Canadian Commercial Real Estate

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Canadian Commercial Real Estate Trends

Innovation in coworking spaces and a shift to downtown are the key trends in the Canadian commercial real estate industry.

Innovation in Coworking Spaces

  • Demand for coworking space is likely to continue growing as a trend in the Canadian commercial real estate market, according to a CBRE Canada report.
  • As the trend grows, it is expected that coworking space developers will leverage customer data to provide their services as well as to facilitate daily operations through technology and analytics solutions.
  • According to the CBRE outlook, the growth of the trend in Canada can be attributed to the expansion of the technology sector (including incubators and startups) with a preference for coworking spaces.
  • Regus and WeWork are on the forefront of the coworking trend. However, they are facing competition from new entrants such as Hana.
  • According to a report by PwC Canada, many commercial real estate players are choosing to either work with the major players or emulating them.

Shift to Downtown

  • According to the CBRE report, demand for downtown office space in Canada is another trend in the commercial real estate market.
  • According to a survey by PwC Canada, downtown commercial properties were rated "fifth for development prospects in 2020."
  • According to CBRE, the trend is being driven by what it refers to as "flight-to-quality" movements. This is a preference for next-generation amenities and layouts that would enable businesses to implement their “workplace of the future” strategies.
  • As a result of the trend, new downtown office buildings have started crawling up in Canada, with one already in construction in Saskatoon and the other expected in Winnipeg.
  • The main companies driving the trend would be Triovest and True North Real Estate Ltd, which are responsible for the Saskatoon and Winnipeg projects, respectively.


The outlined trends were considered trends because they have identified as trends by leading real estate authorities in Canada including CBRE Canada and leading research authorities such as PwC.
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Canadian Commercial Real Estate Outlook

The various segments in the commercial real estate market in Canada will see differing rates of growth in upcoming years. Growth will also fluctuate when regions are analyzed separately and some regions show promising growth prospects as compared to others. Further details surrounding the commercial real estate market in Canada are given below.

Office Market

  • In the office segment in the commercial real estate market, business incentives and supportive immigration policies will help Canada in maintaining a competitive position throughout the global market. This, in turn, will enhance market fundamentals even further.
  • Vancouver and Toronto are facing "unprecedented demand" in the office space and will continue to do so. As per estimates, Vancouver developers will add 4 million square feet of office space, while Toronto will add about 11 million square feet of the same.
  • Coworking space has seen a growth of 303% during the last 5 years in Canada and this trend is here to stay. Office leasing is being dominated by companies that offer flexible office spaces.
  • Flexible office space occupied an area of 1.5 million square feet in 2014, which increased to 6.1 million square feet in 2019. This is further projected to grow by another 1.3 million square feet in the upcoming years. Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal are the places to watch for expansion in this segment, which represent 78% of all flexible office space throughout the country.

Retail Market

  • In the retail segment of the commercial real estate market, retailers have been performing well in Canada's metropolitan cities. CoStar’s head of market analytics, Roelof van Dijk, said, "We’ve seen a lot of new retailers come to the market over the last few years, taking up a lot of space."
  • As per van Dijk, major Canadian urban markets experienced a vacancy of 3%. That said, most of that growth has come from Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, while Calgary has been lacking behind.

Industrial Market

  • Due to the boom of e-commerce, other tech industries, and the associated demand in logistics operations, the demand for space has risen and so has investment in the industrial segment of the commercial real estate market in Canada.
  • “If you look at Vancouver, (they have) exceptionally-low vacancy rates,” van Dijk said. “If you look at Toronto, you’re at similar vacancy rates territory. They’re both about 1.5-2% on the higher end, depending on what area of the city you’re looking at.”
  • The demand for space has been rising, however, there's no territory left to fulfill that demand in Vancouver as well as in Toronto. This is due to the fact that Vancouver is surrounded by mountains, the Agricultural Land Reserve, and water, while Toronto is sandwiched between the Greenbelt and Lake Ontario.
  • Shifting consumer preferences and increased omnichannel operations by distributors and retailers across Canada, the industrial segment of commercial real estate will be significantly impacted by demand for transportation, warehousing, and logistics space.

Overall Commercial Real Estate

  • The commercial real estate in Canada saw a drop of 70% in the first six months of the current year due to a lack of large portfolios being sold.
  • Flexible real estate will "continue to grow and mature" in the upcoming years.
  • Proptech is the new trend in the industry and it is something to watch out for. With a growing appetite for data and analytics, drones, autonomous vehicles, robotics, 3D modeling and printing, and Virtual Reality will see increased usage in commercial real estate.
  • Political concerns, costs, and regulation are some of the most pressing issues in real estate. These also vary by region across Canada.
  • Retail was ranked near the bottom of the list of growing market segments in commercial real estate, while office buildings have a good prospect for growth in 2020. Warehousing and fulfillment was ranked the top sector in terms of growth prospects in 2020.
  • Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Montreal, Saskatoon, Quebec City, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Calgary were named as the top markets to watch in terms of growth prospects in commercial real estate in 2020.

Research Strategy

In an effort to analyze the growth outlook for the commercial real estate segment in Canada, we have gathered relevant information from industry publications, research reports, and news and media articles. We have identified potential patterns of growth pertaining to the different regions in the country while also including potential opportunities and threats that the country and/or the industry should address.
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Canadian Commercial Real Estate Competitive Landscape, Part 1

Rows 3-7, columns C-D in the Sheet 1 tab of the attached spreadsheet have been completed. CRBE began operations in 1983. The head office for the company is in Toronto. The company provides occupier services such as commercial real estate management of facilities and relocation. Shindico has been a market leader in commercial real estate in Canada since 1975. Shindico's services include commercial real estate asset management, brokerage, and tenant representation. The head office for the company is in Winnipeg. Detailed information is in the next section.


