As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Davis.
Andrea Davis, leading expert in the commercial real estate industry, has over 20 years industry experience in helping thousands of businesses find their dream office. She is a regular speaker at Phoenix Business Relations and Women of Influence and has been featured in numerous publications including Phoenix Business Journal, AZ Big Media, AZRE, Business Radio Network, Scottsdale Airpark News and many others where she has shared her expertise with the community.
Andrea is the author of the book “SimpLEASEity,” which focuses on leasing office, medical, industrial, and retail space. She is also the owner of Andrea Davis Commercial Real Estate which was voted one of the best businesses in Arizona by Ranking Arizona. Clients choose to work with Andrea for her full-service capabilities, experience and expertise. Her breadth of knowledge stretches from developers to landlords to buyer/tenant representation and investments.
In her spare time, Andrea enjoys spending time with her family and two rescue dogs. She is passionate about helping others and works closely with the non-profit 200 Orphanages. She feels fortunate to have made an impact with the group by raising enough money to build a well for a Tanzania orphanage. Andrea owes her fresh point of view to the travels she’s done and hopes to make the world a better place to live, one action at a time.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Divine intervention! I needed a break from the intensity of modeling in NYC and decided to backpack in Arizona. After 6 months, I thought, “Maybe I need to get a job. I think I like it out here.” Through a series of events I met a Canadian commercial developer who hired me as his executive assistant. Modeling certainly wasn’t going to support me in a small town like Scottsdale. When the company moved back to Canada, I went into brokerage and eventually opened my own company.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I’ve had so many interesting stories that I wrote a book on leasing, SimpLEASEity™. It’s based on client’s horror stories and leasing gone bad. I shift these stories to win-win scenarios and share with other tenants how to avoid common pit falls when leasing commercial space. Also, I started a blog series, Dear Business Owner, that shares the intense moments of a transaction and how we achieved a win-win scenario. I hope to combine them into a book in the near future.
A recent interesting story that I like is Charles. Charles was a repeat customer and he wanted a 10,000 square foot warehouse to lease for a new leg of his business. During the tour process, we quickly concluded that Charles didn’t need a 10,000 square foot warehouse. He needed a corporate office with a warehouse component. We found Charles a 28,000 square foot office/warehouse combo to support his company’s growth. By asking the right questions and going through the motions, we made a discovery that launched Charles business into great success. I have to mention, we found a building that was move in ready and furnished! With computers as well.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My client called me singing legal language quoted from his purchase contract. “What’s he on?” I initially thought. And then he cracked up laughing.
“Look at your email.” He instructed.
I had asked him to please sing the attached contract instead of please sign the attached contract.
Ok. Lesson learned. Proof every email before you push click!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Our commitment to service. Can you share a story?
Dr. Meka’s dream was to own and operate a micro hospital designed to specifically meet the needs of the community. He thought he would start with a 24/7 urgent care facility. We couldn’t find a building that supported his vision. Through the search process he realized that it was best for him to create his dream from scratch. A land purchase was in order. We shifted direction and found the perfect location in a central area of town. As luck would have it, Murphy’s law paid a visit. The property zoning required a special use permit, a public hearing and council approval. ADCRE worked with Dr Meka step-by-step to assure his aspiration came true. The city council voted unanimously for the hospital use and granted the additional permit. The doctors closed on the land.
But it didn’t end there. The few abutting neighbors weren’t happy. They wanted the 5 acres to be a community park and they fought to overrule the project. We organized another neighborhood meeting and guided them through the project step-by-step.
With permits and financing approved, the micro hospital is optimistic to be open before 2020 ends. Over 35,000 residents are ecstatic to have 24/7 acute medical care at their doorstep.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now?
Yes, I love a listing ADCRE has in Old Town Scottsdale. It’s a 38,000 square foot iconic venue that used to host some of the best bands around. How do you think that will help people?
The property happens to be in an opportunity zone — and because of zoning changes, it’s ripe for redevelopment. Now a tired icon will transform into another iconic development project that complements what residents and tourists want in that area of town.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Understand your obstacles and let it go. Our sex doesn’t determine our success in life or business. Know and own your internal power. And go get ‘em!
