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50 Most Trustworthy Companies of the Year 2021

Disrupting the Commercial Real Estate Industry and Beyond: Keyser

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“As commercial real estate brokers, we provide expert advice, consultancy, and guidance to help organizations figure out what to do from a commercial real estate standpoint.”

Keyser is an award winning, Inc. 5000 company that was recently named the Commercial Real Estate Industry Disruptor by USA Today. Founded in 2013, Keyser has rapidly become one of the largest independent, tech enabled firms of its kind in the country, serving organizations domestically and globally with their real estate needs. Keyser exclusively represents tenants/end users of office, industrial, retail, medical, education, and non-profit space, helping them with all manner of real estate matters including but not limited to lease renewals, relocations, build-to-suits, acquisitions, and dispositions.

To highlight and further understand what Keyser stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Jonathan Keyser, the company’s founder.

Below is an excerpt.

Q. Tell us what inspired the creation of Keyser.

The commercial real estate industry is well known to be overly competitive and cut-throat. What inspired the creation of Keyser was a vision to change the nature of this industry and to teach people how to create success through selfless service, even in arguably one of the most ruthless industries in the world. One of Keyser’s unique differentiators is that we only represent the occupier or corporate user of space—versus representing landlords, developers, and real estate investors. We eliminate the inherent conflicts of interest that arise with traditional commercial real estate firms that represent both tenants and landlords. We only negotiate on behalf of users and occupiers of space, and we bring a spirit of selfless service to everything that we do.

Q. Given that Keyser is a world-class commercial real estate advisory firm, how uniquely does it serve its clients’ needs?

At Keyser, we are dedicated to serving the best interests of our clients. We often spend three to four times the amount of time per client than our competitors do. This time is spent very intentionally because we believe that going far above and beyond on behalf of our clients creates a long-term, loyal, sustainable client base, many of whom refer us to their friends. This strategy has been so successful that our team is not reliant on cold calls and outbound marketing. Keyser is a true referral-only company.

Q. That’s not all Keyser does. What are its other focus areas?

As an AI enabled, disruptive commercial real estate brokerage firm, Keyser serves clients in virtually every industry, including office, industrial, healthcare, retail, franchise, aerospace, nonprofit, and the public sector.

Our ideal clients are growing, mid-market companies that need a trusted, experienced partner to help them lease new locations, renegotiate or exit existing leases, purchase new facilities, or sell excess owned properties.

We do also work for companies with large portfolios of leased or owned sites. To add value to these clients, we have a lease administration team which helps organize and manage critical lease information, a project management division that helps clients develop properties for themselves or build spaces specific to their unique needs, and a world-class human capital team which assists clients with workforce and workplace strategy.

Q. In what industries are your clients? Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?

Keyser serves clients throughout all industries, but below is a recent client success story.

A national private equity backed healthcare firm with locations across North America had grown rapidly via acquisitions and was looking for a partner to help them strategically manage their leases and implement best-in-class real estate systems and processes. Their portfolio was heavily decentralized, with managers in each market having their own “fiefdoms” and making real estate decisions based on personal preference instead of what was best for the organization as a whole. Additionally, they had no central depository of lease abstracts, renewal data, or reporting, which led to multiple last-minute lease renewals and the inability to survey the market to drive down leasing costs.

The client hired Keyser to create a cohesive and strategic real estate plan to handle their national real estate transactions, including all leasing and dispositions. We designed and implemented a web-based lease repository system to track and manage existing leases and manage the renewal, relocation, and expansion processes. We developed a real estate decision making process to allow their Risk Department to work with newly acquired companies and administer real estate decision making in new markets. We also coordinated and integrated a national effort to streamline and standardize the design and project management of new construction for all new projects in order to save resources, reduce budget, and develop economies of scale. Through Keyser’s proactive, integrated approach to transaction management, lease administration, and project management, we were able to save client over 21% of the client’s real estate-related costs throughout the course of our relationship.

Q. From your perspective, how is the industry you serve currently evolving? And what are the trends in the different categories?

As a technology enabled company, we keep our finger on the pulse of emerging tools that could benefit our clients. As commercial real estate brokers, we provide expert advice, consultancy, and guidance to help organizations figure out what they should do from a commercial real estate standpoint and help them execute upon that. We believe that technology should always be used to help guide and support a strategy.

With the work-from-home movement thriving, business leaders are currently questioning what their commercial real estate strategy should be. We’re helping organizations understand how their commercial real estate strategy integrates with their human capital strategy, and how they can optimize space and work schedules to “right-size” their commercial footprint. We specialize in customizing workforce and workplace strategies that give organizations a roadmap for how they should operate, define roles and responsibilities, and evaluate their culture and cultural goals.

Q. Where do you stand as a company in the current market landscape? And what are you doing to stay ahead of the curve?

We’ve been named the “Commercial Real Estate Industry Disruptor” by USA Today, an Inc. 5000 company, a “Best Place to Work” by the Business Journal, named the #1 Industry Supplier two years running by Entrepreneur Magazine, one of “Arizona’s Most Admired Companies”, Costar’s “Powerbroker”, AZ Business’s “Most Creative Companies”, and Keyser is regularly featured in publications like Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, The Business Journal, and Fast Company for thought leadership.

Keyser is one of the largest independent firms of our kind in the country. Every member of the Keyser team is committed to fifteen core operating principles, which encompass ideals like selfless service, self-development, bold action, coachability, and work ethic. We constantly pursue transformation within our firm and community, and are consistently pushing our members to greater heights, all with the understanding that stronger individuals lead to superior service.

Q. What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

Best-in-class service and going above and beyond to serve the needs of our clients will always be relevant. We are confident in our ability to provide actionable insights and well-thought-out strategies. No trend is more relevant and beneficial to clients than having a team of proactive advocates on their side who are experts in what they do, are well versed in their craft and completely committed to their clients’ success.

Q. Will Keyser be expanding, bringing on any services that we should be aware of?

Keyser continues to expand our service offerings, and we will continue to bring best-in-class service to every client. Stay tuned for many exciting new things that we’ll be rolling out in the near future.

A Relentlessly Reliable Leader

Jonathan Keyser is the founder of Keyser (http://www.keyser.com), one of the largest independent, tenant-only commercial real estate firms in the country. He is a founding member of EXIS Global (http://www.exisglobal.com/), the largest independent, commercial real estate organization in the world committed to exclusively representing corporate end-users. Mr. Keyser focuses his efforts on changing the business world through selfless service. His efforts manifest in his content, thought leadership, and the level of excellence he holds his team to within Keyser.

Jonathan is a #1 Best Selling Author in the Wall Street Journal for his book, “You Don’t Have to be Ruthless to Win”, and a world renown speaker and thought leader both for commercial real estate and company culture. He has been featured in over 150 articles, publications, and podcasts, and is a regular contributor to local and national publications.

“One of the biggest success stories out of Arizona is Jonathan Keyser’s firm built on helping other people.”—Doug Ducey, Governor of Arizona.