Searching for commercial office space can be an exciting endeavor; there are so many potential options, no matter the reason for your search. However, while your adrenaline is rushing as you imagine how your company might fit inside those four walls, it is critical to stay grounded and ask important questions that can ultimately determine your long-term satisfaction in the space. If there is a time to ask all of those questions about your potential space, the property tour is it!
Between the listing agent and your broker, you will have a wealth of readily available knowledge about the property’s history, condition, amenities, and location. This is what you should be asking to help you determine if the space you are touring is the best fit for your company:
- How visible is my space to customers?
Exposure and visibility can be critical to a company’s success. You are most likely aware of the property’s general location since you’ve agreed to the tour, but this is the chance to see the physical building and its proximity to the street and other major thoroughfares. Will customers be able to easily locate the building? What about the location of your space inside the building: is it easily identifiable? Is there significant signage to direct customers, such as a tenant directory?
- How do customers access my space?
Tying into the first question, accessing a building is not always as easy as it may seem. Some buildings automatically lock their doors past a certain hour, or the hours of open access might not align with your business hours. Some buildings will have a receptionist or security guard that can give visitors access to your floor. If not, you may have to leave your office to greet your visitors and escort them to your suite. This may factor into your customers’ overall experience.
- Where is employee/visitor parking?
Parking is an important amenity for commercial space. Is there on-site parking or will your employees and visitors have to find a nearby availability? If so, what are the rates at those parking areas and will that cost need to be factored into your total cost of moving? If there is on-site parking, it’s important to know who the other building tenants are and how many parking spots they currently use. The last thing you want is an employee or visitor to be frustrated by a parking situation! It is important to be aware of all the potential options before choosing your new office.
- Who are the other tenants in the building?
If you are touring a commercial space that is located within a multi-tenant building, it is important to know your neighbors. Are there competitors in the building? This has the potential to affect where you can run wires and cables in your new space. They could pose a potential threat to your business, possibly taking your customers. Conversely, are you in the same building as a company that has the ability to complement your services? It may be convenient and possibly save money for your business.
- What is the condition of the HVAC system?
HVAC repairs can be extremely costly, so it is important to have the most up-to-date information on them. Not only should you be asking about its condition, but you should also be asking if your rent includes HVAC for the entire building as well as your space. Does the system run after hours? If so, does it cost more to operate after hours? It is also important to know how often maintenance is performed on the HVAC system and, if failure does occur, whose responsibility is it to replace it? If you decide to reconfigure your office, can the system be rebalanced? These are all questions that factor into the comfort of your employees and visitors.
- Does the building have onsite management/maintenance?
Onsite stationary maintenance and engineers can be a huge benefit, but whether or not they’re onsite depends on the complexity of the building systems. If there is no maintenance on-site, it is important to know how to report any issues, such as electrical or HVAC problems. Additionally, will you have to hire a cleaning service or is there one provided? These questions can determine if there are additional costs or if more research needs to be completed on your end.
- Is there access to a freight elevator?
If you’re relocating to a multi-story building, and plan on moving any hefty equipment such as printers, desks, and conference tables a freight elevator will get the job done quickly and efficiently. If your business requires moving large quantities or heavy equipment in and out of the building, then it will be critical that there is an easily accessible freight elevator.
- Is the building handicap accessible?
While most commercial office buildings are up to code when it comes to accessibility, it is always important to double check all parts of the building to be certain. This means there must be access to an elevator (if multi-story), wide-entry doors, properly equipped bathrooms, designated parking, a wheelchair ramp, and any other necessary accommodations.
- What is the property owner’s build-out policy?
You need to feel comfortable in your space and a huge part of that is the layout of your office. It is unusual to come across a space that is configured exactly how you envision it for your company. While looking at the commercial space, you will more than likely find yourself wanting to make some changes that are specific to what your company needs. It is important to understand what a building owner will allow you to do with the space and if there is a tenant improvement allowance included in your rent.
- Is the building wired to support the company’s technological needs?
Modern commercial office space has come a long way. As businesses grow and change, so has the need for Wi-Fi access, high-speed internet, conference lines, video conferencing, and other modern technologies. It is important to make sure that the commercial office you choose can support all of the forms of technology that are critical for your business operations.
Although we know these will not be the only questions you ask during your commercial property tour, we do hope they guide you in the right direction to finding the space that best fits your company’s needs. If you have any questions about touring a commercial property, or if you are currently looking for commercial space, give our brokerage team a call at (716) 631-8000 or visit our brokerage services page.