Justin Smith is a commercial real estate broker who has helped his clients close more than 500 real estate transactions worth more than half a billion dollars in consideration. In his new book, Industrial Intelligence, Smith outlines the playbook he uses with his own clients to help readers make their own expansion a success from beginning to end.

Strategic relocation planning, building programming, ideal project teams and timelines, negotiation tactics, tenant improvements—it’s everything readers need to know to avoid disruption, delay, and costly mistakes. I recently caught up with Justin to learn what inspired him to write the book, his favorite idea he shares with readers, and how he’s applied that idea.

Published with permission from the author.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, I found that I was working with an increasingly savvy group of entrepreneurs who were finding success in starting their businesses and growing their sales, but lacking in the know-how to grow their physical warehouse footprint. I love partnering with growth-minded business leaders but found that at best, the majority of them only really knew a quarter of the strategies and tactics needed to be successful if they were going to keep growing into larger warehouses and growing to serve customers in multiple markets and throughout the country. That is when I realized that this is a larger problem that is happening around the world.

I knew that I could educate my clients one by one, but that there was a greater need to provide a manual that executives could use to prime themselves for the path ahead so that they could further envision their company’s growth and to reference along the way. This manual would also serve as a resource that they could share within their team as their team grew and would eventually be distributed to all markets they do business.

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

Actively design your future warehouse. Must entrepreneurs now are experiencing pain, which often is in the form of running out of space. They fill their building, they can’t fit any more pallets of products and they start having to move them around their warehouse and into their yards to be able to access needed inventory. Many business leaders find this slows down their ability to receive new shipments, and lessens their ability to make tight shipping dates. Their knee-jerk reaction is to look for more space, near their old space, and as soon as possible.

When we help executives take a moment to design their next warehouse space, we find that we are able to make each move so much more impactful.

When it comes to where to locate the next warehouse, we can save time by shifting to markets closer to the ports that allow for quicker turnaround of trucks, shift to lower-cost markets with abundant labor to staff up or consolidate warehouses to increase efficiencies.

When it comes to the office space when we make a conscious effort to design the next space we can better adapt to team members’ preferences, new design elements, and improved furniture layouts to create a space that their team loves going to.

Lastly, and usually most importantly, when we bring material handling, warehouse automation, and robotics vendors into the conversation early, we find that there are usually new and better ways to layout their operation to leverage warehouse dimensions, ceiling heights, speed bays, electricity, dock doors and truck court dimensions to optimize the working environment and throughput. The result is that business leaders now know how each prospective building affects their ability to find, win and fulfill shipments from their suppliers to their customers and can make informed decisions rather than blindly taking the next building that fits their general specs.

Published with permission from the author.

What’s a story of how you’ve applied this idea in your own life? What has this idea done for you?

Knowing how to guide manufacturing and distribution-focused entrepreneurs in their journey of business growth and marry their vision to the right industrial property strategy has helped me learn what is most important for their success. It is in the repetition of working with these clients that I have been able to apply these lessons to working with clients who have national and global operations and help them at scale.

On top of that, I have been able to build a track record and confidence level working with businesses that utilize industrial property that I am able to invest in owning industrial property and advise others how they can own them too to create their own financial freedom. This has created a beautiful opportunity to demonstrate to clients that I practice what I preach in finding the right fit industrial property and that I am ready, willing, and able to put my money where my mouth is and invest in property right alongside them and share my knowledge and experience with them the entire way throughout the process.