By Rieva Lesonsky
Have you always pictured your business located in your city’s charming downtown, with plenty of walk-in traffic to keep your employees busy? Or maybe an office park location in a suburban area is more your style. Whatever location you have in mind, before you hire a commercial realtor to help, do your homework so you aren’t caught not knowing your “vanilla shells” from your NNNs.
Start by considering whether you want to run your business from home. If your business depends on clients visiting frequently, if you need a commercial kitchen or if you know you just can’t stay focused when home distractions are present, you’ll need to find a commercial location. (You still may want to set up a home office to conduct business (and take advantage of home-office tax deductions).
When looking for commercial space, consider:
- Do you need foot traffic?
- Do you need ample parking?
- Do you need room to grow?
- Do you need high-speed Internet?
- Would you like a large anchor store nearby to draw traffic?
- Do you need easy access to transportation such as commuter trains or an airport for cargo shipping?
- Do you mind sharing resources such as copiers, receptionist and mail room?
Next, figure out your budget for monthly rent. Leasing space is likely to be one of your biggest expenses, so ask your accountant to help you determine what you can afford. Depending on your type of business, utilities can add as much as $600 to $1,000 to your monthly bill. Research what phone and cable companies operate in the area. You may be limited to only a few choices and services.
You can also check with your city’s small business development office and the local Chamber of Commerce for suggestions on where to locate your type of business. You may find out your city offers tax incentives to attract small businesses. Then, drive around to different locations to check out the traffic patterns, other businesses and types of customers in the area. Does the location project the image you want for your business?
When you’re ready to talk to a commercial agent, here are some things you should know:
- Total costs. What is included in the location? Are you getting the Vanilla Shell (the basic finishing, white walls and concrete floors) only?
- NNN lease. An NNN lease is one where the tenant pays the three major expenses: property tax, insurance and maintenance.
- Traffic numbers. Your agent should have demographic information and car counts on the location.
- Category exclusive. Asking to be the only business of your kind in the building or center is a reasonable request.
- Move-in concessions. Try to negotiate move-in concessions such as a discounted first year rent, or subsidized utility costs.
Brick and mortar locations are extremely beneficial, but you can’t forget about the social media-centric world. You need a strong strategy, so check out Infusionsoft’s “From So-So to Social” e-book for tips.