In today’s Four on Friday, we revisited one of our first Four on Friday participants, Monetha Cobb of Franklin Street. Cobb is a trusted advisor for top-of-the-class retailers who have depended on her expertise and relationships to guide strategy and execution of their retail rollout including: PNC Bank, Dollar Tree Stores, Bealls Outlet, Cabela’s and Cato.
Consistently one of Atlanta’s top retail producers, Cobb has won several honors, including recently being named a 2015 Woman of Influence by Real Estate Forum magazine. Cobb shared how she got her start in the business and current trends impacting the commercial real estate market. Many thanks to Cobb for her time.
How did you get your start in real estate?
Cobb: I began my career in high school spending summers visiting my sister who worked with a development company in Atlanta. I stuffed envelopes, arranged and updated lease abstracts, organized blue prints from the construction team, and did some office work. I had aspirations of commodity trading up north but quickly realized the Southeast was my paradise.
I spent two summers between my junior year at UGA working for the Atlanta-based development company that built Mall of Georgia. The idea of creating a mall in a cow field in Buford just amazed me. I was then exposed to the retail tenant representation specialty following the careers of several Atlanta pioneers in the field. After graduation, I was introduced to two women specializing in big box retail tenant representation for The Shopping Center Group. As partners for more than15 years, they were finally looking for an additional team member. I then began my career, serving the company for more than 10 years.
What sets Franklin Street apart from other commercial real estate companies?
Cobb: Our success is heavily driven by the distinction between us and our competitors. Already established in markets across the globe, we see our competition as CBRE, Marcus & Millichap, JLL, and other large real estate firms —some being global Fortune 500 companies with more than 10,000 employees. In order to compete with these larger institutions, we offer more hands-on guidance and support.
It has been essential to our culture since the start of the company for agents to be provided with the tools and leadership they need to succeed within the industry’s competitive and fast-paced sales environment. We foster open lines of communication by holding completely inclusive bi-weekly sales meetings, encouraging continuing education, promoting from within, and holding an annual Sales Symposium to team build and share information. Unlike many other sales-oriented companies, we advocate mentorship from our company leaders to new professionals who are learning the market to help expedite development.
All of these workplace procedures and planning, along with being able to provide a broad range of value-added services, allows us to best serve our clients’ needs better than any other southeastern commercial real estate company. When planning for the future, we believe our strong values will continue to set us apart from our competition, bring new talent to our company, and in-turn, make our business a role model in the community and industry.
What are some major trends you see happening in commercial real estate market today?
Cobb: I have seen two trends recently:
1. The downsizing of many retail and restaurant footprints. This is largely occurring because of two core reasons: to drive efficiency, and because many traditional retailers are implementing omnichannel strategies, e-commerce divisions make up for the reduction of square footage in the stores.
2. Clicks-to-bricks continues to be a growing retail trend and Atlanta has seen a lot of impact from the relatively recent movement. Several recent retail additions hitting the local market include some notable clicks to bricks retailers such as Warby Parker, Boston Proper and Bonobos. Other examples include online brands partnering with other brick-and-mortar locations, such as Birchbox and Gap or Blue Nile and Nordstrom. With physical stores, online retailers have the opportunity to engage with customers at a deeper level and be exposed to an entirely different audience.
Do you have any summer vacation plans?
Cobb: Nothing involving significant travel since my son is only three (he still isn’t too keen on long distant flights). However, we have been able to get away to St. George Island for a few days with some great friends and always take several trips over the summer to Lake Oconee for quick getaways. When it cools off a bit in early fall, we plan to visit Rosemary Beach, Florida, and Disney.