A Brief Overview of the Company's Canadian Operations

Competitive Advantage

Key Customers

The Target Market

  • The company's target industries and specialties are hotels, retail clients such as restaurateurs and retailers, senior housing, office clients, nonprofit organizations, multifamily clients ranging from small private investors to large public entities, and industrial & logistics clients.
  • CRBE operates in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Quebec.


A Brief Overview of the Company's Canadian Operations

Competitive Advantage

Key Customers

The Target Market

Research Strategy

To provide a competitive analysis of CRBE and Shindico, our strategy was to search for relevant information on the official websites for the two companies, industry databases, and news reports. This strategy was successful as we found all the required information. We used case studies and testimonials featured on the websites to find current or recent customers. We chose those that were referred to as major or key customers by the companies.

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Canadian Commercial Real Estate Competitive Landscape, Part 2

Cushman & Wakefield targets clients in the commercial real estate sector, investment real estate sector, tenant representation sector, and industrial real estate sector. Colliers International targets real estate occupiers, owners, and investors and Avision Young targets clients ranging from leading multinational investors and occupiers to smaller firms and sole proprietorships. We have provided the requested information in the attached spreadsheet.

Key findings

  • Cushman & Wakefield Edmonton is a premier commercial real estate brokerage based in Edmonton Alberta. The company's services include commercial real estate, investment real estate, tenant representation, Industrial real estate, retail Properties, and landlord representation.
  • Cushman & Wakefield's key customers include Aareal Bank, Bluesky Hotels & Resorts and Fairmont Empress Hotel
  • Colliers International is a leading global real estate service and investment management company. The company provides expert advice and services to real estate occupiers, owners, and investors. Colliers is based in Toronto, Ontario.
  • Avison Young is a commercial real estate services firm. The company provides value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management and financing services to clients across the office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hospitality sectors.
  • Avison is headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

Research strategy

To provide a competitive analysis of Cushman & Wakefield, Colliers International and Avision Young, our strategy was to search for relevant information on the official websites for the three companies, industry databases, and news reports. This strategy was successful as we found all the required information. We used case studies and testimonials featured on the websites to find current or recent customers. We chose those that were reffered to as major or key customers by the companies.
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Owner / Operator Demographics

After extensively researching industry statistic databases, the commercial real estate industry, and industry websites, details about the demographics of small and medium size business owners that own commercial real estate in Canada does not appear to be available. The research team was able to find information about larger companies, but they did not specify demographics. In addition, these sources often included information about the commercial real estate industry in North America as a whole. Below is an outline of the research strategies to identify why the information requested is not publicly available.

Small and Medium Size Canadian Businesses

  • There are over 1 million small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.
  • 99.8% of all business in Canada are considered small or medium-sized companies
  • Less than 2% of all business in Canada considered medium-sized.
  • 39% of all entrepreneurs in Canada are women.
  • Only 51% of companies make it to their fifth year.
  • Individuals from outside of country are twice as likely to start a business in Canada compared to Canadians.

Research Strategy

The research team first directly searched various commercial real estate databases, such as the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, in order to gather insights on the typical business owner/renter of commercial real estate property. These databases contained information on the growth of commercial real estate, but not the demographics of its owners/renters.

Next, the team focused on finding information specifically on demographics of Canadian business owners in hopes that it would lead to statistics on the business owners' real estate. The team found statistics that may explain why this information is unavailable from the Business Development Bank of Canada website. For example, medium-sized businesses account for less than 2% of all the business in Canada, therefore, there may be little to no information on these companies available online. Most of the business Canada are small and likely private companies, they are not likely to publish personal information about their owners. In addition, about 50% of new small businesses don't make it to their fifth year making less likely to find updated information about their companies online.

During their extensive research, the team found that women account for 39% of all entrepreneurs. Therefore, it can be assumed that the number of female business owners that own/rent real estate in Canada is close to that number. The team then consulted an extensive case study done by the Business Development Bank of Canada, A Nation of Entrepreneurs: The Changing Face of Canadian Entrepreneurship, which provides statistics about the entrepreneurs in Canada. However, this study only stated that most new entrepreneurs are millennials and highly educated. It can be inferred that most new Canadian small and medium size business owners are between the age of 24 and 34 and are highly educated. To wrap up, the research team was unable to find sufficient demographic information for the typical business owner that rents or owns at least one real estate property in Canada.
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Owner / Operator Psychographics

There is no direct information available in the public domain that provides psychographic profile of business owners in Canada that own or rent commercial real estate property. However, logically most business owners either rent or own commercial real estate such as office space, small stores, restaurants, doctor or dentist offices, and veterinary clinics. Habits, hobbies and social media habits of commercial real estate investors and Canadian real estate property owners include knowing the market, staying educated and seeking help. Their hobbies include travel, sports and spending time with friends, while their social media habits involve using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to increase brand awareness.

