Perhaps you’ve in outgrown your office? Maybe the small business you started from home now needs a suitable office location so you can employ additional staff?
I’d never considered before how trapped you can feel in your office space when it no longer meets your needs. Last year I started looking at potential new properties, but at the time I couldn’t leave the lease contract I was in for another 7 months. I was looking for a lease that required a contract period of 10 years, with an option to get out after 4. At around £1000 per month, it was a hefty commitment, but one that I could not avoid! My company had grown too large for the space we were in. We’ve just moved in to our new office space in Cambridge and I won’t lie . . . it’s very daunting! If you find yourself in a similar position, it’s essential not to make any rash decisions and end up in an office you can’t afford.
Whatever has caused you to look for new business premises, there are a few factors that you should consider before you commit yourself.
- What space do you need?
This should go without saying, but do look into the detail and perhaps consult with your employees about what they feel will work. Would you like the office to be open plan? How many desks are needed? Do you need a separate meeting room? Do you need storage space for packaging and posting? Think about what facilities you’ll need carefully – like car parking spaces and kitchen size.
You also need to think ahead. You don’t want to waste money paying for space you don’t need, but you also need room to grow . . . it can be a difficult line to tread.
When picking the location of your office there are a couple of things you’ll need to think about, especially if you have existing staff moving with you. Will the new office be easy enough to get to in terms of transport? Will there be the similar facilities to what they are used to, i.e. free or local parking? Also, is the office in a pleasant area? Will it suit your staff and your business brand image? Furthermore, does your chosen location suit your business brand image? Will customers be able to find you easily? Are there any competitors in the area? And if there are, would that work for or against you?
As I touched on earlier, commercial property for rent usually have much longer contract periods than residential properties do. So you’ll need to have a firm grip on the performance of your company. Have realistic predictions for the future so you can plan your finances for the first 5 years of a lease. It might be possible to find a shorter term lease, but this is not always beneficial as an unexpected move of your business could be shattering, and with a shorter lease you won’t have as much warning as you’d like before you have to uproot.
Think about additional and hidden costs like the cost of turning the vacant space into an office: furniture, branding, removal vehicles, IT support. Also be sure to check whether there are any additional monthly charges on top of the rent. These small costs can add up making a ‘cheap’ rental a rather expensive outgoing.
- Cleaning and Maintenance
Ensure you know whose responsibility it will be to manage and pay for the cleaning, maintenance, waste disposal and all the other practical matters associated with the property. Some properties have a fixed rate to cover all of those aspects while others require you to do minimal maintenance yourself as well as hire your own cleaner. The landlord might also have a certain standards he wants you to adhere to, so you might not even have free reign to you to hire who or how you want to.
- The Environment
The environmental policies of businesses are becoming more important each year. You need to have facilities so before you commit, enquire about the recycling facilities as well as the energy efficiency. If there are no existing facilities, it could be something your landlord would invest in in order to have your business. There’s never any harm in asking and it would be extremely beneficial!
- Choose your landlord carefully
Ask around, particularly if your company is based in the area you live. I was in talks with a local landlord who had a very desirable property up for rent. I was really interested but after asking around, I heard from a few previous tenants that he was unhelpful, demanding and would often try to catch his tenants out or blame them for issues at the property. You don’t need any extra difficulty from your landlord on top of the stress of a business move, so see if you can find some online reviews and ask friends, family and the local community for their opinion.