How Do I Find an Office to Rent?
Tampa is nationally ranked as one of the best large cities in which to start a business. Thanks to Florida’s business-friendly atmosphere, advantageous tax programs, deep and wide talent pool, affordable office space, and other factors – including the great weather and culture! – this is a prime area in which to launch an idea into a viable business and grow existing companies into strong, healthy organizations. You’re starting out, so you need an office for rent. How do you find the right fit for your business?
5 Steps to Rent or Lease Office Space in Tampa
Here are some best practices when you’re looking for an office to rent:
1. Start By Assessing Your Needs
You’re excited; you have a vision, and you want to bring it to life. But first, stop and consider the practicalities. Assess your needs in terms of:
Space. How much space do you need? Take into account the number of employees you have, as well as the type of workspace they need. Do you require dedicated workspace for specific employees and/or management? A general rule is to allow 75-150 square feet per employee and 150-400 square feet per management-level staff.
Additionally, determine whether you need conference and meeting rooms, a waiting area, copy room, break room, etc.
For a good idea of your space requirements, take the square footage estimates, multiply the number of employees and managers, and then add about 30% for common areas. If you need to account for anticipated growth, add another 10-20%.
Employee Needs. What type of work do your employees do, and what type of layout do they need to best be productive? Is an open space concept ideal, or do you need private offices and task-specific spaces?
Parking. Oh, this is big! Think about the number of employees you have, how many clients visit regularly, and how frustrated they will become if they have to circle the block four times to find a spot.
Location. On a similar note, assess your location needs. Your office needs to be accessible to employees, vendors, suppliers, and clients. Are there major roadways and interstates nearby? How about public transit?
2. Establish a Budget
For this step, you will need to look at average costs to rent or lease office space in Tampa. (Note: currently, this is about $27/square foot – compared to $75/square foot in Manhattan). Now, multiply this by your space requirements, as we went over in step 1.
Next, add maintenance and utility costs. You will most often have to cover common area maintenance fees (e.g. elevators, lobby, hallways) based on your occupied square footage. Also, look at average utility rates in Tampa to determine how much to budget for this expense.
3. Search for Suitable Office Space
Let the search begin! It is advisable to take two steps:
Research and do your own leg work
Work with a tenant-broker
Let’s go into each.
Doing your own research is essential. This is your business and livelihood. It is important that you are informed and knowledgeable about every detail as you search for an office for rent. You can use the Office Evolution website, and others, to generate ideas. Just see what’s out there, at first, so you can familiarize yourself with the office rental/lease landscape.
You can also look into key factors, such as:
The neighborhood or surrounding area. Make sure the neighborhood meets your needs in terms of location, walkability, amenities, services, etc.
Ease of access. As mentioned, it is essential that employees, clients, customers, vendors, and suppliers be able to easily access your office space.
Security. Does the building have features like outdoor lighting, cameras, gates, security staff? Your needs will differ based on the nature of your work (e.g. keeping large amounts of cash or expensive equipment onsite).
The Building’s Class. Properties may be Class A (new, full amenities, great features, well-managed, high profile tenants), B (a bit older, more maintenance needs, fewer amenities), or C (older, more maintenance, few amenities, potentially undesirable neighborhood). What do you need, and how much are you willing and able to pay?
Office Amenities. What does your rent or lease include? Do they offer amenities like gyms, day cares, cafes, etc.?
Parking. Again! This is so important. Do not neglect looking at available spaces for employees, customers, and vendors/suppliers.
A tenant-broker can help with all of this, assessing your needs and matching you with suitable properties. A tenant-broker prioritizes your needs (not that of the owner). You can also leverage their local knowledge, exclusive (or pocket) listings, negotiating skills, and extensive networks.
4. Get Your Finances In Order
Get your ducks in a row, as it were. You will need to:
Gather and organize key financial documents. Make sure you have balance sheets, tax returns, bank records, and profit and loss statements for at least two to three years (unless you are a startup). You must demonstrate your ability to meet financial obligations.
Provide references. Owners often require references from your previous landlords. Request reference letters so you can demonstrate a solid and reliable rental history. Do this as early in your search for an office as possible.
Provide a Personal Guarantee. Speak with an attorney first. Some building owners require a personal guarantee, stating that you will comply with the lease terms, even if you vacate the premises.
A real estate attorney and/or your tenant broker can help you with these steps.
5. Select an Office and Negotiate Your Lease Terms
With your own research and help from your tenant-broker, you will identify a handful of office spaces that meet your requirements. The good news is that if you did engage a tenant-broker, they’ll handle the lease negotiation. Still, it is good to understand what types of leases are most commonly used:
Full-Service. In this type of lease, the landlord is responsible for expenses like property taxes, insurance, repairs, maintenance, utilities, and janitorial services. This is the most advantageous lease for you as a tenant.
Net. Here, the landlord offers a lower annual rent than you’d see in a full-service lease, but includes “usual costs” for common area maintenance, property taxes, and property insurance.
Modified Gross. You will pay a portion of the property tax, property insurance, and common area maintenance as a lump sum with your rent. There are no unexpected charges.
Remember that everything is negotiable. Look at the base rent, length of your lease term, possible credits if you make improvements, rent escalations, and other important aspects involving your commitment to this space. Here, too, your tenant-broker can come in handy. If you take the time to select an experienced broker, they will work to get you the best deal.
Think Outside the Office Box
There are alternatives outside the traditional methods of finding an office for rent. If you determine that you need a more flexible solution, you can rent space by the month, or as needed for conference/meeting rooms. This allows you to project the image you want, enjoy the functionality you need for productivity, and maximize your budget.
It’s one more option to think about as you seek to rent or lease office space in Tampa.
Ready to take the plunge – and take advantage of Tampa’s business-friendly climate? Start your search by calling Office Evolution. We can help answer your questions and make informed decisions for your company’s future.