Never Assume the Status Quo
If anybody at Prologis knows the company inside out, it’s Gina Helmold. Following her real estate management studies in Stuttgart, Germany, she joined Prologis as leasing officer in 2010 and went on to hold many other positions. Since 2017, Helmold has been vice president market officer Benelux. In this role, she is responsible for managing leasing and development contracts with existing and new customers.
When asked what makes her role interesting, she explains, “Every day is different. It’s all about relationships and not just closing a deal.” Helmold is particularly interested in knowing the challenges that confront customers. “Essentially, my customers have to deal mainly with operational procedures and logistics processes. The actual content of their real estate requirements is not so high on their list of priorities. So I’m constantly emphasizing the strategic value of real estate for the logistics process. I help my customers with their decisions about real estate, so they can focus on their core business.”
Helmold often uses the term “added value” when talking about Prologis: “We’re certainly not just deal makers. At Prologis, we aim for long-term partnerships because we are an investor and developer that serves the interests of the customer in the longer term.” According to Helmold, that means providing a team of specialists, rather than just a helpdesk number, to support customers. “Our customer relations do business mainly with various experts. They really add value to the partnership,” she explains.
How does Helmold focus on long-term relationships? “I know what customers need and how they differ from one another,” she says. This means she enjoys talking with them directly. “You need to know what’s actually concerning customers, which means continually asking lots of questions.” But Helmold believes it’s also about keeping the processes simple. She says, “That includes drawing up clear contracts and invoices and being clear about who to contact.”
Helmold emphasizes the importance of personal contact. “It goes further than just talking about the figures. It’s about creating trust. We’re proud that we’ve been working with many customers for years already. You gain that trust by being honest,” she says. The subtleties of good communication are especially important. Helmold explains, “That applies to how you answer the phone, right up to the conversations you have with the customer. It helps avoid certain matters from developing into problems. It also means regularly asking how things are going and what we can do and improve. The worst thing you can do is to assume things. You always have to challenge the status quo. That’s my motto. Especially now that our customers’ businesses are changing ever more rapidly, we need to anticipate those changes even faster.”