One-on-One with Pam Goodwin: A Think Realty “Woman to Watch in 2017” Owner of Goodwin Commercial

by | Apr 12, 2017 | Article, Market & Trends, Profiles

Pam Goodwin will serve as a panelist on Think Realty’s 2017 “Women to Watch in Real Estate” panel at the Think Realty Dallas Expo on April 29, 2017, in Dallas, Texas.

Pam Goodwin is the founder and owner of Goodwin Commercial, a boutique commercial real estate and consulting firm specializing in developing retail and restaurant pad sites. She started Goodwin Commercial in 2006 after a long tenure working with Brinker International (Chili’s) and developing more than 50 pad sites, building lots adjacent to shopping centers or malls commonly used for restaurant development.

Goodwin has a long record of successfully guiding local and national clients like, Walgreen’s, McDonald’s, Chase Bank, and others, with their commercial real estate acquisitions, lease obligations and consulting services. She has written and published two books: One Cent Lemonade to Million Dollar Deals -25 Jobs & 25 Lessons I Wish I Learned Sooner! and #1 Best Selling author on Amazon Winning Ways in Commercial Real Estate-18 Successful Women Unveil the Tips of the Trade in the Real Estate World. She is also the creator of a four-part audio real estate course, “How to Win in Commercial Real Estate – Zero to $1,000,000 with One Deal.”

In addition to her books and audio series, Goodwin has contributed to numerous newspapers, magazines, podcasts, and radio shows sharing her knowledge and expertise in the commercial real estate industry. She was selected as a Southwest Woman of Influence by the editors of Real Estate Forum. Goodwin is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors and Real Estate Professionals, and Deals in Heels, as well as an approved Texas Real Estate Commission Instructor and alumni of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Think Realty: So please tell us how you – and Goodwin Commercial – got started.

Pam Goodwin:

I started off with a degree in commercial interior design. I always wanted to become a famous hotel designer, and I did receive a job offer at the Marriott corporation. I decided to stay in Omaha, Nebraska where I’m from, and worked for a large office developer designing law offices, and real estate offices. I also spent some of my career working with large shopping centers, on the tenant side and working for different restaurants.  For the last 11 years, I’ve had my own investment and development company called Goodwin Commercial. We’re based in Dallas.

Eleven years ago, I teamed up with a partner, a landlord who had been developing Chili’s restaurants. Together, we created and ran a development company for about four years based on our experiences in the restaurant industry. After developing more than 50 pad sites for Chili’s, which is one of the largest national restaurant companies in the world, we decided to start developing and investing in single-tenant commercial properties.

As you might imagine, throughout the experience of acquiring and developing land we created relationships with a lot of national chains.  My company specializes 100 percent in retail, so my contracts are with national restaurants and national retailers. We acquire land – specifically an acquisition of one to five acres – develop it, and lease it back to the national retailers such as Walgreens, McDonald’s, Chase, Starbucks etc.

Think Realty: That sounds complicated. What all is involved?

With all of the years of experience we doing everything from working with city hall, hiring the architect, the civil engineer, the due diligence and creating a Proforma of knowing exactly how much money we’re going to make. Of course, we hope to profit on each deal. In the last few years, we’ve been taking an existing building, and placing a brand-new tenant in it. For example, we took an old building 3,000 square foot building. We drew the attention of Mattress Firm, so we did a free-standing Mattress Firm deal.

Think Realty: Why the leap from working with Chili’s to what you’re doing today?

I think everybody always has a fear of breaking out of corporate America, but eventually a lot of entrepreneurs make that leap. I was very comfortable having a six-figure income, getting all the free food I wanted, and a challenging position at which I excelled. I realized, though, the harder I worked the more projects they gave me, which I guess was good for them, but you can completely get burned out in a situation like that. Sometimes you just have to take that leap.

Think Realty: How did you make that leap?

I interviewed different landlords, and prepared a business plan on the basis of how much of a retainer I could charge then came up with three different ways of making money.

  1. Consulting
  2. Brokerage
  3. Development work

Three ways of making short-, medium-, and long-term money.

The short-term money was the consulting fees with my former employer and next are brokerage fees, and that is what really hooked me. Once I found a business partner, I left my job on good terms with my former employer.  And it just so happened that Chili’s was looking for a location. They sent me to a small town to find a piece of property.

That’s how I got my first deal. So, while working on that first deal’s letter of intent, Chili’s was in process of opening 150 locations. But they decided instead to cut everyone and downsize. This being after I had a piece of property under contract. So, Chili’s didn’t take that location, but I ended up having another national tenant take that location. And it’s one of my best projects we worked on because we actually had it under contract, and sold it to a national tenant for a  higher price on the very same day. I was completely hooked on real estate development after seeing what that fee was.

