers, principals, developers, owners and investors were in attendance. I have adapted this talk for the SVN Blog so that our readers can find out what I think are the top 3 things that keep #CRE leaders up at night.

I know, because I talk to dozens of #CRE leaders every single day that there are 3 things that are always top of mind.

  1. Deal Flow
  2. Growth
  3. Happy Clients

Today I am going to show you how SVN can drive a lot more deal flow to you and your local market.

I am also going to tell you some exceptional ways how SVN is helping our Advisors grow.

Lastly, I will share how the SVN Difference has proven time and time again that our model of open communication, collaboration and sharing of information not only within SVN’s Shared Value Network, but the entire CRE community, yields a 9.6% higher price per SF on average on deals involving broker cooperation compared to deals that are double ended.

How does SVN do this?

Well, with regard to Deal Flow – Our advanced technology tools and marketing platform help Advisors be able to automate processes that in the past have been manual, labor intensive and time consuming, preventing more deal flow.

Growth – We all want to talk about this and know it’s important. SVN knows it’s important to you… and how it impacts your bottom line. SVN helps drive this growth in various ways: through SVN’s System for Growth which is our online training program, our award winning marketing platform powered by Buildout, recruiting assistance, education, product councils, deal making calls, national and regional seminars and conferences and more. Outside of training and recruiting tools that SVN provides, I personally help different markets grow through the relationships I have and the global marketing reach of SVN.

Happy Clients – Everybody wants a happy client. I want happy clients – don’t you? SVN knows how important it is to create amazing value for you as Advisors and your clients so they want to do multiple future transactions with you again. How? It’s the people at SVN who put clients’ interests first – it’s our culture. We’ve found in an independent study that deals sold through broker cooperation achieve a 9.6% higher price per square foot, on average, than deals that are double-ended. SVN is the only CRE firm in the country that invites outside CRE firms and their clients to a live open sales call each Monday morning and I invite you all to join.

SVN join the svn live call-01

The SVN Difference is a difference that will drive increased deal flow, growth and at the same time create a happier client that will want to do more transactions with you and send referrals to you in the future.

[bctt tweet=”SVN is the only #CRE firm that invites outside firms and their clients to a weekly live open sales call” username=”svnic”]

An Advisor's Take on ICSC: Noticing the SVN Difference

Experiencing the SVN Difference at ICSC in Las Vegas

Walls, doors, whispering and winks. All of these were present at this year’s ICSC convention. Not that these are in and of themselves bad, but it was these differences that I noticed between our SVN booth and most others.

Our SVN booth was not the biggest, definitely not the most extravagant, but it was packed, well-lit, there were no back rooms for private conversations, or doors to suggest that only someone more important than me can go there.

As I walked around, almost 2 years into a Commercial Brokerage career with SVN | Cornerstone in Spokane, WA and my second ICSC, it struck me, that’s another example of our SVN Difference.

Opening Closed Doors: The SVN Difference

SVN Difference at ICSC
The SVN booth at ICSC in May.

We aren’t about walls and doors or whispering and winks. We are about visible opportunities and “sky’s the limit” access to information with our culture of collaboration.

At SVN we have regular access to our top Executives, our Managing Directors, other offices who have done what we are trying to do and world-class technology platforms to do it well. And that kind of environment is exactly what our industry needs to attract future talent.

Professionals my age want to know we have a chance. We want to know that if we work hard we will have as good of a chance as any to create a respectable income for our loved ones. That if we don’t have access to closed doors and are separated by fancy walls, we still have access to opportunity.

And that’s a big part of the SVN Difference. Opportunity. And that’s exactly the opposite of what those walls, doors, whispering and winks produce.

We are a country founded upon the value of opportunity. If I can just get a chance, don’t give it to me, but give me a chance and I will out work the other broker.

That’s what SVN does. We get all the tools, the right culture and a chance. What else can someone ask for?

To learn more about the SVN Difference, visit the Why SVN page here.

[bctt tweet=”That’s what SVN does. We get all the tools, the right culture and a chance. #CRE” username=”svnic”]

The SVN Commercial Real Estate Cooperation Report

The Commercial Real Estate Cooperation Report Changes Everything

SVN CRE Cooperation ReportIf you read National Real Estate Investor, or follow the SVN Twitter feed (@SVNIC ), you may have noticed a recent piece that I wrote entitled, “When Brokers Cooperate, Sellers Net More.” The NREI article made a bold claim:

Deals sold through broker cooperation achieve a 9.6 percent higher price per square foot, on average, than deals that are double-ended.

In other words, everything we say about the SVN Difference, about Compensated Cooperation and about our Shared Value Network… It’s true. 100% true. Furthermore, SVN has been right about it for almost 30 years.

The NREI article gives you a taste of the argument. If you want to see the whole report that lays out the full analysis, including the stories, end notes, charts and graphs, click the image to the right.

