By Calum Harper, Account Director at Search Office Space.
Making the next big move is a situation all growing companies will need to face. Even in my own personal life I relocated from my hometown of Solihull to the big smoke on a bit of a whim and had to quickly adapt to a new way of life.
I thought I had it all planned out, but as life threw me curveballs I had to adapt and be flexible. This could not be more apparent in the current property market when my clients are searching for new office space. From working to extremely strict briefs or on the contrary incredibly flexible requirements, we all make mistakes in the search process.
Yes, naturally I will have a bias towards the serviced office market, after all that is my career. Yes, the market is sometimes looked at as mega expensive and removes your sense of identity, but once you scratch past the surface and see the types of companies who have moved into serviced office space, you may think twice – that could be another list to make. I love a list.
Regardless, for a bit of fun I thought I would share my experience of the top 5 mistakes that we make when searching for new space.
1. Searching too early
You realise your current contract ends in 18 months. You receive notice that your premises is being demolished to make way for fancy new flats. You panic. You pick up the phone to 12 different agencies and you are ambushed by a hoard of calls trying to help … Breathe.
I work with so many companies who hit that panic button so early and the honest answer is that I cannot help you until closer to the time.
Within serviced space, notice periods range from 1-3 months, so there is no way for me to understand what will be available in May 2020. I would say 1-6 months in advance is perfect. It means we can work quickly for an urgent need or map out future spaces and new buildings for a slower process.
Essentially, relax. We can find you office space within a day or within 3 months – covering all possible options and making sure you find the perfect space
2. Not being open minded
How many times have you been in a shop searching for one thing and come out with something completely different that will do the job and so much more?
Many clients come to me initially with a strict brief on what they think they really need, but once we have discussed why they need it, they don’t actually need what they thought they did (that was wordy!)
So many clients who are in a lease think the only option is another lease, but once I have explained the serviced market to them, they soon realise this is not the case. I hear myself day in day out explaining ‘take what you need, not what you plan to have.’ Who knows what is going to happen over the next year. Birmingham City FC may win the league (unlikely).
The flexibility to expand within serviced space as you grow means you do not pay for dead space.
The serviced market can give you your own private office for the team, then you have access to kitchens, breakout spaces, business lounges etc across the whole provider portfolio. You have a meeting in the City but your office is in the West End? No bother – use the provider’s building in the city for the meeting. Bish bosh you’ve met with that customer who was not willing to travel to you and you have secured a new contract.
Tip of the iceberg, but hopefully that makes sense
Budget, budget, budget. Fun fact – when I brought my house I spent more than I had initially planned. Shocking I know.
Cost is so important – of course, but with the market being so flexible, costing is negotiated on every deal I have ever worked on. I find the space that works for the client, and then we focus on getting the price we are looking for.
Is there value in paying that little bit extra to get your team in a space with an incredible culture that makes them love a Monday? Your call.
I will find options below, on and over budget for you and do everything in the background to get the best possible commercial deal on the table. I can’t do this unless you have found a space you are passionate about.
I am not saying you must spend the whole budget, but be flexible to see what is available to you.
4. Getting cold feet
We have found the office. It is perfect for the team, for the business and the gut feel is to take the space. The price has been negotiated and it is a dream deal. I call for the final green light … Voicemail. I email, no response. 5 days later I hear back saying the client is ready to go ahead – Great.
Too late. Another company has taken the space at a higher price and after 2 months of work we are 3 steps backwards and the feeling is that I have let you down.
This happens all too often. It is not the end of the world; I will be back in that market to locate an equally great space but from here everything will not quite compare to ‘the one that got away’.
You have to be ballsy. Yes, it’s a big decision but if it ticks every box, grab it with both hands or someone else will.
5. Making 100 enquiries online
The office market is finite. We are the longest running office broker in the market and have access to the best pool of offices on the market. Our competitors work with many of the same providers so when a client enquires with lots of different agencies, the search is duplicated time and time again.
It causes a real headache. It gets messy and it becomes incredibly frustrating for everyone involved – trust me.
Now, I am not saying just use me (well I am), but pick your agent/broker by their knowledge and connections. Trust them and they will find you the space you thought was out of reach.
On that note – If you are thinking about the next move and have managed to read to this point – get in touch, I am here to help.