One thing is clear about filling vacant space in challenging markets, “it’s not business as usual”. Hanging a “for lease” sign and conventional marketing may not be enough to fill your space. The national average lease time to fill office space, believe it or not, is exceeding one year. This calls for a different approach in today’s market and adapting to changing market needs. Here are a few ideas:
Offer flexible terms that gives a tenant the opportunity to feel comfortable with the space without obligating to a long term commitment. Consider shorter term leases. Yes, even 1 year terms. This could lead to longer term commitments and renewals.
There is a growing need for month to month warehouse space and seasonal retail. Some income may be better than nothing.
Offer flexible furnished sublet space, if tenant is not using all their space. Owner’s could engage in helping the existing tenant fill the sublet space. Not just leave it up to tenant’s responsibility. Let’s face it, the reason they are subletting is to offset the rent cost. Therefore, tenant will welcome assistance to fill the unused space.
Building owners could host meetings and offer the vacant space for association functions that compliment the space use. For example, host ULI, CCIM, Green Building or NAOIP events. This brings great visibility to the building.
Improve the tenant experience. Offer new amenities to the building. For example, add Wi Fi, comfortable café areas, spruce up interior lobby and outdoor patio space (if applicable), encourage tenants to socialize. Tenants will notice the improvements and this will attract new tenants through word of mouth.
Use social networking (i.e., twitter) to generate buzz about the space.
In summary, think outside the box and align with the best interest of the tenants.
Source: Tony Casalena, CCIM