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Be kind. Lay out an executable plan. Manage your team like you would your family — with compassion.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Pat Sheahan, designated broker and educator. It was April 1st and I received a call.
“Ma’am, this is Mr ’X’. I’m with the Arizona Department of Real Estate. We will be at your office April 8th for an official audit.”
My response, “You’re kidding right? My husband (a prankster) put you up to this, didn’t he?”
“No, ma’am, I am with the Department of Real Estate and you have an audit scheduled for next week, April 8th.”
I continue, “Oh, you’re good. But I know you’re joking. Afterall, it’s April Fools Day. Come on, you’re busted. I got you.”
“Ma’am,” his voice is stern. “I suggest you mark your calendar and call the AZDRE to verify my employment. We will be at your office April 8th ready or not.” Click.
Woops! I called Pat immediately and asked him what I needed to do to be Arizona compliant for the pending audit. My nerves were on edge. I had moved my office the week before and barely had my computer up and running. Pat graciously walked me through the process after numerous calls.
When I have legal or complicated CRE questions, Pat always finds time to help me find answers. I am blessed for his mentorship and friendship.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
One of my greatest joys is to mentor newcomers in the business and watch them flourish. Some have consequently opened their own company.
Additionally, our philanthropic partner is 200 Orphanages Worldwide. Last year we spearheaded a clean well for orphans in Tanzania. They now have fresh running water! 20 percent of the proceeds from my book, SimpLEASEity™, goes to 200 Orphanages.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
I would do away with the lists under each lesson and provide a brief story on why each is important.
- There’s always someone who knows more than you; hire them. Marketing was consuming exorbitant amounts of time I needed to close deals and grow my business. The thought of learning the ins and outs of new technology such as social media and digital marketing took my breath away. So, I learned enough about it to hire experts who thrive in these areas. By hiring experts for digital branding and marketing, my funnel of business remains full and I focus on what you do best — closing transactions. My marketing team helps my company shine and our business has tripled.
- Strategize, plan and execute. When I decided to brand my business, I met with a business advisor and we strategized how to implement the company vision. Then we laid out a plan step by step. Over the last three years we executed the action plan and modified it when necessary. Each year the company has met or exceeded our expectations.
- Wisdom isn’t bought in a bottle. Keep your wealth close to your breast. A young client was asked for proof of funds to buy a commercial building. He obliged and handed over his bank balance statement, which was a staggering number, way above what we offered for the building. I returned the bank balance and said, “We’re not showing that to anyone. Poof of funds means showing you have enough money to pay what was offered for the building and no more. Otherwise, we lose our negotiation power.”
- At the risk of sounding like your mother, pay to have your shirts pressed and clean under your nails. A bright young sales agent said all the right things and had the answers yet he wasn’t able to put together a book of business. His one down fall was that he always looked like he’d slept in his attire. I gently suggested that if he didn’t know how to iron a shirt, maybe he should send them to the dry cleaner. His new image painted a totally new picture and his business quickly took a turn for the financial best.
- Trust is for suckers; until its earned. You’ve been duped — learn from it and get over it. We’ve all been there before. The buyer’s purchase offer was submitted to the listing broker and they wouldn’t respond to multiple inquires for a seller response in a timely manner. Other than to say that the offer was under consideration. Numerous calls finally got a response. “Another offer came in and was accepted by the seller. I’m sorry there’s nothing we could do.” As it turns out the seller’s broker had generated an offer without another broker and used your offer to get their client to commit, thus netting both sides of the commission. Sometimes there’s nothing as the buyer’s broker that can be done about this, yet if unfair play is suspected, one can always call the listing firms designated broker and state your case.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
The underprivileged and homeless pull at my heart strings. I’d love to see sustainable communities built around the country to inspire those less fortunate to have faith, keep learning and thrive. Newly created opportunity zones may help with this if humans can bypass the greed factor. You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Can you please give us your favorite. “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Time is our greatest commodity. We never know how much time we have on earth to accomplish our mission. Use it wisely and be grateful.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
President Donald Trump. Understandably, controversy surrounds our President, and I’d like to make my own assessment. Firsthand. Not based on media or friends or family. A coffee would be great, on me!