Most companies spend very little time thinking about real estate until it is too late, but rather are intently focused on growing their business and reaching new customers. So when the time comes to consider whether your current space can meet your company’s needs both now and in the future, it’s a good idea to get help early in the process, says Joseph V. Barna, SIOR, a Principal at Cushman & Wakefield/CRESCO Real Estate.
“Let’s say you’re at the near end of your building lease and you realize you’ve outgrown your space,” Barna says. “You call a real estate broker and say, ‘We’ve outgrown our office and we need a new space. Here’s what we need. Go find it.’”
It seems simple enough. But a more introspective approach that takes into account where your company is at, the new challenges you are facing to remain competitive in your industry and the attributes of the ideal space to help you meet those challenges can make a significant difference.
“It’s important to step back and look at all the pieces and then evaluate what the best decision would be for your team and your company,” Barna says.
Smart Business spoke with Barna about some keys to making a more effective real estate decision.
What’s a good first step for a company with real estate concerns?
You have to make sure you have the right team to do the best job on whatever the assignment is going to be. But the key is to get inside that assignment before you bring in the different vendors with individual interests. For example, in order to maximize value, it’s imperative to bring in an experienced consultant before you go out and engage a construction company or an architect. Quite simply, you don’t know what you’re designing yet.
You need to work with your consultant to figure out what your business is, where it’s going and how to get there.
A good consultant can help you back up, get inside your head and find out what’s driving your decision to consider a change. Another thing that you may not understand if you’re unfamiliar with the real estate process is the lead time that is needed to successfully complete a project. If you want to do what’s best for your business, preplanning well in advance is a must.
How do you find the right partner for your company’s needs?
It’s often good to work with a company that is not affiliated with a specific product or aspect of the project, an unbiased third party that can explore all alternatives and share honest opinions about what you need. You want a team with expertise and access to what you need, but one that you trust will make the best recommendation for your business.
You want a consultant who is willing to ask hard questions and build credibility that he or she understands your goals and is willing to do what is necessary to move you toward that desired outcome. The consultant’s expertise may get you to an idea that you had never even thought of before, but that can help you exceed your expectations.
What are some ways that real estate expertise can guide you to a better decision?
For example, you currently occupy 15,000 square feet and feel that you’re out of room to accommodate new hires and need to relocate to a larger space. But an expert might look at what you have and present an alternative manner in which to reconfigure your existing space to meet your needs, improve productivity and employee moral, as well as avoid the cost of a move.
Or you could be in a warehouse and have storage concerns. But you didn’t know about sophisticated racking systems and processes that can enable you to do more with less.
You’re focused on your business and it may be that you simply don’t realize the options at your disposal. In summary, an experienced consultant can enable you to make a more informed decision by identifying solutions you might never know existed.
Insights Real Estate is brought to you by Cushman & Wakefield/CRESCO Real Estate