The Best Way of Doing Brokerage

I think the most important part of this report is that the industry has proof to support that cooperation is the best way of doing brokerage... which just so happens is the way that about every other efficient market outside of the commercial real estate world works.

Believe it or not, it’s the first time that anyone has ever done this. We worked with an economics professor to check our numbers, and he did a review of the academic literature. No one has analyzed thousands of commercial deals to see if cooperation works. They’ve done it on the residential side, but never on our side, the commercial side of the business. So, at least for now, this is it.

The CRE (Not So) Secret Weapon

The Cooperation Report is a powerful tool for brokers to use when competing for listings. It provides an arrow in your quiver to support the argument that you, a cooperation driven real estate professional, the way you do brokerage, is proven to earn a higher sale price per square foot. Bottomline. There is no arguing with that. Happy hunting.

[bctt tweet=”Win that listing with this (not so) secret #CRE weapon. ” username=”svnic”]

SVN Specialty Awards: Team Player – Steve Kawulok

Recognizing the SVN Difference with Specialty Awards

Team126If you read my recent blog post about the SVN Annual Conference highlights, you know that the SVN Specialty Awards recognize members of the SVN community who have distinguished themselves in 2015 by making significant impacts on the commercial real estate industry and beyond. The awards – which included Team Player of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Collaborator of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Prospector of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Firm of the Year – looked beyond production results and instead focused on culture. The winners of this year’s SVN Specialty Awards each embody traits that the SVN culture values immensely: practicing collaboration, cooperation and conscious capitalism while excelling in commercial real estate.

SVN Team Player of the Year 2015 – Steve Kawulok

Steve Kawulok - SVN Specialty AwardsSteve Kawulok, Managing Director of SVN | Denver Commercial has been with SVN since 2007 and under his direction, the Fort Collins office has been a top performing office for as long as we can remember. However, the fact that there were a number of nominations for Steve that came from around the country is a testament to his ability to be a true SVN Team Player. This year, Steve took it to another level when he was instrumental in building the SVN presence in Denver. To a quote one of the nominations that came in:

“His unique strong – yet soft-spoken – style made him the perfect candidate to blend the multiple Colorado offices and work together with the leaders from the Chicago SVN office to establish a regional presence in the Denver metro area. He is a real team player.”

The SVN blog will be featuring one SVN Specialty Award winner every week for the next few weeks. Stay up to date with SVN and CRE industry news.

5 Tips to Perfect the Fast Pitch by Diane Danielson

Tips for Pitching the #SVNDifference

Last month I had an opportunity to speak at #DisruptCRE, which featured a number of commercial real estate technology companies seeking to “disrupt” the industry. One of the sessions included a fast-pitch session so that companies like Sperry Van Ness International Corporation as well as venture capitalists seeking to invest could learn about a company in 45 seconds or less.

Now, 45 seconds sounds like a very short time, but it’s still enough to convey a wealth of information. Out of the 20 presentations we saw, a couple of them stood out, not necessarily because their apps and technology were relevant to SVN, in fact most of them were not, but they had perfected their fast-pitch presentations.*

As Commercial Real Estate Advisors, we aren’t pitching new business tools to clients, but we are pitching our services and systems and often within short timeframes. In any presentation, we have only the first few seconds to make a good impression and explain the #SVNDifference. In fact, we want to see how our own Advisors do their version of a fast pitch in our #SVNDifference video contest (Click here for details; entries due by November 24, 2015).

[bctt tweet=”45 seconds sounds like a very short time, but it’s still enough to convey a wealth of information through your pitch #CRE”]

Here are a few helpful hints for delivering your pitch to clients in 45 seconds or less:

  1. Analogies work. If you are trying to introduce something new and different, then you need to give people a baseline. This is why Hollywood pitches always start out as it’s “Jaws meets Twister” or “Harry meets Sally online.”

SVN Advisor Tip: Be able to describe how you can organize greater demand for a property in words and/or analogies that your clients will understand.

  1. Tell stories. If you want people to remember you, your service, or your product, tell a story about it. Here are six rules for great storytelling. And, yes, a good presenter can tell an entire story within 45 seconds.

SVN Advisor Tip: Is there a story that demonstrates how your firm has used our Open Sales Call to create greater demand and/or to sell a property faster?

  1. Differentiate from the competition. Use your stories to illustrate how your service differs from the competition.

SVN Advisor Tip: This is why you need to perfect your #SVNDifference pitch!

  1. Be able to pitch without PowerPoint or props. In 45 seconds, your verbal description needs to stand on its own, no matter the product or service.

SVN Advisor Tip: Listen to the pitches on the Open Sales Call. Make notes on which ones are the most effective.

  1. Align with their values. What does your client value? Are they tied to the local community? What is their company culture or priorities?

