So our agency just moved into a spankin' new space, and as the drills continue to whirl in my head as I type, I thought I'd lay down a Tip Sheet for those of you considering doing your own version of "Trading Spaces." Whether your move is happening in months or years, save this article. I promise that this will serve you well. I also hope this sparks other tips from readers who have been down this exciting, frustrating, lonnnng and wiiiiinding rooooaaad.
- If you aren't incredibly patient, or you do get stressed out easily, don't move. Period. No matter what, it will take a long time and things will come up.
- Know your brand (y'all will have fun with that of course). Your agency's brand will dictate everything about everything when it comes to your space. No, you're not an interior designer, but knowing whether your agency is more Jetsons than Boston Legal will help big time.
- Speaking of interior design, lean on the graphic designer in your agency (maybe it's you!). I've found that my main man Matt was incredibly helpful when it came down to design and color choices. They do it every day -- just a new playing field for them that actually improves design chops they're using every day for your clients.
- If this is your first big move, understand you don't know what you're doing related to corporate real estate, the law, architecture, cabling, voice/data, and pretty much everything. Hire professionals in every area! Yes, it costs more, but the frustration and time you save (while still being able to work on your business) is so much more important.
- Related to the above, nothing is more important than hiring a good corporate real-estate professional to represent you. It's great to know what you want, but only the real-estate guru can make it happen, from taking you on tours of dozens of spaces to (endless!) negotiations related to square footage costs, terms of lease, and more. Put it in their hands and step away from the tram car, please.
- T.I.: Tenant Improvement Allowance. This is the $$$s your landlord is advising you he will provide for you to make your space all pretty. There will most likely be quite a chasm between what the landlord will give you versus the construction costs to do what you'd like to do to the space. Close the cost for construction gap without sacrificing too much of what you want your space to say.
- Hire people to help you that you genuinely like. You'll be having many, many conversations with them. Yes, you may high-five each other one day and bury your head in frustration the next. Just keep going and stay out of their way.
- Repeat after me: Marketing is collaborative. Negotiating for space is not. I learned this the hard way every time I tried to implore my real-estate guru to "get everyone on the same page."
- There are costs that hide so deeply, they are practically invisible. Dig as deep as you can to ensure you have all the costs that are your responsibility brought to the surface before you dive in!
- Thank everyone involved -- often. They're trying to do their job to the best of their ability, and in my case, man did they succeed! Since this winding road started January 25, 2006 (remember that thing I said about patience?), we are finally in, and it's a dream space in every sense. To that end, I would be remiss not to thank "Team Agile" who made it all happen. (Terribly unabashed plugs follow but I never do that, so thanks for understanding):
Stockton Real Estate Advisors: Jim Paterno & Kevin Farley
Partridge Architects: John Partridge and Natasha Cave
Lakash Construction: Angelique Feuillet
CFI: Corporate Facilities: Jenn Gorski (amazing furniture!)
Madden & Madden: Matt Madden (my brother and counsel)
And finally, Lou Lombardi, my new landlord. As nice a guy you could ask to owe rent to every month. Thank you, Lou.
As they say in Hollywood, it's a wrap.