An office lease is a long-term commitment. The initial term can easily last from five to ten years, but that's just the beginning. Since spaces are expensive to configure, moving addresses is a challenging process that involves additional cost and complexity, and the future is unclear, it's usually in your best interest to choose a space that you CAN stay in well beyond your lease's expiration date, even if you decide to leave. With this in mind, it's really important to get the right space on the right terms. Here are six ways that you can avoid signing the wrong office lease.
1. Involve a Tenant Rep... Early
Of all of the things that you can do to make sure that you get the right lease in the right space, hiring a good tenant representative is the most important one. He or she is a real estate professional that brings market expertise, negotiating skill, and the combined knowledge of working with vast numbers of other businesses. Most tenant reps work for free since they get paid by the landlord and/or the landlord's broker, so you get all of these benefits without any additional cost.
2. Study What Already Works
The first step in understanding what you will need is to know that already works -- and already doesn't work for your business. Knowing the right size, type and configuration of space can help you focus on the buildings that meet your needs. Having an understanding of which types of locations work best for your business will allow you to narrow your search to cover only the most appropriate neighborhoods.
3. Build a Long Term Plan
The most important thing isn't to get the best space today, instead, it's to avoid signing the wrong office lease for the company that you'll be during its entire term. This means that you need to have a clear long-term plan for what you need from a given office over a five to ten (or 20 or 30) year period. What size will you grow into? What type of location will suit your company's brands -- external, employment, and others? What type of configuration will match your style of work and your messaging? Understanding all of these things upfront will also guide you to the right buildings, the right build outs, and the right lease terms.
4. Get Help From an Attorney
Your tenant representative can help you understand the market and negotiate your business terms. An attorney can work with you to make sure that the specific language of the lease protects your business and its needs both now and today.
5. Get A Space Planner's Input
Defining what your business needs and will need is one thing. The ability to put those desires into reality, though, depends on the configuration of the space. The perfect office lease quickly turns into the wrong lease if your space is two feet too narrow to hold all of your workstations. Space planners help you analyze the layout of the space, the flow of light, and the availability of options to make sure that everything works the way that your business needs -- both today and tomorrow.
6. Make Landlords Compete
Finally, the best way to be sure that you truly are getting the best lease possible si to keep your landlord honest. Working with your tenant rep and other team members, get offers from multiple buildings so that every landlord has to compete for your business. That way, they will put their best foot forward so that you get the right lease at the right price.
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