I meet people all the time that want to open a business and are excited to see a new space to consider.  They have either driven by it and decided to call, found it online or tipped off to it by a friend as a great new opportunity.  Nearly every single introduction through a call, text or online starts with the request to see the space and vet it for their new business so without killing their initial excitement we in return begin the vetting process and guaging our time vs the end results.  Nearly every time I begin this process I can tell if this is a real deal within seconds of the first exchange or it they just don’t seem serious or ready and most of the time it is because of their pitch and delivery of what they are hoping to accomplish.  So the next time you begin a conversation with a landlord, owner or broker here are 3 tips that will help you when you are going to look at a commercial space.

  1. Have a plan.  You would be surprised at the number of people that reach out to see if a space is available and they say “I am thinking about opening a business”.  Well Duh! of course you are which is why you are looking at business space.  Unfortunately most owners and brokers don’t want to go through or have the time to explore business ideas.  If you are at the point of looking at space you need to have already a business planned and the reason for the space visit is to see if it is a good fit for that plan.  Once you have a plan in place and a vision it is much easier to look at the right spaces and know if they can work out.   You really have no idea what type of space you need for an idea but with a plan in place you know how it can be cut up, a range of size and a budget.
  2. Did I say Budget?  Please have a budget and be willing to discuss it.  The point of a space is to be a part of that budget and not having one or not being willing to discuss it is a major turn off and red flag.  And “as cheap as possible” is not doing you any favors with someone looking to collect as much as possible.  Once you have a plan be sure to be realistic in your budget and understand that it may not be what an owner is looking for but it gives a bases and something to work with.  Many times an owner is willing to flex as long as they know that the user is reasonable and understands the end goal is market rate, but hoping for close to free screams you are not serious or that you just don’t have high expectations.  As for low ballers and cheapskates, you just aren’t going to have much luck these days.  The shortage in supply and stability of many owners is going to just keep you from moving forward, so I would not expect a low offer to even get a response.  Once you are meeting with an owner or broker it is always helpful to be as transparent and open as possible.  Many times an owner will sign up with someone they believe in that is realistic from the beginning but maybe a start up and trying to build a brand.
  3. Keep the back story to yourself.  You would be blown away at what people talk about and tell us at showings.  They talk about their lawsuits, the 12 former companies, the time they got ripped off and just about every tale that landlords want nothing to do with.  There is a time and place for sharing and its not when you are trying to get a landlord to trust you with their asset and depend on you to make the rent payment.  So how do we overcome a bad past you say?  Be able to tell your story in a professional and solution based format.  I met a potential tenant the other day that had bought a franchise and was excited to find a place.  Once we got talking he told me about the franchisor being in a lawsuit with the franchisee’s and was trying to bury the company.  Hello?! That is the copmany that you are trying to win me over with right now. The last thing an owner wants to do is first get involved in your drama but also tie up a propoerty for it to just go under due to internal fighting.  We dont need to know everything but being honest and clear at the right time will save you a bundle of time and frustration.  I left that meeting knowing he had the ability to hustle but just wasn’t going to be worth the risk due to all the circumstances surrounding him.

So the moral of this story is to figure out what you want to do and have a plan in place to visit a property that is ideal for your new exciting business.  Instead of looking at space because you have a fresh idea, take the time to come up with a design, budget and pitch that makes a landlord want to spend the next 5 or 10 years with you.  There is nothing wrong with picking their brains before a visit but once you start looking at space its got to be because you are needing it and ready to go.  Being considerate of others time and assets is appreciated and in return they will be much more welcoming if you have vetted out the process just as much as they have you.  Good luck and lets get to work

Curt has been in the Indianapolis Real Estate business for over 15 years and spent his first years learning all aspects of commercial management and brokerage. He has had great success in managing existing commercial projects and new retail and office developments. Curt specializes in building owner representation and purchases in the Westfield Indiana market as well throughout the Indianapolis Metro area. Curt is passionate about growing the local Westfield community and in his free time volunteers with Student Impact and raising 2 children with his wife Jennifer.