[fa icon="calendar"] 06.30.2016 / by Rory Williams
When searching for a new office space, make sure you are not underestimating how important it is for your business. This is a decision that can affect everything from daily operations to staff morale and even your company image. Here are 10 things to consider when selecting a new office space.
1. Work With a Broker
One of the first things you need to do when shopping for office space is to learn your market. Leases can have many nuances such as renewal terms, expansions and termination rights that can be confusing if you don’t know what questions to ask. Hiring a real estate broker who is familiar with your market can help guide you through this process and ensure that you don’t get a bad deal.
2. Don't Take More Space Than You Need
You don’t want to lease more space than you need or you will end up wasting a good amount of money paying for space that you aren’t using. However, you also want to account for future growth if that is in your plans. Conventional wisdom says to be thrifty here.
3. Determine the Tenant Improvement (TI) Costs
Once you have found a space with the right square footage, you’ll need to look at the layout. If the layout does not fit your needs, you may need to renovate. This is called tenant improvement (TI) and, in some cases, the landlord will contribute to these costs. However, you will probably need to sign a long term lease that extends past 24 months if you want financial help with this.
4. Read the Lease Carefully
Be sure you know exactly what is in the lease before you sign anything. Pay specific attention to hidden costs such as utilities and common area maintenance (CAM) fees. These fees include the cost of cleaning and maintaining hallways, restrooms, parking areas and outdoor landscaping. If you aren’t sure whether these fees are included in your rent, don’t hesitate to ask.
5. Is There Room to Grow?
Keep in mind that lease terms are just as important as your rent. If your business has plans to expand, you may need to double your space in a year or two. Consider signing a one year lease with a three or five year option so that you aren’t stuck in a long term commitment.
6. Investigate Your Landlord
It’s always been tradition for property owners to run credit checks on their tenants. These days, however, it goes both ways. You’ll want to make sure your landlord is not in some kind of financial or legal trouble. When negotiating a larger deal, you’ll most certainly want to run a credit check on the property owner.
Before signing a lease, make sure your office building has all the amenities you’ll need. Is there a kitchen or breakroom? Is there a cafeteria in the building or nearby restaurants? Are the restrooms in good shape? Is there security on staff? These are all questions you should look into before signing any paperwork.
Most entrepreneurs don’t think to consider style when shopping for office space. While this is not one of the most important things to consider, it can still affect the image of your company’s “brand.” What other business are in the area? Can you renovate the space with no extra cost? Would you publish photos of the office to your website? These are all questions that need to be taken into account.
These days, there aren’t many businesses that can function properly without a reliable internet connection. You’ll also want to make sure postal service is available for signed documents and other physical items. Be sure to ask your landlord if you can test the internet connection and if your office will have a dedicated postal address. Asking other tenants to share their experiences is a good idea too.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “location is everything.” While it may not be everything, it is still a vital part of your decision making. You’ll want to make sure your office is in a convenient location for both clients and staff to get to. Also consider whether the neighborhood is safe or not. Is there a gym nearby? Restaurants and coffee shops? These are all important if you want to keep your clients and employees happy.
Negotiating lease terms can sometimes be a little overwhelming for a first time renter. If you know what to look for and what questions to ask, though, you can ensure that you are getting a fair deal and that all parties involved are satisfied.