How to find your next office space – a checklist

When I meet with prospective clients for the first time, the first thing they ask is, “What would be the process you go through to find us space?”  Ok, so the *first* question is more often, “How do you get paid?”, but the former comes in a close second.  Although I am sure that this post won’t mitigate requests to understand how we do what we do as commercial tenant representative brokers, my hope is that it will provide my readers with an insight into the steps that make up the rather complex process.  The following 10 steps are an overview of the process:

1) Determine if current space will meet all of my client’s needs.
A lot of time and energy can be avoided if the current space still meets the client’s needs and they just need to negotiate a renewal.

2) Identify how much space my client will need.
At this stage, we typically bring in a space planner or utilize an office space calculator like the one found on the Resources page.  Knowing how much space a client actually needs is crucial before going out to the market.

3) Define all of the major requirements beyond size.
The client needs to think about the amenities, services and benefits their current building and location provide.  Is mass transit or highway access important?  What about common elements of a building, like parking, conference rooms, dining service or fitness facilities?  Do their employees or customers require certain features in a space?  Generally, I recommend reviewing this requirement list with all divisional heads to ensure that they do not overlook any “deal breaker” requirements.

4) Prepare a report of all the suitable spaces in the market.
Brokers have access to databases and listings that often are not publicly accessible and tools to aggregate these listings into easy-to-read reports for a client.  This step alone can save hours versus conducting a “windshield survey” or relying on a publicly accessible, self-managed listing site like LoopNet.

5) Tour all spaces and pare down the list to a reasonable number of highly-qualified options.
Visit each site that has made it to the client’s “short list”.  Since it takes 15-30 minutes to view each site, plan on taking either a half-day or full day, occasionally even more, to complete this tour.  The client should strive to reduce the list to 3-5 properties that would meet all of their requirements.

6) Draft an RFP and submit to all highly-qualified spaces.
The goal of this step is to collect proposals from all landlords of suitable spaces. 

7) Review proposals.
Upon receipt of the proposals, we review all of the terms offered to see which offers are within the client’s desired terms.

8) Negotiate with landlords until we reach their best offers.
Landlords will typically budge a bit on their terms if they really want my client as a tenant.  Part of my job is ensuring that the landlord is very keen on having my client as a tenant, but how I do that is trade secrets 😉

9) Identify the best offer and negotiate the final lease document.
After finding a site that meets your requirements and offers acceptable terms, the actual lease document still needs to be negotiated.  Kathleen Hopkins’s Key Drivers for Negotiating a Commercial Lease for the Small Tenant is a great checklist for understanding how to approach key lease terms.

10) Move in to new space.
We’ve made it to the final stretch.  As your space in being built out to your specifications, a space planner can help to determine where to locate employees, furniture and in-suite amenities.  Some landlords will provide a space planner to help design the space and most furniture dealers have designers to help you lay out the furniture and fixtures.  To be honest, a lot of this step will actually run concurrently with the market search phase, prior to requesting offers.  Now, just find a mover to take all of your “personal property” – computers, files, equipment, artwork and furniture – and you’re on your way to a new place.

Although the new office space search can seem daunting, tenants will find that in the right hands it is a smooth process that can help their business be more productive and, when done effectively, both reduce expenses and increase revenues.

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One Response

  1. i think point 3:
    3) Define all of the major requirements beyond size.
    is the most important ofcourse there is size, but then there is everything else that is a must to have in a potential office space.

    Great post!
    Cheers,
    Albert

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