By: Judy L. Huch, AuD
Audiological Office Management: Moving
One of our offices was recently moved a few miles into town from its original location. The office prospered for 15 years in that location, but the five-year renewal was up and it was time to decide whether to stay in the same location, move to another location, or close and concentrate all efforts on a single office. This area of Audiological Office Management will be a highlight in The Audiology Condition from time to time.
These are issues all private practitioners face when leases come up for renewal, often at 3- or 5-year intervals. What influences the choices to go one way or another? In our case, much of the choice hinged on the landlord at the time. At the 5-year point, re-negotiation became a challenge.
Lease Negotiation Points
- How many properties are available in the targeted area?
- What is the asking price per square foot?
- How long has it been since there have been any tenant improvements?
- Who paid for the improvements, tenant or landlord?
- Have there been annual increases in your lease payments?
- Have there been new similar service offices opening around current office?
One negotiating item to use on a renewal is to tie the increases of rent payment to the local economy. We used this in 2010, to our advantage. The landlord bet the recession would rebound quickly. All indicators from local realtor networks indicated the economy was not rebounding at all, and most likely would not for several years. We bet with the realtor prediction, that the local economy would stall.
Both parties gambled on how much the rent might increase. The negotiation ended up working in our favor from 2010-2015 — the economy did stall and our rent stayed stable, with little increase over the five year period. It was a good negotiating tactic but not one the landlord was willing to entertain again in 2015 during lease renewal.
It was time to look for new space, a new landlord, and a better lease.
Locating Viable Space
Nine months prior to lease end, we began working with a commercial realtor. He printed out over 50 locations in a 5 mile radius. The length and offerings on the list made two things clear:
- Commercial real estate was not rebounding, unlike the residential market.
- The increase demanded by the current landlord was not substantiated.
We communicated these findings to the landlord, who gave no indication of backing down. The search began for a new location.
In ensuing months, the results continued to be good, confirming items 1 and 2 above. A larger area with a lower price per square foot than the current lease came up right away. Even better than more space at less money, the property came with a five year lease that included 95% of tenant improvements (TI), including two sound booths built into the space. We signed the lease, made the move, and are living happily ever after until the next lease negotiation.
An added pleasure of moving was the opportunity to thin out 15 years’ worth of “stuff” that did not make the move with us. We arrived in the new space slimmer and better looking, and our patients noticed the improvement right away!