This Is Why Excel Is a CRE Dealmaking Disaster
When you’re putting together deals, where do you turn for market insights?
If you’re like most commercial real estate (CRE) brokers, you dig through multiple Excel spreadsheets to find the proprietary information you’ve compiled over your career — COMP data, lease expirations, contact details, and more.
But those spreadsheets often impose unseen limitations.
Just ask Michael Brondello, an independent Salesforce consultant who recently helped The Whinery Group at Marcus & Millichap replace spreadsheets and paper notes with Rethink.
“Most people in this space use Excel, and it blows their mind when they see what a solid platform can do,” he said.
And CRE isn’t the only industry that’s starting to realize Excel doesn’t address modern challenges. According to The Wall Street Journal, CFOs in multiple industries have become wary of the dangers of Excel.
“Finance chiefs say the ubiquitous spreadsheet software that revolutionized accounting in the 1980s hasn’t kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units. Errors can bloom because data in Excel is separated from other systems and isn’t automatically updated.”
Errors like those mentioned above can be particularly troublesome for brokers … and some studies show as many as 80% of spreadsheets contain significant errors.
But even in the unlikely event your spreadsheets are 100% error-free, the point remains: Excel isn’t built to manage the CRE dealmaking process.
Below, we’ll explain why … and discuss the benefits of investing in more innovative technology.
Inability to connect the dots
Brokers have to understand the relationship between tons of moving parts to put together the right deals for their clients.
Excel makes that process unnecessarily complex.
“You can’t show or capture the relationship between a property and how it moves between sellers and buyers when you’re just in a standard table,” Michael Brondello explained.
Brokers often try to overcome this issue by manually making the connections — opening multiple spreadsheets and mentally compiling the information to see the full picture.
But this method is frustrating and time-consuming.
It’s often difficult to remember which files contains which data, and if you need to access information that’s stored in more than two or three spreadsheets, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
How many open spreadsheets is too many? Asking for a friend #excelproblems
— Natasha Bailey (@natashaabailey) April 2, 2019
To simplify the process of finding information in Excel, some brokers try to keep all their data in a single spreadsheet.
On the surface, this makes sense.
After all, having a central database makes it easier to find the information you need, right?
Unfortunately, storing the massive amounts of data around contacts, companies, and properties in a single spreadsheet makes it nearly impossible to navigate.
“Even when you’re capturing standard demographic information about a contact, you have to add a separate column for each piece of information,” Michael said. “But now, you’re looking at an Excel sheet where you have to scroll 50 pages to the right to try and capture everything.”
The other problem arises when people try to avoid excessive scrolling by capturing multiple data points in a single cell.
“As soon as you do that, you’re jeopardizing the integrity of the data because now you can’t easily find the information you need,” Michael explained.
And even if you can find the information buried in a single cell, Excel makes that data unnecessarily difficult to transfer.
Apparently #Excel silently truncates strings over 255 chars when pasting multiple cells from the clipboard. Who knew? Thankfully we have a backup of the data…#DataScience #DataScienceProblems #ExcelProblems#FridayAfternoonFires
— David Ciani (@davidciani) November 30, 2018
As if navigation problems weren’t bad enough, Excel files storing too much data also tend to crash at the worst possible time.
Excel be like, “Oh, this user is preparing an urgent report. It’s time to freeze up.” #ExcelProblems
— zamae ✨ (@jezzamsd) May 9, 2019
How Rethink can help
Rethink is a client relationship management (CRM) and PropTech solution designed specifically to manage the CRE dealmaking process.
And those who have made the switch from Excel to Rethink rave about the improved user experience.
“It’s such a clear difference,” Michael said, after helping The Whinery Group at Marcus & Millichap transition to Rethink. “I can’t even imagine how broken it would feel at this point to use Excel because the way we use Rethink is just so intuitive.”
Here’s how it works:
Rethink stores all of the data and insights you need to close deals, including information on:
- Past conversations
- And more
And because the data stored in Rethink is connected in a single platform, it gives you the context you need to see the full picture.
“You can relate objects to each other, so a company can own properties and a property can have a proposal attached to it,” Michael said. “You just can’t do that with a standard table.”
Why does that matter?
“Let’s say there’s a client who owns a property, and you’re issuing a proposal on that property,” Michael said. “The way Rethink works is you have a record for the contact that’s related to the record for that property, so when you create a proposal, it’s linked to both the contact and the property.
“Then, anytime you go to that contact’s page, you can see the property information and the proposal information right there.
“After you submit the proposal, let’s say they want to go ahead and sell that building. Now, you can hit a button and create a listing based on the information already stored in your proposal,” Michael explained.
Put simply: Rethink simplifies and automates time-consuming, cumbersome tasks, so you can focus on what matters most: closing more deals.