General Sentiment

  • According to a study, "Going it Alone: The mental health and well-being of Canada’s entrepreneurs, found that 62 per cent of Canada’s entrepreneurs feel depressed at least once a week."
  • Almost half (46%) of those surveyed stated "mental health issues interfere with their ability to work."
  • "One in five (21%) entrepreneurs feel satisfied with their mental health less than once a week, compared to the general population, eight per cent of Canadians perceive their mental health as poor or fair."
  • A very recent CIBC Business Survey of 1,005 business owners across Canada revealed "that four-in-10 (39 per cent) have taken little or no vacation time in 2019 and life for many has become more stressful with less leisure time since starting a business."
  • Of the business owners surveyed, "61 per cent feel their present stress levels are much higher" than in previous years.
  • Also, 60 per cent struggle to get time off from work when needed.


  • Effective real estate investors and owners keep abreast of current trends including any changes in consumer spending habits, mortgage rates, and the unemployment rate, to name a few. This enables them to predict when trends may change, creating potential opportunities for the prepared investor.
  • According to Infographics Report of 2019, 84% of Canadians shopped online. 58% spent their money on clothing, jewelry and accessories, 50% spent it on travel and 46% on tickets for entertainment events. This kind of data will encourage new entrants into commercial real estate to invest in those markets.
  • Effective real estate investors often attribute part of their success to others, whether it's a mentor, lawyer, or supportive friend. It is worth the additional costs (in terms of money and ego) to embrace other people's expertise.
  • Daniel Labossière, a BDC Assistant Vice President in Winnipeg says, "Your circle of advisors can guide you and help protect you against liabilities and unforeseen expenses. The circle of advisors typically include an accountant, a lawyer, a banker and a commercial real estate agent.
  • Interestingly, in 2018, "77 per cent of small businesses with 10 employees or less played background music, but only 11 per cent paid the fees to broadcast publicly." Ignorance is to blame as "82 per cent of the businesses surveyed said they had no idea they had to pay rights for public broadcast."


  • According to the Business Survey of 1,005 business owners across the country, 54% have given up most hobbies and extra-curricular activities.
  • If they had additional time away from work, 52% would consider traveling, 38% would be socializing with friends and family, 35% would pursue a passion, 34% would exercise or play sports, 28% would prefer getting more rest, and 26% would be relaxing or meditating.

Social Media Habits

  • Commercial real estate owners, like the general population, use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • They leverage these outlets to attract tenants by employing drone photography on Instagram, leveraging influencer marketing, using Instagram live, publishing on LinkedIn and doing hashtags research among many others. Forward-thinking building owners and developers use Instagram to attract increasingly tech-savvy workforce and residents.
  • Hamilton’s Erwin Sze, a top Canadian influencer has a total of 2,066 followers on his socials. He uses his podcast, 'The Truth about Real Estate Investing Canada' to attract potential investors.

Research Strategy

Research included multiple credible publications, articles and reports directly looking for psychographic type information for business owners in Canada that own or rent their own property. Since the variety of commercial real estate owned or rented by business greatly varies, it was not possible to identify the pychographic profile of these business owners in general. It was only possible to draw the conclusion that the majority of business owners or operator in Canada rent or own at least one commercial real estate property. Thus, we were able to find information on the general habits of successful real estate property business owners as highlighted by Investopedia and found data on hobbies and sentiments of general business owners in Canada. Finally, we identified general ways to leverage social media in commercial real estate and mentioned how some top Canadian social media influencers market themselves and other commercial real estate companies.

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CEO Demographics

The typical Canadian CEO that rents or owns commercial real estate properties is a white male in their late forties to early sixties residing in Canada. Their average annual salary is around $8.3 million, while their average age is 56. All the identified CEOs were male, and our analysis did not uncover any female CEOs. Insights regarding CEOs with multiple commercial locations across Canada are available below, along with a demographic analysis including age, gender, income, race, location, and level of education.

CEOs Of Top Companies Demographics

Brian Hannasch

  • Brian Hannasch is the CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard (Circle K) and was named Convenience Store News 2019 Retailer Executive of the Year. He began attending Iowa State University in 1985, and he is likely around 52 years old.
  • His highest level of education is a Masters of Business Administration Degree. His annual compensation is reportedly around $8.8 million. He resides in Indiana.

Galen Weston

  • Galen Weston is CEO of George Weston, the largest operator of food and drug stores in Canada. His highest level of education is a Masters of Business Administration.

Michael Medline

Domenic Pilla

  • Domenic Pilla is the CEO McKesson Canada, the parent company of Rexall Pharmacies with 11 chains and 2,234 locations throughout the country.
  • He lives in Quebec. His annual salary is unavailable for McKesson. He has a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering.

Stephen Wetmore

Eric R. La Fleche

Kevin Macnab

  • Kevin Macnab is the CEO of Home Hardware Stores, a hardware conglomerate with four chains and 1,069 locations throughout Canada. On LinkedIn, his location is listed as Canada. His annual revenue is not publicly disclosed, nor does he list his educational details on LinkedIn.
  • Additionally, he does not appear to have a Facebook page.

Donald J. Walker



  • CEOs of companies with multiple commercial real estate spaces ranged from their late forties to their early sixties. The average age of the CEOs is 55.8 years old.


  • The CEOs of companies with commercial real estate spaces are primarily male, and we did not uncover any women CEOs in our examination of the top companies by number of commercial locations.


  • The majority of CEOs of companies that have commercial real estate hold a Masters of Bachelor Administration Degree. CEOs with a Bachelor's Degree were minimal, and none held less than a Bachelor's.

Income Level

  • On average, the CEOs of companies with many commercial real estate spaces earn around $8.3 million. Their annual salaries range from $3,691,442 to $20,761,000.


