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Recognizing Excellence in Real Estate Performance

Posted on May 17, 2023 by Andrew J. Nelson

Kingsley Excellence Awards Businessman holding award at podium with colleagues in a business seminar

Everyone likes to be appreciated for a job well done– CRE firms included. When you work hard and outperform your peers, it feels good to be recognized. But beyond the glow of positive feedback, industry recognition can yield a range of benefits for organizations.

This is true across most industries, but awards can be especially valuable for firms in competitive industries like commercial real estate (CRE), where companies fight daily to attract and retain employees and clients while also focusing on growing market share. 

Building Industry Reputation

Most directly, industry awards can help raise a firm’s visibility to potential clients and business partners, expanding awareness beyond the reach of regular marketing. Peer recognition also helps build credibility that the firm can be trusted – particularly as it relates to winning new clients and business partners who may be unaware of the firm or its offerings.

This is especially the case when the award is for broad achievements such as “Best Managed” or “Best Company of the Year.” But awards can also expand brand awareness if a CRE company is recognized for best-in-class sustainability efforts or if a brokerage firm is acknowledged for its excellence in marketing. Often prestige buildings will prominently display LEED certification plaques awarded by the US Green Building Council. In short, industry awards serve as impartial vetting that can help build or burnish a firm’s standing in the industry.

Also, most professionals are aware that the accolades are not awarded in a vacuum. Firms generally must apply for these awards and invest resources to not only conduct the activity being evaluated but also document their success. Thus, just being in the contest signals a firm’s ambitions and attention to quality. Prominent examples include the Urban Land Institute’s “Awards for Excellence” and the “Developer of the Year Award” from the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

In this way, competing for and winning awards can help attract new clients and complement the firm’s marketing efforts to grow sales, secure financing, or achieve other business objectives that depend on having a strong industry reputation – all of which can ultimately improve the firm’s bottom line.

The War for Talent

Another major reason to actively pursue industry awards is that it bolsters the firm’s reputation as a positive work environment for current and prospective employees. Even with economic uncertainty, labor markets are historically tight – especially for top talent.

Winning prestigious industry awards can foster a sense of pride among employees and help retain top talent. Securing an industry award can also raise the firm’s visibility and reputation outside the organization, which can help recruit new talent. Today’s workforce increasingly wants to not only feel good about where they work, but they also want to know that their employer will offer challenging opportunities to learn and strive – and have fun. Leading firms should pursue industry awards that demonstrate these traits.

Of course, winning awards – even the most highly regarded honors – doesn’t, by itself, guarantee the firm will be able to attract the desired talent or win new clients. But in a competitive landscape, firms need to avail themselves of every potential advantage.

3rd Party Recognition

Awards are viewed as different from reputation ratings on social media. Almost as soon as rating systems and websites launched, some companies learned how to game the system, or at least tip the scales in their favor.  A whole industry of consultants arose to help in this effort, to the point where there is now broad suspicion about the reliability of many “pay for play” ratings, undermining their very purpose.

By contrast, established industry award programs promote integrity through transparency and objective standards. In many, the ratings are based on precise point systems. Firms certainly can strategize about how to achieve required scores most efficiently, but the best industry programs are clear about how they rate firms and explain their rationale.

The Kingsley Excellence Awards

As the recipient of many awards over the years, Grace Hill appreciates the significance of industry recognition.  In the last two years, Grace Hill has been a “Silver Stevie Winner” from the American Business Awards (for medium-sized Real Estate Company of the Year) and a “Top 10 Commercial Real Estate Solutions Provider” by Proptech Outlook.  Plus, they were named among the “Best Places to Work” by the National Apartment Association.

Knowing the importance of awards for their own business, Grace Hill expanded the Kingsley Excellence Awards to recognize the properties and organizations that have exceptional tenant or resident overall satisfaction. The awards are based on the Kingsley Index, Grace Hill’s proprietary performance benchmarking database used to level-set, compare, and track property performance against industry standards. With separate awards for the multifamily industry, Grace Hill recognizes individual commercial real estate properties that outperform the Kingsley Index benchmark for overall satisfaction and highlights their achievement with the Kingsley Excellence Award. Properties with a perfect 5.0 overall tenant satisfaction score for two years in a row also qualify for the 100% Club award. Plus, The Elite 5 distinction further recognizes the top CRE companies with the highest overall tenant satisfaction scores across their portfolio.

Because Grace Hill is also committed to making a positive corporate and community-based impact, they recently created the Impact Hero Awards Program to recognize individuals at Grace Hill client companies who go above and beyond to help others and make a difference in their local community. You can read more about the program and see the 2022 winners.

The Bottom Line

In the increasingly competitive commercial real estate market, companies need to do everything possible to attract and retain tenants, employees, and clients.  Earning industry awards is an area that has shown to make an impact. Having a strong reputation and positive stakeholder relationships are essential in this industry, and striving to earn third-party recognition can help support both of those important goals.

Andrew J. Nelson is a real estate economist and author at Nelson Economics, focusing on property market dynamics and demographic analysis, as well as research methods and modeling. Andrew is the lead writer for the Urban Land Institute’s annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate publication and a contributing writer for Seeking Alpha and Propmodo Before founding Nelson Economics, he served as Chief U.S. Economist for Colliers International, where he led the national research team. He developed the firm’s economic and property market perspectives and served as the firm’s primary U.S. economic spokesperson in the media and at industry events. Prior to Colliers, Andrew worked at Deutsche Asset Management (RREEF) as Director, Research & Strategy in the Americas, where he managed the U.S. research team and was the retail sector and sustainability specialist.  Andrew has also held a variety of other leadership positions in both the public and private sectors, including Vice President of HOK Advance Strategies, where he served as national practice leader of the Portfolio Services service line; managed a construction-lending program for the World Bank in Russia; held a two-year “Community Builder” fellowship with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and managed the regional real estate consulting practice at Deloitte & Touche in San Francisco. Andrew earned a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harpur College. Learn more about Andrew Nelson’s background and experience on his LinkedIn page.

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