There have never been so many options available to companies for their office space. How do you decide among them and is your tenant rep able to advise you on all the options? That’s today’s topic on the Confessions of a Recovering Landlord Podcast.
Some of those options include corporate goals, geography, control and product type. Companies typically have a road map for its future – improvements to existing products and services, new products/services, new client verticals, how they are going to finance growth, employee development, etc. These things must be determined and understood before any discussion of where to put people. For example, if a company intends to reach new clients or hire new employees, they need to understand where those people are and how to reach out to and engage with them. Knowing this information will help them make better decisions on facilities.
An option to consider would be geography. One would assume geography is pretty easily solved but it can get complicated. Let’s assume that a company is based in Plano, Texas, but they plan to expand to serve customers in the Pacific Northwest (Boise, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver). Can they effectively reach those markets from Plano using virtual tools or airlines or do they need to have employees up there? Will clients need to come to their office? Let’s take it more granular. If they decide to have an office in Seattle, will their employees be willing to commute to a downtown office building or would they prefer to drive their own cars to a suburban office building where they don’t have to ride an elevator 30 floors? If they can handle their business virtually, do they want to stay in a metropolitan area at all? Maybe they would prefer to move to a smaller town in the mountains, near a beach or somewhere they can have a small farm as well. Wherever they can get strong internet connectivity is a possibility.
Another consideration is control. What exactly do we mean when we say control? Control relates to a lot of things. Who is in control of of the space the company occupies? Is it space they control through a lease or ownership so they can ensure confidentiality or are they comfortable having their business conducted from a semi-public place like an open coworking space or a coffee shop? What about control of their employees? Do they have technology, processes and procedures in place to manage them remotely or do they all need to be in the same place? Or more likely, some can be managed from afar while others need closer supervision.
Our last option is product type. This gets down to the sticks and bricks – the physical building. Is it ok to share the building with other companies or is a totally separate space necessary? Is it important to have a sign on the side of the building? Will clients need to come to the building? The options include: high-rise office; office condos; flex; retail conversions; coworking; work-from-home; and hybrid – a little bit of everything. Each of these have pros and cons depending on the corporate goals.
This process requires a lot of thought and planning and most tenant reps aren’t able to guide a company through this process. Normally, tenant reps are brought in when it’s time to find the property and negotiate the lease. What we’d like to suggest is a different way of doing business. We’ve never liked the term tenant rep. We prefer corporate real estate advisor. Our company is named REATA which is an acronym which stands for Real Estate Advisors & Tenant Advocate. We think it’s important that we work with clients for anything they need related to real estate – leases, purchases, subleases, sales, consulting, site selection-whatever. This means we won’t always be paid by commission. If a client is considering whether to have a traditional office in a high-rise office building or set up a distributed model with some people working from home or coworking locations, a typical commission structure doesn’t really work by itself. We might need to bring in other consultants to help – architects, IT professionals, process experts, HR professionals, furniture experts, construction managers, movers, etc.
Combining REATA’s consulting with these other professionals creates the opportunity to explore the full range of options to arrive at the best solution for the client. While we have always provided portions of this services, the forced experiment of COVID has proven that other options exist. This will accelerate the need for a more-comprehensive analysis of business processes and their relationship to and need for real estate. Kindly contact our office and we’ll be happy to send you a copy of our revised 9 Steps to Leasing Office Space to give you menu options for the expanded consultancy services we are now offering along with our standard brokerage features.
Bob Gibbons is a Real Estate Advisor & Tenant Advocate (also known as a tenant rep) with REATA Commercial Realty, Inc. which is a tenant advisory firm based in Plano, Texas. Bob serves companies in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Richardson, Addison, Dallas and the surrounding areas and specializes in companies which lease or buy office and warehouse properties.