  • CEOs of companies with many commercial real estate spaces mostly reside in Toronto, Quebec, and Ontario. One identified as living in the US.


  • All the identified CEOs were white.


First, we located sources that provided the top commercial retailers with the most commercial spaces throughout the country. We examined the LinkedIn, Facebook, and Bloomberg profiles of the companies' CEOs to obtain demographic information such as age, gender, education, and income level. We also consulted company biographies where available. In some cases where age was not available, we based an estimate from their education timeline with the assumption that they were around 18 when they started college. We provided a short synopsis of the eight CEOs we identified as having multiple locations in the country and constructed our profile from those individuals.

We calculated the average income as (8.8+5+5.5+6.8+3.7+20)/6 = $8.3 million.

We calculated the average age as (52+46+56+63+56+62)/6 = 55.8 years.

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CEO Psychographics

CEOs of Commercial Real Estate companies in Canada are individuals who, through hard work, became self-made successes. They tend to engage in sports, especially those common to Canada. They use social media to promote their people and companies. And, they value philanthropy and promoting women in the industry.



Social Media Habits

  • LinkedIn is very popular among CRE CEOs. Many use their LinkedIn accounts to announce news about their company, people, or special events.
  • Fewer have Twitter accounts, but those CRE CEOs who do, use it for the same purpose as their LinkedIn accounts.


Research Strategy

Our team first identified some Commercial Real Estate companies based in Canada and then determined who their CEOs were. Once we had a list of CEOs, we next searched news, press releases, and each of their company websites to locate information useful for building a psychographic profile of the typical CRE CEO. We spent time seeing important commonalities in their character and values. We also searched for the social media accounts of the CEOs we were analyzing.
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Head of Leasing / Development Demographic Profile

After an exhaustive search through credible sources, it appears that there is not sufficient information in the public domain to provide a demographic profile of the typical Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing. Nonetheless, the average salary of person holding Head Of Development title in Canada is $137,500 per year.

Useful Insights

  • The average annual salary of a person holding the Head Of Development title in Canada is approximately $137,500.
  • The average annual salary of the Head Of Development for entry level positions begins at about $79,346. Meanwhile, the majority of experienced employees generate around $162,500.

Education Level of Some Head of Development Employees

  • At Starlight Investments, Josh Kaufman is the Head of Development & Construction (Canadian Multi-Family). He holds a Masters in City and Regional Planning.

Additional insights

  • More than two-thirds (64.9%) of management positions in Canada are held by men compared to 35.1% for women.

Research Strategy:

Our research began by searching for survey reports on Canadian real estate employees. We searched for information on sites like Real PAC, the Canadian Real Estate Association, and the Real Estate Institute of Canada, among others. We aimed to find research reports on the various employee levels in the Canadian real estate market, including the Head of Leasing/Development. With this strategy, we found a survey report that included demographic information for the position. However, the entire report was behind a paywall. We believed this strategy would work as these sites focus on the real estate market in Canada and could have published relevant information.

Next, we consulted government databases that publish information on employment in Canada, including sites like Statistics Canada. This strategy was not fruitful as there was not sufficient information to compile a profile on the Head of Leasing/Development. We believed this strategy would work as sites like Statistics Canada offer economic, social, and census data, etc. We only found information on gender diversity and inclusion employment in Canada, and there were no details on the demographics for the specified position.

Afterward, we searched for scholarly research articles discussing this topic on sites like Research Gate, Academia, Wharton, etc. However, this strategy did not provide the requested information. I had looked into these sites as they provide various studies that include surveys of a sample population. Hence, we believed that we could use such research papers if they contained data on demographics for the Head of Leasing/Development.

Finally, we explored for media publications and articles on the real estate/leasing industry in Canada on sites like Canadian Real Estate Magazine, Better Dwelling, and Real Estate Magazine. We aimed to look for comments by industry experts and research publications to devise such information. However, this strategy did not provide any useful information. We believed this strategy would work as these sites typically publish details about news, market updates, and market reports on the real estate market in Canada and could have published relevant information.

Due to the lack of available data, we were unable to provide a demographic profile of the typical Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing.
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Head of Leasing / Development Psychographic Profile

After an exhaustive search through credible sources, it appears that there is not sufficient information on the habits, hobbies, spending habits, and values of the typical Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing is unavailable in the public domain. Nevertheless, the typical Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing shows interest in Real Estate News Exchange.


  • Alanna Cantkier, the national director at Retail Leasing, is interested in Roots, Bayleys Real Estate, Colliers International, Loblaw Companies Limited, Franchise Executives, Canadian Franchise Association, Real Estate News Exchange, and Retail Insider, among others.
  • Ashley Burke is the director of planning and development at GWL Realty Advisors, and her interests include Colliers International, GWL Realty Advisors, Dream Unlimited, RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, CREW Network, and Real Estate News Exchange, among others.
  • Carlo Timpano served as the vice president of real estate development at the Oxford Property Group, and he shows interest in Real Estate News Exchange.
  • Scott Caverley is the vice president of leasing at Fengate Asset Management, and he has keen interests in JLL, Prologis, PGA TOUR, Tim Hortons, HFF, Cadillac Fairview, Urban Land Institute, Oxford Properties Group, CCIM Institute, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
  • Scott Caverley is also interested in the Canadian Real Estate Investment Trust, RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, BDC, Canadian Tire Corporation, and RICS, among others.

