Every practice has different needs, landlords have different requirements and the market varies based on region.
Last week, we took a look at the difference between subletting and leasing with a focus on helping you determine which one will be the best fit for you at this stage in your practice growth.
This week, we will take a look at a 8 key considerations you need to keep in mind when negotiating a lease with your landlord:
Location, location, location…
Is your new office conveniently located with ease of accessibility for your clients? Better yet, is the location convenient for you and your commute from home? Is the office located on a busy street that might compromise the sense of privacy your clients may enjoy when visiting your space.
Be sure to inquire about any costs above and beyond the fees associated with your lease. You want to be completely aware of how to budget your business:
- Internet Access
- (Free) Parking
- Trash Removal
- Janitorial Services
- Wheelchair accessibility is a requirement in our line of work
- Snow removal if you live somewhere where that kind of thing matters
How do we deal with emergencies, breakdowns, power outages and such?
Should there be a power outage or a mechanical breakdown is there a maintenance team in place to handle those concerns? Depending upon the size of the operation you are leasing from, there may be a significant delay for repairs. Take an honest objective look at the condition of the space you are considering. Is the space already in good repairs…or do you foresee various breakdowns that could be disruptive to your business?
What about availability/accessibility?
Are there days/hours when the office will not be available? Private practices can sometimes keep non-traditional hours such as evenings and weekends. If your business will need that flexibility, be sure to inquire about accessibility after hours. This may also mean ensuring that you have 24 hour access to the HVAC system. If you are working late in the evenings or on weekends, you will absolutely want to have access to climate control.
Who Are Your Neighbors?
Inquire about the kinds of business that your landlord typically leases to...and make sure the landlord understands the nature of your work. My first landlord frequently rented to small churches. That was good during the week because it was very quiet when no one was there. But on Bible study night…there was a full accompaniment of drumming, singing and foot traffic that was quite disruptive to my clients. Get to know the other neighbors that will be sharing the space with. Do they have businesses that are likely to be loud or have high traffic? Can your landlord ensure you a reasonable amount of quiet and privacy?
Even with quiet neighbors, you will need to think about soundproofing. Ours is a business where confidentiality is of the utmost concern. Having well insulated walls along with the standard white noise machine will be essential to providing a sense of true privacy.
What about security?
Speaking of those non-traditional hours…if you are going to be alone in the building, you may have questions about security. Make a point of becoming familiar with the office during the day, evening and weekend hours. Before signing any leases, visit the neighborhood at various times of the day.
What about your future plans?
While you are preparing to sign a lease is the perfect time to be thoughtful about your future plans. Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years? Most landlords prefer long term leases and are willing to provide a few additional perks like sound proofing or preferential leasing terms if you are willing to commit for longer time frames. Try to position yourself in the most advantageous way without taking on too much risk…especially if you are just starting out.
On the other hand, if all goes well and you are growing…can you easily expand your office should you need additional space for your practice? Inquire how the landlord will feel if you decide to sublet your space. Just like subletting space may have worked for you early on, it may work well for other business owners and can be helpful as an additional source of income for the times when your office is not completely in use.
Will you have creative freedom?
Will the office space you are considering allow you the creative freedom to furnish, decorate and paint your space as you see fit? Creating the environment in your private practice is key to setting the tone for the work you will do with your clients. When properly done, your office space has the power to help you establish rapport with your clients.
Stay tuned next week for more information on how.