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Ann Arbor Spark

November 2, 2020

What to Do When It’s Time To Find Office Space For Your Business

Contributed by Melissa Gumenick, Oxford Companies

Melissa serves as Oxford’s Associate Director of Business Development and holds an MBA from the University of Michigan as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. She’s skilled at streamlining processes and building connections, and is passionate about enriching the Ann Arbor community with projects related to art, beautification, and sustainability. 

These days, with the availability of online tools and data – searching for office space on your own is a very feasible option. And landlords would be more than happy to engage with you, educate you, and create an ideal space for you and your employees.

Alternatively, you could enlist the services of a broker. As a landlord, we’ve worked very successfully in both scenarios; however, working directly with the tenant is preferred, as it allows us to better understand your needs and motivations, and build a relationship of cooperation and trust from the first contact.

We understand that you may choose to use a broker, which will bring its own set of considerations. The most important thing to remember is that the broker is paid to bring us together and sign a lease.  But the landlord’s multi-year relationship with you has just begun. And because we’re invested in your satisfaction through your entire tenancy, we want to offer advice on this portion – finding the best quality broker.

If you choose to work with a broker, we recommend you consider one that:

Knows the quality landlords in the area.

If a broker knows which landlords often have a great selection of office options in the area, do a first-class job building out and delivering the space, and have customer service that is unmatched, then it makes sense for them to send you to them. It’s that simple.

We believe a good broker knows to consider great customer service when looking for a new space for your company. 

Knows the inventory.

A broker should make an effort to tour available space, even without a client in mind.  A seasoned broker has seen most of a market’s inventory. That means not wasting your time walking into an unsuitable space and it means fewer surprises at lease time. “What do you mean, there’s no parking?!” It helps you to have a broker that knows almost as much about the immediate area, the building and the space as the landlord does.

We believe a good broker makes an effort to know the inventory, to better help you.

Knows to ask you the right questions.

Understanding your motivations, your dealbreakers, and all that’s on your wish list is the best negotiating tool. If you have a broker fighting for a lower rent, when you’re really concerned about the energy needs of your servers, you have a broker who doesn’t serve you best. A broker should fight for everything you want, and nothing you don’t.

A good broker knows to ask all of the right questions so they can negotiate hard for the results YOU want.

Knows the landlord and their motivations.

 A good broker has worked well with a landlord before or makes an effort to get to know them – it helps them get you what you want!  If the landlord won’t budge on rent, there are a lot of reasons behind that – more than you might guess. Therefore, knowing what they are able to provide for you in other arenas – signage, parking, rent abatement, build-out specs, exclusive restroom access, etc. – helps your broker get you the best deal without making either side feel like they’ve had to give too much to get you in there.

A good broker gets you the best deal possible by negotiating effectively with the landlord.

Negotiates hard, but respectfully, for their clients.

 It takes a specific type of person to be a tenant broker. A tenant broker is hungry, they can often tolerate some risk, and they are go-getters. It’s not a profession for the faint of heart. Being paid on commission may mean that sometimes a broker can aggressively put their financial incentives before the needs of their client. And that, we find, makes a successful deal far more difficult to achieve.

A good tenant broker negotiates hard for your needs, is respectful and professional to all involved, and is a person we (and you) hope to work with again in the future.

In summary, be selective about who you choose to represent you in your search for office space. You and your staff will benefit the most!

We’d love to help you with a new or renewed lease on the perfect space for your business. Visit our website for availabilities, news and updates, and lots more.

P.S. When it’s time to renew, a landlord has more flexibility to negotiate when you contact them directly.  Your relationship with them is already established and they already know you and understand your needs. While we, as a landlord, are very grateful to the brokerage community for introducing us to our new tenants, we know that we are the ones that can serve our partnership with you best when it’s time to extend your lease.