Social Media Habits

  • On Twitter, Alanna Cantkier, the national director at Retail Leasing, mentioned that her passions include health and fashion, retail real estate, urban retail development, fitness, and commercial and residential mortgages.
  • Alanna Cantkier is also seen posting tweets via @RetailMeNot and is very active on Twitter.
  • On his Twitter profile, Carlo Timpano, the vice president of real estate development at the Oxford Property Group, describes himself as a management consultant, fiscal conservative, social uber-liberal, atheist, pessimist. He also mentions that he has an MBA from Harvard.
  • Carlo Timpano is not very active on Twitter, and his last post was in 2015.

Research Strategy:

Our research began by scouring through industry reports and surveys from Manulife, IBIS, and Pew Research, among others that generally conduct studies highlighting the psychographic details of individuals. However, these reports primarily focused on the trends, industry facts, and other unrelated information. There was nothing specific to the habits, hobbies, spending habits, and values of the typical Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing. Additionally, we scanned through case studies from HBR, WSJ, Stanford, among others to find evaluations centered on Canadians holding the title of Head of Leasing, but no such case study/report was available.

Next, we attempted to triangulate the information through calculation. For this, we scoured through groups/associations in Canada such as CREW, Real Estate News Exchange, Canadian Franchise Association, etc., to observe the types of people that join such groups, their habits, hobbies, spending habits, and values. However, no such information was available. The idea here was to examine the associations and their member profiles to gain insight on where they work and live, their assets, hobbies, active groups, among others. The sources merely addressed the Canadian real estate market conditions, prices, etc., but did not indulge in psychographic profiles.

Finally, we attempted another triangulation method. We wanted to check for the Head of Leasing across the globe and use the Canadians' share of mentions to offer an insight or source of information. For this, we looked through reports from Inside Self Storage, CCIM, and ICSC, among others. However, global information relevant to the specified topic was not available. Hence, due to lack of available data points, we were unable to triangulate the information.

Due to the limited availability of relevant information, we were unable to provide details on the habits, hobbies, spending habits, and values of the typical Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing. A probable reason for the lack of data could be the private and confidential nature of the requested information.

Therefore, to identify and provide an approximate overview on the interests and social media habits, we sampled four to five Canadians holding the title of Head of Leasing, or similar positions, and used their respective LinkedIn profiles to detail their interests. We also utilized their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram profiles to highlight their social media habits. Since their Facebook and Instagram profiles were mostly private and not available for public viewing, we focused on Twitter. We assumed that Head of Leasing/Development includes VPs, directors, and heads to provide a comprehensive overview and as the title may differ with companies.

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Owner / Operator CRE Journey

Details about the commercial real estate broker selection process do not appear to be available in the public domain after completing an extensive search through industry-related websites, real estate designations websites, and commercial real estate brokerages. The findings and research strategy below outline why the information is not publicly available in representation of the customer journey of a Canadian business owner operator who is selecting a commercial real estate broker.

Related Findings

  • Smaller tenants occupying commercial real estate usually request industrial space between 5,000 and 15,000 square feet, which is smaller than the current projected available buildings.
  • About 27% of small business owners request financing for debts, including a commercial real estate mortgage. Not selecting the right commercial real estate broker can cause an increase in the amount of financing costs required.
  • The approval rate for small business (1-99 employees) debt financing, including commercial real estate mortgages, was 83% in 2018.
  • Than Merrill, a large real estate investor, recommends that business owners secure a commercial real estate broker to protect their investment (Source 2).
  • Small business owners in exporting or innovation are more likely to seek debt financing, including commercial real estate, than small business owners not occupying the exporting or innovation industries (Source 3).

Our analysis began with a direct search for the typical processes completed by business owners in the search for commercial real estate. From this, we located common tips provided by companies and large investors. These provided more detail about the steps and necessity when deciding if or how to choose a commercial real estate broker, but they did not deep dive into the process from a business owner's perspective about the process they would usually take in selecting this type of professional. We then looked for surveys completed by Canadian business owners from on the experience of commercial real estate selection. Given the lack of available data from a small-mid size business owner's perspective, we thought this approach would provide opinions supplied by this group of business owners. This resulted in finding the type of business owners who typically secure debt financing, which consists of multiple types of debt including commercial real estate mortgages. Although not explicitly refined to commercial real estate, a small business may be likely to require debt financing in obtaining commercial real estate. To try to triangulate the opinion data of a Canadian business owner operator, we attempted to find statistics relating to the type of investor from CBRE. The idea was to gather statistics about commercial real estate, then find statistics on small business owner's holdings in certain types of commercial real estate. However, the statistics available only accounted for region, industry type, and investor origins.
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CEO Customer Journey

The customer journey for a Canadian CEO to select a commercial real estate broker consists of four different stages, including awareness, information search, negotiation or comparison, and decision making. More information regarding those stages is written below.

#1. Awareness of a Commercial Real Estate Broker Need

  • According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor, the employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to rise by approximately 11% in 2019 to 2022.
  • In the second quarter of 2018, the sales of commercial real estate reached $16.5 billion in Canada which is 38% higher than the first quarter of the previous year of 2017.
  • According to the report of CBRE’s Canada Quarterly Statistics in the second quarter of 2019, the industrial property market is considered very healthy.
  • The market of the office area is also considered to be good and healthy, according to the PwC Canada. A study conducted by JLL Research in the second quarter of 2015 also reported that the vacancy rate for office properties reached 10.5%.

