Lookin’ for Tenants in All the Wrong Places

The Destination

It has been 18 months since we launched our pilot program for Tenant Rep Brokers and I’m thrilled to say that it has been an overwhelming success!  In fact, since we launched, others have tried to copy our model which is further validation of the market opportunity.  However, their captive audience isn’t necessarily tenants that are searching for space and is reflected in the quality of those leads.

2012 and 2013 were record years for us over multiple metrics and 2014 seems to be on the same overall trajectory, if not better:OfficeSpaceUserGrowthOfficeSpace.com continues to be the premier destination for tenants that are actively looking for space.

The Program

Tenant Connect is our broker marketing program specifically designed for tenant representation brokers from the ground up.  Our platform allows prospective tenants to reach out to our Tenant Connect Brokers directly as they are searching for available spaces while on OfficeSpace.com.  These inquiries or contacts can happen via email or phone and are tracked in our system and relayed directly to the broker.  It is truly a platform that works for both the Tenant and the Tenant Reps.  Best of all, as a tenant rep, you don’t have to do anything to source the clients, you just have to qualify and respond to the inquiries…something you all do currently.

Overall results for the past 18 months:

  • Approximately $500,000 in commission revenue generated for the broker
  • Over 6,500 contacts directly delivered to the broker
  • Over 115 closings with a large pipeline
  • Our broker churn rate is flat at 0%, everyone is seeing the value

The Journey

All our current tenant connect brokers are reaping the benefits of adopting early as they are all generating commissions and have secured their spot in their respective markets.  All our pilot cities are currently full but we are always building out wait lists.  Additionally, we make proactive changes to our tenant connect broker pools based on performance and user reviews, which helps us improve our tenant experience.

What some of our Tenant Connect Brokers have to say:

Overall – the use of OfficeSpace.com has enhanced my ability as a broker tenfold – I truly cannot imagine getting going without a tool like this.  My interest in inbound leads and how to qualify, nurture and then cultivate them has proven a great asset to Colliers –and an invaluable learning experience with your tool.  I look forward to many more years of successful partnership – and would encourage any and all feedback you have for me in the future. — Sam Devorris (Colliers, Denver)


(in 4 months) Have received over $30,000 in commissions my efforts have generated from the leads so obviously it has worked for me! — Scott Driver (Scott Driver & Company, Seattle)


The main reason for enjoying the TC Broker Program over the last two years is the ease of quality inbound leads and income, not just the immediate 5 figure deals but the future 5/6 figure deals when leases roll/renew/relocate.  I have never done a six-figure lease with Office Space yet, but in 2013 and 2014 so many deals were in the five-figure range. I also have a 62 month deal in the highest priced building in all of San Diego County today from an Office Space lead – anyone can call me about it, and I will note how easy it was to get.

In our competitive commercial real estate environment to have so many office leads come in that are coming from areas that you would otherwise have to be LinkedIn, be introduced, or network to meet the President or CEO, OfficeSpace.com is able to cut right to the front of the line.  

I recommend OfficeSpace.com to all tenant reps, the only problem is not all tenant reps can become a member, so I tell them in minutes to sign up or get back to LinkedIn, be introduced, or network. — Michael Mazzotta (XREIT, San Diego)

The Opportunity

We’ve learned over the past few years how to attract and keep prospective users on the site and we will continue to listen, learn, and refine our services.  The team at OfficeSpace.com is aggressively expanding our listing base throughout the nation and this will allow us to bring this platform to many more markets in the near future.

If you are interested in being a leader with entrepreneurial foresight, contact us for more information and reserve your spot as we offer this platform in your market:

Don’t miss out like so many brokers in our pilot markets did, by letting the herd mentality take over.  Many of those that missed out was simply due to waiting to see who would join the program.

After all, where else can you tap into a steady profitable stream of prospective tenants actively looking for your help?

Where are you looking to find tenants?

Broker Banter – Questions & Answers (The Portland Chapter)

We’re the first to admit we don’t always have all the answers when it comes to the fine details of leasing and all the questions that come with it. That’s when we turn to our commercial comrades to aid with the broadening of our knowledge base.  This week we’ve gone straight to the source to speak with Portland, OR broker Kristi Ricker.

We connected with Kristi to talk shop, and in fact, where to set up shop.

OfficeSpace: What do you think is the most important question a tenant should be asking, that they never seem to ask when looking for space?

Kristi: Zoning, tenants need to learn more out about zoning. There are so many issues in this area and if you’re not aware of this in the beginning it could hurt your chances of securing your ideal space. It’s something you should ask your broker about as they’ll be able to determine how to move forward in narrowing down your search. It’s just not something that’s on the top of your mind when you’re looking for a space and it definitely should be.

