1. Leave yourself enough time
Plan well ahead of when you think you will need to start considering space for your business, otherwise you may be putting yourself in a poor negotiating position. The more lead time you have, the more options you can leverage. Typically having three or four suitable options to vet is recommended.
2. Have a clear understanding of your needs
You will need to spend time thinking about the needs of your business not only today, but over the next few years. You probably expect your company evolve over this period, so you should consider making sure your future needs are being met as well as your current ones.
Far too often, business decisions are made based entirely off the bottom line. Consider all the other implications that a location can have on your business. How functional is the space for your staff? What image does it convey to your clients? What is the impact on employee retention and growth? If you lost half your staff due to a poor location choice, what is the real cost then?
4. Appoint a project Leader
This may be the single most important consideration when considering space. If this isn’t going to be you, make sure you appoint someone as a single point of contact to get the right message out and facilitate all communications properly. Input from all your departments plus advice from your attorney is required, however someone should be taking control of this process. Make sure information is gathered in an organized manner so it can be communicated amongst the necessary decision makers for input, but don’t leave decisions on space selection to a vote; all parties will be selfishly interested in what works for them. Give authority to whomever you appoint.
The workplace is evolving. Streamlined manufacturing, mobile workstations, shrinking private offices, open concept offices, green spaces, etcetera etcetera. Before viewing options on the market, take the time to plan out your space requirements, whether it means a shift from the cubicle farm to open concept or a change in the manufacturing process. By planning ahead, this will ensure you are looking at the right amount of space for the culture you wish to build.
6. Allow time for Build Out
When you find a suitable space for all of your needs, make sure you leave enough time for the space to be built properly according to your specifications. There are any number of complications that can arise, from permits at the city level to interference with holidays. Ideally, you will have the space ready with plenty of time to comfortably move in and get all your systems set up, whether this is just carpet and paint or a full rework.
7. Strike while the iron is hot
A great deal of time and effort is invested in the process of selecting suitable locations. Once you have located viable options, move quickly towards the finish line. Landlords will continue looking for other tenants and better deals until you lock down a space. Follow the golden rule: Time kills all deals.
No two spaces are exactly the same. Items like window location and column spacing can greatly impact how functional and efficient a space will be for your use. If one space can fit more employees or allow for more production capabilities, then foot for foot you are getting a better value there. If you are uncomfortable planning out your space, consider using a professional space planner.
9. Allow for Growth
You aren’t in business to shrink. Most companies will expect their business to grow over the next five years. It is important to consider how your business is likely to change over the course of your lease. Consider current and future build out. Flexibility with your landlord and options for movement and expansion will help alleviate some concerns.
10. The best opportunities may not be available
Although there are many spaces available on the market at any given point, there may only be a few that fit your needs, if any at all. The more unique your requirements, the less options you will have to consider. If you do require a more unique request, you will want to allow more time in the search process and be prepared to be flexible in putting a deal together. For the absolutely perfect space, you may need to wait for your space to come on the market, or have your agent pursue options that have yet to reach the market.