Real estate broker Jacqueline Klinger of The Shopping Center Group shares the ingredients for the perfect deal

What’s your secret sauce for attracting customers?

A lot of tenants I’ve had have called me. It must be word of mouth or through referrals and people I know. I’ve been here for a while.

Look at Sweetgreen locations. People say, “I want the person who made Sweetgreen.”

I was at a dinner party and the client said to me, “We love spending time with you, but the reason we work with you is because you know everyone.

We’re in sales, right? If I have someone looking for space or looking to experience New York, they want my opinion, but they also have their own ideas. It’s about how to lead people in a way where you don’t talk to everyone and listen to them.

I don’t speak just to hear myself speak. I am quite reserved. I’m not super aggressive. I don’t really like people who talk too much or don’t shut up.

Why do your customers choose you?

I don’t act as a broker, which is a terrible thing to say. Technically, I work in sales, but I don’t like to treat my job like I’m selling something to someone. This is not the case for me. It’s about building a long-term relationship with the people behind a business. I have worked with the same clients for years. I did all the business for [paper goods company] Papyrus, and I loved working with them, but they recently closed all of their stores.

When I go to a site and meet a potential tenant, there must be a kind of chemistry. If you don’t click with that person or those people and what their goals are, it just won’t work.

What’s your Hail Mary move if a customer walks out the door?

If I see that something is wrong, it is better to drop it. Trying to make a business work when your customer’s heart is not in it never works for me or my partners.

Favorite deal you’ve worked on?

I loved working at Whole Foods on Flatbush Avenue. It was a new building that Whole Foods was moving into with Apple. Shortly after the opening of the Barclays Center, this whole area was becoming increasingly gentrified. It was an exciting time for Brooklyn, and it’s in a great place.

I also loved working at Whole Foods in Harlem. It was the first Whole Foods we had done in Upper Manhattan, and it took a while. I think it was a deal that had a lot of social impact on the neighborhood, and it was important for the company and for New York.

How have you handled your customer expansions during the pandemic?

Sweetgreen opened its store in Crain’son 44th between Lexington and Third avenues in late 2020 or early 2021. It was really tricky – it was a Midtown area that was really strong for us, so we decided to go for another location.

They had already signed the lease before the pandemic. Our Midtown stores were among the best performing stores in the chain.

We didn’t give up, but the return to normal was slow. Don’t get me started on people not going to the office.

Who was your first big client?

In the early 2000s, I did the Jamba Juice rollout. They were from California and we did all their transactions in New York. They haven’t really stood the test of time with the styrofoam cups and all the sugar.

At the time it was super cool, and the brand was really well known. When they arrived in New York, it was really exciting, but I don’t think, given the direction health and wellness was headed, Jamba Juice was going to be successful.