How do you put yourself in the best possible position to negotiate a commercial lease? Go in with as much leverage as humanly possible. Like anything in the world of business, that’s considerably easier said than done.
There are a few things you can do to give yourself a negotiating edge, but dozens of other things you can do to lose that leverage.
Here are just a few of them.
1. Going it Alone
There is a big difference between going into negotiations as a young startup and going in as a startup backed by a veteran commercial lease expert.
Even if your would-be building owner or manager insists that you don’t need to bring anyone else in (or doing so will cost you more), that’s all the more reason to go in with expert advice.
You’re likely not an expert in negotiating a commercial lease and your potential landlord likely is. So, bring in an expert who can match their expertise and look out for any red flags.
2. Leaving Things Until the Last Second
Procrastination leads to desperation and perceived desperation never helps your stance going into something this major.
The biggest decisions are, ironically, the easiest to put off. They require more attention and bandwidth. You might struggle to find the time and resources until you absolutely have to, i.e. you have to sign a lease by next month.
A landlord can pick up on this sense of urgency from you. They may assume that you’re willing to make a number of concessions on price and terms so that you can get this deal off your plate. And if you’re leaving this to the last minute, they may be right.
Even though you may be pressed to make this happen, make it clear that you’re also looking at other buildings that can meet your needs, and that those building managers are also very willing to work with you.
3. Tunnel Vision
Maybe you’ve locked your attention into this property because it was love at first site. Or, maybe you hate this entire process and you’re dreading the prospect of having to view/debate other properties. In either case, it’s very possible that you’ve narrowed your field of vision to just this single property, which may cause you to miss out on the big picture.
You may be willing to do/concede/pay too much to make this deal happen. Meanwhile, your tunnel vision causes you to miss out on a better deal elsewhere in the same market. Your landlord may also try to “sneak” a few things into your lease if they’ve picked up on the fact that you’re already making moving arrangements. They may know that walking away at this point would be a massive pain for you and they may try to test you.
The common theme in all of these scenarios is your landlord not feeling like you’re in a position to walk away from the deal at any point. They may feel that you’re too “green” to really push back on much, that you’re pressing to get this deal done, or that you’re so in love with the property that they can squeeze you a little bit more.
This is why we recommend always working with a professional who can spot the red flags and play hardball when necessary, so you don’t have to.
Even if you don’t think you have any leverage, they can find it for you.