#2. Information Search

  • Due to the technological revolution, Canadian CEOs may post recruitment advertising for free on employment and career sites, such as Wow Jobs and Indeed. From there, potential workers can apply to the company.
  • Before publishing the recruitment advertising, a Canadian CEO must also possess a deep understanding of the skills and experiences needed in a commercial real estate broker.
  • Although the job requirements of each commercial real estate broker from different companies may vary due to the budget and expertise, a commercial real estate broker applicant must complete the Broker Registration Education Program. Several colleges and universities in Canada also offer various programs related to real estate.
  • A commercial real estate broker should have a strong understanding of the property market, local economic trends, current income tax regulations, and purchasing arrangements. He/she also must be able to handle administrative jobs related to real estate documents, agreements, and lease records.
  • Soft skills, such as strong communication ability, active listening, social cues, negotiation ability, patience, and tactfulness, are also needed to become a successful commercial real estate broker.
  • To cope with the current system, a commercial real estate broker must possess a strong understanding of the usage of technology, including various social media platforms.

#3. Negotiation/Comparison

  • Every potential worker is required to send in a resume to the company he/she desires to work in, whereas a resume is important for a company to have a deeper understanding of the potential worker's skills and experience. A company may also compare the skills possessed by the applicants.
  • During a job interview, the CEO may also assess the soft skills and the characters of the potential commercial real estate brokers, including verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • Most of the real estate companies in Canada demand the potential commercial real estate broker possess a positive and professional attitude with a high degree of integrity, honesty, and ethics.

#4. Decision Making

  • Before finalizing a decision, an employer needs to fulfill the essential requirements of an employee according to Canadian law, including payroll account number, workplace safety, and insurance.
  • A Canadian CEO must first understand the classification and the medical condition of his/her employee before signing the employment contract.
  • Due to the anti-discrimination law in Canada, a CEO must not eliminate or reject applicants based on their "race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offenses, marital status, family status or disability".
  • Our research suggests that there is no definite explanation of how a Canadian CEO determines a commercial real estate broker. However, there might be several factors, including educational background, soft skills, and other relevant attributes, that have major roles in the decision making of a CEO, although the priority selection of these factors might be different according to each company's culture and policy.

Research Strategy

To determine the typical customer journey for a Canadian CEO when it comes to selecting a commercial real estate broker, we first reviewed the studies of customer journey mapping through reputable websites, including Nielsen Norman Group and CXL Institute. We found that these articles mostly covered the customer's journey to complete a purchase. Hence, our research team decided to slightly improvise the steps of the customer journey to fit the inquiry given. We concluded that there were four stages to create a customer journey for a Canadian CEO to select a commercial real estate broker, including awareness, information search, negotiation, and decision making.

Our first strategy was to find any precompiled information related to the customer journey for a CEO selecting a commercial real estate broker on trusted articles and news platforms, including Deloitte and UX Design. However, we didn't manage to collect any relevant information for these articles mainly covered the customer journey from the buyers' perspective instead of the CEO. Then we attempted to look for the related information through scientific literature platforms, including Science Open, NCBI, and PubMed. But, our strategy remained unsuccessful. For our last strategy, our research team tried to visit several official websites of Canadian real estate to find information about the process of hiring in the selected companies. The firms that we picked included The Canadian Real Estate Association, RE/MAX, Commercial Real Estate Services Canada, and Realtor. However, such information also didn't exist in these sites. After extensive research utilizing three different strategies, we concluded that precompiled information of a Canadian CEO's customer journey when it comes to picking a commercial real estate broker wasn't readily available or publicly accessible.

Then our research team attempted to find any information related to commercial real estate broker across Canada through articles, studies, and job boards from respected sources, including Investopedia and Kapre. The information that we collect from these sources included the skills, educational background, and attributes of a sought commercial real estate broker, as well as the tips to become a successful commercial real estate broker. Utilizing the insights collected from the aforementioned sources, we could have an understanding of what a Canadian CEO wanted in a commercial real estate broker to join his/her company with the assumption of these articles were written to increase the potential for a CEO to hire an applicant who follows those tips. Our strategy was proven to be successful in which we managed to gather relatable information to be added to our findings. However, we still couldn't find enough valuable information for the subcategories of Awareness and Decision Making.

To seek the missing information, we browsed through various expert blogs and marketing reports from reputable sources, such as Troy Media and PwC Canada. We also visited several Canada-based commercial real estate websites, including The Canadian Real Estate Association and RE/MAX, to collect information related to the general profile of the employee and/or employer. Our strategy was proven fruitful. We managed to collect quantitative and qualitative data to be added to our findings. But we still couldn't find enough valuable information to thoroughly explain how a Canadian CEO makes a hiring decision.

For our last strategy, we attempted to find employment regulations in Canada through government websites, such as the Ontario Real Estate Association and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Although our research team was able to find several valuable data to be added in this study, we still couldn't manage to find the direct factors of how a Canadian CEO finalizes his/her decision to hire a commercial real estate broker even after utilizing three different strategies. The unavailability of this information might be due to the privacy policy of the company and/or the different priority selection of each company.
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Head of Leasing / Development Customer Journey

Key features to look in, when selecting a commercial real estate broker according to a leading real estate firm of eastern Canada include unblemished reputation, performance history, established contact pool, market knowledge and access to data, and expertise area.