OfficeSpace: What is the best tip in negotiating a lease you think all tenants should consider? 

Kristi: The longer the lease, the better you’re going to be able to negotiate, especially if you are going to need anything done to your space. People are nervous with the idea of securing a 5 year lease, they think “What if something happens?” – but they can always put a clause in allowing them to sublease (A lease of a property by a tenant to a subtenant.).

OfficeSpace: What do tenants focus on, that perhaps they shouldn’t when searching for space?

Kristi: Recently, I’ve had clients who have looked at a space and were concerned the buildings around it were being worked on or unfinished. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always paint a pretty picture of the neighborhood, especially when it’s an up and coming urban area. I recommend looking at the bigger finished picture and inquiring about what’s being developed in the area.

OfficeSpace: What area of town would you recommend to a Start-Up in Portland?

Kristi: The inner Southeast, Northeast and North Portland are very hot right now. They were predominantly industrial areas and now they’ve turned into these very creative pockets with great opportunities for startups, restaurants, retail and more.

OfficeSpace: What are you starting to see more of in Portland?

Kristi: Tons of startups, restaurants, breweries, delis – there’s a great food scene here.

OfficeSpace: And lastly, what makes Portland great?

Kristi: Portland‘s so diverse, we have a little bit of everything for everyone. Everything goes here – that’s what I love about it. I see all these new ideas here and they seem to work. If you have a crazy, fun new idea, there’s a great support network for that here. It just seems out of the ordinary things work here more than other places. Nothing is guaranteed but your chances of making it a go seems to have better odds in Portland.

Kristi has over 15 years of real estate experience in the greater Portland area and has recently started her own company.

Need Office, Retail or Industrial Space in Portland? Visit us here – OfficeSpace.com/Portland

A Successful Start-Up Story – Founder’s Instinct, Go Direct.

As I discussed on my last article, The #1 Mistake Many Start-Ups Make When Managing Growth-Remember the Garage?, I wanted to share with you an anecdote from a well established web company in Seattle, that will remain anonymous, let’s call them Dot.com.

Looking Good, Billy Ray! Feeling Good, Louis!

The year is 2010, and Dot.com has done extremely well for themselves. The founder’s acquired the domain name and other assets for under $5,000 and proceeded to build it into a top 100 most visited websites in the US, over a span of 7 years.

They have gone through a couple of office moves. Each move they upgraded and eventually ended up in some Class A space in the heart of Seattle, which  has a fairly competitive office market.

Shortly after they move into their space, they are already needing additional space. They had a couple hockey sticks in their growth chart! The founder heard that the neighboring tenant was looking to sublease some space, exactly what Dot.com was looking for.

Let’s Make a Deal

The founder calls his trusted commercial broker who found them their current digs and instructs them to place an offer of $15/sf on a short-term lease on the neighbor’s space. The broker informs him that they didn’t even get as much as a response to our offer from the landlord’s brokers. The founder assumes that maybe the offer was insultingly low.

The next week, the founder just happens to run into the neighbor and decided to ask about the space, nothing to lose since they already rejected the offer.  It was clear at this point that the neighbor never even saw the offer. Much to the founder’s surprise, the neighboring tenant seemed remarkably eager for Dot.com to pick up their space. They shook hands and came to an agreement for $3.60/sf on the spot.

This is just one example where the broker channel was ineffective and this isn’t necessarily a knock on brokers but more a reflection of the commission based compensation model that brokers live in, a you get what you pay for mantra.

Bravo to the founder for going direct and cutting out the middleman; probably another reason why Dot.com is still so successful.

The #1 mistake many startups make when managing growth. Remember the garage?


In a galaxy far, far away…

In the beginning, most start-ups follow a certain pattern:

  • Inspiration leads to the “killer” idea
  • Bootstrapping
  • Sourcing Capital
  • Recruiting an A-Team
  • Product Development
  • Building an Infrastructure
  • Iteration
  • Managing increasing Costs
  • Growth

There are many versions of the story but in my own career and listening to the anecdotes of many other entrepreneurs, most folks like you and I have sang and are singing the same song.

Boot Strappin’ 

In the early stages, everyone including founding members are wearing many hats.

  • You may be starting your empire from the confines of your garage.
  •  You may be able to delegate certain tasks to your founding team of two.
  • You may want to hire or outsource but the cost benefit may not make sense at this time.
  • This may not be most efficient but it’s cost effective.

