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50% of our new clients are now through recommendations: Nikhil Aggarwal, founder, CRA Realtors

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Sandeep Kumar
Sandeep Kumar
A multimedia journalist with over eleven years of experience in print and digital media, Sandeep Kumar is assistant editor with Images Group. Books, retail, sports and cinema are an inextricable part of his life.
Nikhil Aggarwal talks about his journey, achievements and upcoming projects 

New Delhi: Nikhil Aggarwal has been an advisor to 400 large and small corporations in India, helping in their business expansion through retail/office space aggregation franchising, business solutions and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) Wealth Management.

With over 18 years of experience in marketing, management, designing, zoning and leasing of revenue-generating assets across India, his acumen encompasses planning, demand assessment studies and transaction services including marketing strategies based on technical real estate market scrutiny and feasibility studies.

In an interaction with Shopping Centre News, he talks about his journey, achievements and upcoming projects.   

Edited Excerpts

How does your firm approach client relationships and engagements?

We have spent almost 18 years in this industry and 50% of our new clients are now through recommendations. Our approach is quite simple: we provide 360-degree services with the right consultancy and advice.  We don’t manipulate to get clients on board.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Some of the new projects we are associated with include:

  • Unity, NSP
  • Pacific Mall of Dehradun
  • DLF Midtown Moti Nagar
  • DLF, Goa
  • Mall of Madras
  • V3S Vista, Gurgaon
  • Felix Mall, Gurgaon
  • Pink Walk, Jaipur
  • Inorbit Vizag
  • Mall of Noida, Sikka
  • AMG One, Ludhiana
  • HlP Galleria, Mohali

Which international brands have you lined up for launch in Indian malls?

Marks & Spencer in Vega Siliguri, Jalandhar and Centrio, Dehradun; H&M at Vegas, Dwarka; Starbucks at Omaxe, Chandni Chowk; Lacoste at Elante, Chandigarh; McDonald’s at Sec-28, Faridabad; Time zone at Pacific Mall, Faridabad and The Collective at CP67 Mohali.

How do you measure the success of your advisory services?

We measure our success by the success of the stores which we help build—we feel elated when projects where we work on flourish, do remarkable sales and business and have good footfall.

How do you leverage technology to enhance your services?

COVID-19 is when technology became mandatory for all of us. We make complete use of Microsoft Teams and Zoom for quick solutions and faster closures. At the backend, we are fully automated with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for tracking every step of every transaction closed by us for smooth handling.

Any emerging technologies or trends in real estate that your firm is particularly excited about?

Tata’s Zudio surprised the whole industry. They found the gap and made a big bang in their domain. They have started signing Letter of Intent’s (LOI) digitally, which is a big move. Post covid, shopping malls have started focusing or betting big on Food & Beverages (F&B) and are keeping 20% of the space for it. Projects like Worldmark, Advant, and Cyberhub are great examples of F&B-centric infrastructure, and they are flourishing.

How do you gather feedback from clients?

Since it has been a long journey of over 18 years in retail real estate, 70% of our clients are repeat. We meet often and discuss problems they are facing and how we can improve to make it a better experience.

What measures do you take to ensure client satisfaction and maintain long-term relationships?

A genuine client needs to be heard and offered a quick resolution. My whole team is dedicated to responding within a specified time so that they know we are there at all times. Giving them customised services ensures long-term relationships.

How does your firm stay informed about market trends?

There are many forums, conventions and seminars happening every month across different categories of retail and real estate. These events such as the Phygital Retail Convention are all about innovation and changing patterns in the industry. They help us learn.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the real estate advisory industry, and how does your firm address them?

Many of the landlords who are building retail-focused assets are sometimes not guided correctly and that makes our job difficult as we must explain the standard operating procedures (SOPs) required on the retail side. India is going through rapid change, and we believe that this education is going to come soon.

Real Estate in tier 2 and 3 cities is going to expand rapidly in the coming years. City centres are getting expensive and unaffordable, leading to the growth of Noida Extension, Greater Noida, and Golf Course Extn. and Dwarka Expressway. We are going the Western way—living in cities is going to be super expensive and rentals, both commercial and residential are going to increase in times to come.

How do you plan to adapt to changes in the market in the coming years?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the coming years is going to change working styles in every industry. We are closely monitoring and constantly trying to figure out the right usage of AI to make our job quicker and enhance customer experience.

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