  • The best practice to select a commercial real estate broker is to identify the resources that can best fulfill the vendor, purchaser, landlord or tenant’s objective and then to select a commercial broker who has those resources and is willing to commit them with sufficient intensity to accomplish the assignment within the desired time and budgetary constraints.
  • Commercial real estate agents should have a successful track record, knowledge about the local market including properties that are not listed for sale, knowledge about the client's industry and requirements. Also, they should be able to guide and spend time throughout the purchase.
  • Nick Iozzo is one of the top 20 influencers of the Canadian real estate market. He is also the Director of Leasing at Cadillac Fairview and his social media accounts contain useful information on Toronto's real estate landscape.
  • Among the top blogs and websites that are actively working to educate and inspire their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information on Canada's real estate market, High Gate and CEPM are blogs specialized to guide readers including buyers and sellers of commercial properties.
  • Key tips to follow to select the best commercial real estate broker:
    • Do the research and create a set of guidelines that align with the requirements
    • Check the experience and knowledge of potential brokers
    • Know the brokers' staff
    • Check the knowledge about the industry
    • Ensure access to ideal tools to provide the best service
    • Check the potential brokers' credentials, educational qualifications, and certificates.
    • Ensure the commercial is loyal to the requirements
  • Resources that can help choose the best commercial broker include recommendations from fellow investors, investment associations, professional periodicals offline and online, as well as word of mouth from trusted colleagues.


An extensive search was carried out on credible media sources, research articles, websites, and blogs dedicated to the Canadian real estate industry. However, information regarding the typical customer journey for a Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing when it comes to selecting a commercial real estate broker couldn't be traced. The following strategies were deployed to identify the required data:

We commenced our research by looking for precompiled data regarding the said subject. PWC, Manulife, Deloitte, and GlobeNewsWire are some of the sources we looked into. While these sources provided data on the commercial real estate industry in general, we were unable to detect information on selecting a commercial real estate broker in Canada by a Head of Leasing.

Our next strategy was to bifurcate the customer journey into key aspects such as sources used to gather information while making a decision and chief attributes considered while looking for a commercial real estate broker. Credible media sources and press releases by leading commercial real estate service providers in Canada including Turner Drake & Partners and Marcus & Millichap, as well as websites and blogs of organizations/ foundations dedicated to this field such as Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) were examined. However, we were unable to locate the required data.

Subsequently, we proceeded to identify the popular influencer of the Canadian commercial real estate industry holding the title of Head of Leasing or Head of Development or Director of Leasing. The idea was to gather advice, information, and guidelines provided by him/her in selecting commercial real estate brokers which may help in building the customer journey. Nick Iozzo was identified as the Canadian real estate influencer. We examined his social media pages but nothing significant was found.

As our last resort, we expanded the research to a global level without limiting to Canada to find relevant information about the typical customer journey for a Canadian holding the title of Head of Leasing when it comes to selecting a commercial real estate broker. Esteemed sources such as Forbes, Deloitte, and ePubZone were utilized. Through this approach, we were only able to find the general guidelines for choosing the best broker and global level industry data.
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Business Culture, Retention, and Recruiting

Having a strong onboarding program is a best practice for improving employee retention, having a strong workplace culture is a best practice for both improving retention and hiring, and valuing employees is a best practice for improving workplace culture.

Onboarding and Orientation Improves Retention

  • According to Robert Half Canada, onboarding and orientation are two critical components to improve employee retention. While orientation tends to be a shorter process, onboarding can take months or more. Multiple experts stated that the onboarding process should last a minimum of 90 days, and that having it extend up to a year can be beneficial.
  • Sixty-nine percent of employees in one survey said that a great onboarding experience would result in them staying at a job for at least three years.
  • Glassdoor conducted research that found that employee retention can be improved by 82% if there is a great onboarding process.
  • One component of an effective onboarding process is to pair new employees with a seasoned employee, or mentor. Both employees can benefit from this relationship, as the new hire can learn the ropes from an established employee, and the mentor can get a different perspective on the company from someone looking at it with fresh eyes.
  • Buffer is one company that uses the buddy model as part of the onboarding process. The company actually has three different buddies, Leader Buddy, Role Buddy, and Culture Buddy.
  • Buffer calculated retention statistics and found that as of August 2018, they had a 94% retention rate, and a 5.8% turnover rate.
  • Another important component to the onboarding process is that it actually starts during the interview process, by ensuring that the potential employee is a good fit for the company, not only based on skills, but on company culture.
  • Onboarding is considered a best practice because it is recommended by multiple experts, including Robert Half, Sapling, and HRD Canada, and because there are hard statistics showing that great onboarding improves retention.

Strong Workplace Culture Improves Hiring and Retention

  • The head of HR at Microsoft Canada, Carolyn Byer, states that employees expectations of employers have gone up, and that company culture is a determining factor in where people choose to work. People want to work for a company that has the same values they do personally.
  • Ninety percent of Canadian managers surveyed said that "a candidate's fit with the organizational culture is equal to or more important than their skills and experience."
  • Strong company culture must come from the top. The CEO and other top executives must lead by example.
  • A study by Robert Half found that 40% of staff in Canada would not accept a job that was a perfect fit for their skills if the corporate culture was not a good fit. This report appears to have a great deal of relevant information but we could only access the summary without providing contact information.
  • Studies have shown that when an employee's values are aligned with those of the employer, the employee has higher job satisfaction and is less likely to leave.
  • Hiring for cultural fit should not be based on a "gut feeling." Rather, the culture of the company should be measured by surveying employees to determine what their values are overall. Then potential employees should utilize the same tool to see if their values align with what the company's overall culture is. This eliminates bias and potential lack of diversity when using "culture fit" as a hiring criteria.
  • Strong workplace culture is considered a best practice for improving employee retention and hiring because it is recommended by multiple experts, including Harvard Business Review and Canadian HR Reporter, and because there are hard statistics that support the importance of culture to both employees and employers.