Everyone is burning the midnight oil to get to market as quick as possible and the Agile Development model is adopted. Your development team is furiously taking feedback and the products and business models evolve. You and your team have proof of concept now and the future looks bright.

Your first two revenue models don’t produce as you hoped they would, so you scrap them and finally find a revenue model that works for you.  Soon, the revenue grows from a trickle to a stream and it looks like it will be a steady stream. Life is good and all the blood, sweat, and tears seem to be paying off. Team morale is high and even the instant noodles taste infinitely better!

You Did What with My Money???

Depending on your cash situation, this may be the time you seek additional funding. You’ve proved your concept, generated revenue, and now you’re looking to scale that model. I won’t go into valuation models, capital structures, or optimal equity distribution, but another major attribute that most investors want to see is fiscal responsibility.

When I talk about fiscal responsibility, I don’t mean extreme conservatism, as say an accountant would, but more of a prudent balance of risk, reward, and stewardship. There will be a certain amount of cash burn related to the Agile Development process as some features will be pushed to the side or scrapped all together, but cash burn that locks you into long term contracts that increase your fixed cost structure that may not contribute to the business are things to look out for. This may be one of the most overlooked aspects of the start-up life.

Pre-Y2K Hysteria

In the early go-go internet days, many companies got to this stage and proceeded to secure prime Class A office space with room to spare for their burgeoning venture only to find out that they over estimated the growth that they would experience. This left many start-ups in a precarious position, after all, most start-ups aren’t experts in commercial real estate.

There are many more practical options for office space nowadays. We will always have the garage to start out in, move to a shared or co-working space, perhaps graduate to an executive suite space, or look for a screaming deal on a sublease space offered by perhaps some of the less fiscally prudent start-ups out there.

Your Space Says A Lot 

Many successful entrepreneurs look fondly on their days of bootstrapping:

  • Remember when we had to float all our credit card balances to pay for the gear?
  • I miss those days all 5 of us were huddled on top of each other in the basement working 14 hour days.
  • It’s lunch time, 7-Eleven or the Gas Station?

Another common thread among many successful entrepreneurs is balancing image from reality. From the type of marketing spend to the type of office they lease. Don’t be fashionable, be fundamental. If you just raised money, it can be difficult to justify contracting for prime office space when you’d rather hire more people to get you to your goal.  Not only will your investors appreciate this, so will all other equity stakeholders.

For all you start-ups out there, the sublease space may provide you with the most flexibility and lowest cost to leasing office space. Unfortunately, this market is underserved and is sometimes difficult to find. Many brokers also aren’t very helpful in this type of space search as they have to put in the same amount of time as a normal search but only get paid a fraction of their commission rate, on a sublease.

Craigslist is the most common place to find the smaller sublease spaces out there and they do a great job of aggregating those spaces. However, as many of you are familiar with, the craigslist experience is not for everyone, especially those that don’t have much time to spend on sifting through endless ads. Let alone setting up tours and other logistical tasks.

As you can guess, I work for a start-up called OfficeSpace.com and we focus not only on larger spaces, but smaller spaces and sublease spaces as well. We are looking to solve the small and sublease space problem and we’ve launched our Beta in Portland.

Stay tuned for my next article, where I will share an example of another start-ups’ experience. All the best to the brash, brave, and entrepreneurial companies out there. All comments are welcome!

Image credit: http://creativehomeoffices.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Basement-Before-e1328914683809.jpg

Image credit: http://www.lifeknowledgefm.com/what-is-bootstrapping/

Is re-founder even a word?

is Re-founder even a word?I’m not a stickler for grammar, but I want to know if this at least makes sense.  A quick search for re-founder brought me to dictionary.com’s definition – “one who refounds” but “refound” has no definition.  Okay, not so helpful but then I stumbled upon linkedin and bingo, someone who has the title refounder, and that’s what I’m talking about.  I may find myself explaining this to people more often than I want, but basically what this means for me is that even though OfficeSpace.com is a 15 year old company, we’re back in start-up mode.  That’s really the most concise way I can think to explain what we’re doing with this “new” company.

We’re taking a good look at our business and our opportunities for growth.  Evaluating the office space market, there are great resources for brokers, landlords and property managers but limited options if you’re an actual tenant looking for space, even fewer options if you are a tenant looking for smaller spaces.   Our goal is to change that and create an effective marketplace for both tenants and landlords/brokers.  We’ve been busy at work over the past year, our small team of 7.  Stay tuned, we’ve got some exciting new stuff that should launch in the early part of 2012.

Susie Algard, re-founder.