So many people are fearful of not doing what they really want to do with their lives. Just getting the confidence to get that first deal is so beneficial. I always advise if you’re going to learn something new, team up with the right person for a few years, and let them show you the ropes. Even team up with someone if you’re afraid to go do it 100 percent on your own.

Think Realty: So how would you recommend someone take that leap in terms of finding someone with whom to team up?

In the end, the great thing is that you really can have your pick – if you do things right. Right now, LinkedIn is such a great way to find people. If you just ask for help, you will be amazed at how many people will help you. I love to mentor people, and there are a lot of really successful investors out there in all industry sectors who feel the same way. I will meet with college students that reach out to me  or even if you’ve had years of experience and want to learn investment, I’ll definitely meet with you. I believe in giving back on what I’ve learned and, like I said, I’m not alone.

Just remember, it may take a couple of people. It may take meeting with 10 people or more, but I’ll guarantee you just by talking with people you will find someone who will be willing to help you toward whatever goals you’re trying to reach.

Think Realty: So do you like your local market in Texas?

Of course! It has to be one of the strongest real estate markets in the whole country. I read every day that more people are moving to Texas than any other state, and we have so many corporate relocations, especially from the state of California, based here in Dallas. There are so many cranes going up, so all that is so positive. People are moving here and need new houses, new multifamily residences, etc. and that is where we come in, more on the retail sector, once that initial development has come in place. More residents and residences just means, for us, more restaurants, since we specialize in restaurant development and restaurant brokerage, and you still can’t eat online! We see so many restaurants being built, especially in Texas since we have no mountains and no beach. Basically, we shop a lot and we eat a lot here.

Think Realty: How do you know what areas of development will be best for your business?

First, look at the “main market” and then expand your gaze outward. For example, in Dallas things are moving to the North. I look at small towns even as few as 10 minutes away, and then I make connections. City economic development directors can be your best friend. They will tell you exactly what is missing in their city. They will tell you who owns the property. I try to meet several of these directors or developers at least once a week. They’ll just tell you if they know restaurants are already looking in the area, and who they wish would start looking. That is one of the highlights of bringing a new restaurant or retail concept to some of the smaller markets in Texas: they love it when you do.

Also, I follow a lot of companies and individuals on social media, especially LinkedIn. They are constantly posting where they’re expanding or you can go on their website. If they’re a public company, you can listen to their annual report and it will tell you how many they plan on either growing or downsizing.

Think Realty: You are going to be a panelist on the our “Women to Watch in Real Estate in 2017” panel at the Think Realty Expo in Dallas. Could you comment on any areas of the industry in which you feel women, specifically, are thriving?

Well, when I started 30 years ago it was definitely a boys’ club, and even today there are not all that many women in my space, the development side. I definitely see a lot more woman who may have started off in residential real estate deciding to transition to commercial real estate than I used to, however, since so much of commercial real estate is about meeting and networking, as a gender we really are starting to thrive in this sector.

Here’s an example: I belong to a group of woman in commercial retail real estate called “Deals in Heels”, and it’s a great group. There are about 60 of us. We meet every month and our members range from real estate managers for national companies to women working on the landlord side and development side. It is just a good, trusted group, and if we ever have any questions about a comp, or what’s happening in the industry, having that membership to support us is a really good thing. Being involved in that kind of group is just a good opportunity, and I see a lot more younger people, especially woman, trying to get into the industry and I encourage all of them to get into both a good networking group and into the commercial space.

Think Realty: What do you look for in a networking group?

Well, if you are just starting, you need to find out who is really involved and active in the space. For example, some people like office and industrial retail, while others want to focus on the landlord side or even the tenant side. If you know your niche already, make sure the right people are in the group for you. That doesn’t mean you should all be doing the same thing, but you do need people who will complement you. If can’t find a group, start your own. I always encourage people to start their own group that is exactly what they are looking for.

Logistically, it’s simple: post it on LinkedIn and create your own Facebook page. Start inviting people, and once a month have a physical event at a certain location. Be specific. If you want men and women, invite both. If you want a certain age group, say so. If you want a certain mindset or industry sector, say so. If you have a good agenda and a clear goal, you’ll be surprised at how good your outcome will be.

Read more about Pam Goodwin in her official Think Realty “Women to Watch” profile, and meet her in person at our Dallas Expo on April 29, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. Register here to reserve your space.


Tags | Women
  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

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