Valuing Employees Leads to Improved Workplace Culture

  • Canada’s Top 100 Employers 2019 all focus on providing innovative programs that show their employees they are valued, and that help make life better for employees. These include programs such as leadership training, formal mentoring, job swap, tuition assistance, and programs that utilize technology to help employees grow.
  • A study by Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For and O.C. Tanner found that more personal recognition was the top mentioned thing employees said employers could do that would cause them to produce great work. Not only does recognition encourage better performance, it also makes employees feel valued.
  • Samsung Electronics Canada is on Canada's Top 100 Employers 2019 list and has recognition built into its company culture. The “U r Awesome” platform allows for recognition between peers, rather than just from management.
  • Valuing employees is considered a best practice for improving workplace culture because it is something that most of the companies on the Top 100 list have in common.

From Part 03
  • "We work with the world’s most recognized brands and organizations. Shindico’s tenant and client roster includes the world’s most prominent companies: Walmart, Home Depot, Sobeys, Staples, Loblaws, Toys R Us, Starbucks, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, Boston Pizza, Dollarama, Ashley Furniture and many more. "
  • "... providing full service to owners and occupiers of retail, office, industrial and multi-residential property. We are proud of our asset management top performance and industry-leading brokerage, development, property management and tenant representation teams. Our in-house capabilities allow us to draw upon the diversity of skills and talents needed to excel at managing your assets."
From Part 05
  • "There are almost 1.1 million SMEs in Canada. "
  • "Small business is big in Canada: 98.2% of all businesses have fewer than 100 employees. When you add in medium-sized businesses (100 to 499 employees), the percentage rises to 99.8%. "
  • "Only half of new firms (51%) survive their fifth year of operation."
  • "39% of all entrepreneurs are now women. Their number is growing faster than for men."
  • "2X rate of entrepreneurial activity for newcomers compared to Canadian borns."
From Part 07
From Part 08
From Part 12
  • "The Code states that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination or harassment because of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability."
From Part 13
  • "a commercial real estate broker with an impeccable reputation, a proven track record, a deep pool of contacts, market knowledge, expertise, access to market data and leading-edge information technology … a commercial real estate firm whose objectives are perfectly aligned with your own, someone you would trust with your firstborn. "
  • "It’s important, says Labossière, to seek out professionals who have a track record of doing commercial real estate deals successfully and are willing to spend the necessary time with you as you move through the process."
  • "A good commercial real estate agent will be knowledgeable about your local market and may even know about available properties that are not listed for sale, Labossière says. You should make sure your agent is familiar with the special requirements of your industry and your business."
  • "Iozzo, who’s social media accounts revolve around retail, fashion and fitness, is now a senior exec at Oxford Properties. Previously he was Director of Leasing at Cadillac Fairview, and before that he spent 13 years as Director of Real Estate for Rogers. Particularly in the Toronto real estate landscape, he’s a guy you probably want to know."
From Part 14
  • "Whenever someone walks out the door, people notice. Some will even start wondering if they should start looking for a new job, too. That's why employee retention and employee job satisfaction should be high on every organization's list of priorities, and why creating effective retention strategies to decrease turnover should be one of management's most important jobs."
  • "Google is well known for their extensive interviewing process when hiring. One former Google HR director said this was so they could achieve a “360 degree” perspective on the employee before making the call to hire. By “360 degree” perspective they mean that often, potential employees will be interviewed not by one HR person, but by several individuals including those both above and below them in the organisational hierarchy. That way Google can get a better cross-sectional understanding of how a potential hire will fit in across multiple workplace contexts (most obviously as someone who both is a boss and has a boss)."
  • "Research by the Aberdeen Group and Bersin by Deloitte shows that the onboarding process is more effective when it lasts from six months to one year from the time the employee is hired. Naturally, the length of time will depend on the nature of the job the employee is hired for, as well as the degree of organisational complexity. But this will be particularly so for larger organisations, where there is a well-established hierarchy and trajectory for upward career-mobility (and where there is greater risk a new hire will feel lost amidst the sheer size of the company)."
  • "A transforming workplace is changing employee expectations, forcing employers to embrace the diversity of globally distributed teams and multi-generational workforces, said Byer."
  • "At the same time, companies need to pay attention to how well a potential hire would fit in their workplace culture. Employees who don't feel the organization is a good match are the most likely to leave within a year, according to Robert Half research cited in this report. And, as managers know all too well, sudden departures are a drag on productivity, team morale and the budget."
  • "The core assumption here is that employees’ skills and competences matter more for organizational effectiveness than how well they fit in. While we’re not disputing the importance of having a highly skilled workforce, a large body of scientific evidence has shown that culture fit—which we and others define as how well one’s values adhere to the values of the organization or team — matters significantly for how people act and behave at work."
  • "But creating a recognition program is not something organizations do once and accept as perfect. Great organizations are constantly reiterating and reevaluating the way they reward employees, changing to meet the needs of their people and match the expectations of the market. As companies grow this becomes even more of a challenge and leaders are forced to rethink the way they add value to the employee recognition experience."