Bryan Savage has spent the last six years using marketing strategies to help his real estate clients with site selection and investment, using their wants and needs −as well as the wants and needs of their customers or target audience− as a guide.
With almost two decades of experience working with Fortune 100 and 500 companies such as Bank One/Chase, American Electric Power and Victoria’s Secret, the owner of Savage Real Estate has a deep well of expertise, making him an ideal candidate for our “Frequently Asked Questions” feature.
Herewith, Savage shares the inquiries he gets most− and his answers, of course.
1. You’re a real estate broker and marketing/strategy consultant. What hat do you tend to wear most?
I have only been on the sales side of real estate for about six years and just recently obtained my broker’s license. However, I have over 19 years experience in market research, strategy, competitive intelligence and brand development. So I try to wear both hats while working with clients, but my consulting hat seems to win most often.
I try to use my knowledge to help my real estate clients better position their properties among the hundreds of available properties in the market by the unique colors in my signage, as well as the marketing package I use for their properties. I also represent tenants, which are about 70 percent of my business, and use my consulting experiences to help them target specific sites for their business based on understanding their and their clients’ wants and needs.
I have lent a hand in writing business plans, brand development, menu layout and offerings, as well as finding them a site for their restaurant, coffee shop, or bar. If we are lucky, it may only take a few weeks to find something. I have worked with clients for more than two years and we still have not found the right space for their concept.
One of those clients is a former Ohio State football player who is partnering with some friends to open a healthy restaurant concept, but they need to be on campus and there are not many spaces available at the present time. Additionally, I just finished a few marketing projects where I helped to build a brand strategy, as well as a sales strategy, for a consumer packaged goods company.
2. It looks like your client list is a diverse mix of small and medium companies locally and nationally based. Who finds who?
I like working on different projects, and am typically referred by current and prior clients for projects. I also partner with a few organizations that have a national client base. Many of my clients are in the food services industry, which is a market that I have been working in for about seven years.
They come from all walks of life, but many are starting over after being laid off or becoming frustrated with their corporate position. These types of businesses typically do not have the resources or expertise to help them identify consumer behaviors and/or demographics of specific markets. They are focused on other aspects of building their business. These are areas where I excel and can offer my services.
Additionally, I partner with a local non profit organization that offers assistance with business classes as well as financial lending to many small and medium businesses. I use to consult with them prior to getting into real estate, so we tend to work well together.
3. It sounds like you do more than a traditional Realtor would do. Why is that?
I guess it is my nature. I am so used to being the guy behind the glass listening to consumer opinions about products and services that it is a part of me and a benefit that I can offer to my clients. You could call it a more holistic approach to where I try to understand what my client is trying to accomplish and then devise a strategy to get them there.
I feel that if I cannot understand my client as well as their client, I will misdirect them in suggesting the wrong property for their needs or the wrong consulting strategy. Most Realtors have an understanding of what their client is looking for, but, from a commercial standpoint, do not tend to take it to the next level and understand their client’s client.
I also am a good networker and have built a professional relationship with groups of folks who can offer assistance to my clients, such as the three “As”− attorneys, accountants, architects, as well as helping them navigate through the building and zoning department and other government entities such as the Petroleum Board and the Bureau of Underground Storage.
Many of my clients are using their own finances or financial support from investors. I want to make sure that they do not have to spend this money on things that I can help them obtain the information. I also help my restaurant and bar clients with public relations when they are ready to open. This is where my consulting background comes into play.
4. What are some of the trends you are seeing in the Columbus market?
There are some really cool concepts coming to Columbus, as well as some national brands that were in Columbus and are trying to make a comeback. One of the trendy concepts is the gastropub. This concept takes the look of higher end restaurants and bars to the extreme. They focus on having great food and drinks in unique settings.
There are a few that have opened in the past few months, but there is one in the Brewery District that is in the construction stage and should be opening around June that will incorporate the true essence of the gastropub. The bar should have around 40 to 50 micro/craft beers on tap, as well as a nice wine selection and an eclectic menu.
Some other trends also revolve around a bar, but focus on bringing people together. I cannot tell you any more, but I think it’s a really cool and unique concept that is growing in other countries and should be a big hit in this market as well. We are currently working on a site and hope to hear soon.
Columbus is a great market for local restaurant startups. One of my clients recently opened a restaurant after having spent the majority of his professional career as executive chef with Barcelona Restaurant. He and his wife opened Hae-Paul’s in the downtown district and have a nice mix of American and Korean menu items.
The Asian influence has been a driver in many of the new restaurants opening in this market and nationally. I also have a client who opened a restaurant that incorporates Asian and Southern fare. Fusion Fire Grill opened in Whitehall and is fusing the two cuisines in a nice fast-casual environment utilizing the Chipotle and Piada concept.
See, my consulting hat never takes a break. Columbus is a great market to test new concepts because of the diverse background of its residences. It is a lot of fun and very rewarding for me to sit in one of my clients’ restaurants and hear what the customers are saying about their experience, especially if it is positive. If it is not, then that is where the consulting hat comes into play.
To learn more about Savage Real Estate, visit SavageRealEstate.biz.