SVN Advisor Tip: At SVN we value collaboration, local expertise, and transparent fees to drive demand. Identify clients who do the same, and the easier it will be to make your pitch.

One final reason to really nail the fast pitch is that even if the person making the decision is excited for your service, implementation is another story. For your client to make a change, they often have to convince a lot of other people to go along with them, some of who may be reluctant. You need to help them duplicate your fast pitch internally and that’s where the tips above can help.

Looking forward to seeing some versions of our Advisors’ 45-second pitches in our #SVNDifference Video Contest!

*Just in case you were wondering, there was not a bad pitch in the whole set at DisruptCRE, but the top 45-second pitches of the day were by Raisal, Building Conversation, and CrowdComfort. Great job to those companies and all the others who presented last week.

DTZ/CW merger highlights the need for the SVN Difference

The Cushman & Wakefield/DTZ merger has dominated international commercial real estate headlines since its announcement on May 11th.  During that time, debates around the water cooler have centered on its impact and relevance to competitive firms and individual practitioners.  My staff and I have understandably been asked questions like, “What does this mean?” and “Does this matter to us?”

While the dust is far from settling on this massive merger, and while there exists a multitude of differing opinions on the topic, in the post that follows, I’ll clarify my position on the deal and share what I think it means for the SVN brand and its Advisors.

First, this consolidation is following the “Rule of 3” – over the past several years, the world economy (particularly in the developed, free market economies of Europe and North America), has been characterized by a unique economic phenomena of mergers & acquisitions at unprecedented levels.  As a result, the landscape of just about every major industry has changed in a significant way, moving inexorably toward a block of three companies that enjoy a large market presence, while still leaving a great deal of opportunity for smaller, more nimble and more client focused organizations to continue profiting in the market.  This is now in play in the business of servicing commercial real estate and comes as no surprise to many.

Second, it matters.  It matters because while the CRE brokerage industry remains remarkably fragmented, there are now fewer, bigger players.  This can prove to be tremendously advantageous to those outside of this circle, but will also send a wake-up call to many:

  • The Big 3 are increasing their revenue & profitability through market share growth and by providing a generalized “one stop shop” offering.  The growth models of the Big 3 are rooted in geographic-based market share growth and are backed by private equity or public equity giants. This can make for a disadvantage when compared to smaller firms in their ability to innovate. Much like trying to turn an aircraft carrier, these mega firms are not as nimble and swift as their smaller competitors.
  • The multi-layered firms who comprise the Big 3 will stand in sharp contrast to the more entrepreneurial firms outside of the ring.  As an SVN Managing Director said to me “Remember the commercial brokerage business when YOU determined how much you could earn; not a corporation, public entity or the stockholders?”  “That’s SVN!”  I agree – and while SVN is certainly not the only beneficiary of this dynamic, our point of differentiation just got more distinct.
  • As many have already opined, there will be considerable fallout.  Given the above, meshing the two firm’s corporate cultures is a formidable challenge for the executives involved and a strong recruiting opportunity for competitors.  You will see people moving around and significant attrition within the industry.  This is proving to be the case at SVN with our Managing Directors reporting a flurry of meeting requests from the players involved.
  • The day of the generalist is over. These larger firms are better positioned to provide more highly specialized services in every market they serve.  Regional firm and independent generalists best take heed of their better-resourced, specialized competitors.  Now is the time to focus.
  • The industry just became even more opaque. Collaborating and cooperating on investment sales and leasing transactions has not exactly been a hallmark of the big nationals.  Look for their percentage of “double-ended” deals to increase in the year ahead.

This merger matters to companies and brokerages and at both the local and national levels. Here at home, it makes the SVN Difference more stark — and even more important.  And while the opportunities stemming from the above are significant to us, what’s even more significant is that our clients need the SVN Difference more than ever.

I’ll close by sharing excerpts from an email I sent to the SVN corporate team late last week:

Our industry just went from X firms that don’t collaborate with each other to do the best for their clients to X minus one.  If you’re a seller looking to get the best price — or a tenant looking to be shown everyone’s inventory to find the right site — you won’t get better service than at SVN.

There is still only one firm that practices compensated cooperation – 50% of the fee, 100% of the time.  Only one firm that opens up all of their listings on their website and on an internationally known Monday National Sales Call — SVN. They might have gotten bigger. But, when it comes to representing our clients’ interests, we’re still better.

You can experience an alternate SVN Difference. With the mergers and the movements towards more corporate firms answering to stock markets and large equity investors, entrepreneurs are finding it harder and harder to control their own destinies in Commercial Real Estate. Here at SVN, remember that as an Advisor, you can rise as far as your talent and determination can take you with no one to stop you.

I congratulate DTZ and Cushman on their merger. But I’m even happier for our clients and for all of us.