My real estate team has been growing and fitting eight people into four offices was getting old, so one week ago my real estate team moved into our new offices. Believe it or not, this is something I’ve been working on for about nine months. I knew my current lease would end in December 2018, so I started looking for a new larger office space way back in September. Let me tell you something. If you think it’s challenging to find a home in this market, just try to find good, clean, available office space.
After determining what we needed, I met with our current building owner to see if he might have a larger space to accommodate our needs. We love the location of our current space and the owner does a great job of keeping the building beautiful, so I told him we’d love to stay in one of his two buildings if possible. Unfortunately at that time, he didn’t have anything available so I called my commercial agent, Nate Prather to help us find an appropriate space.
I wanted 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of space, ideally that already had 8-10 individual offices, a lobby, conference room, small kitchen, bathrooms or common area bathrooms in the building. I wanted a lot of windows and maybe a nice view. Because my real estate team now covers the entire Kansas City area, it needed to be centrally located near North Kansas City or the River Market area. And it needed to be reasonably priced around $18 to $20 per square foot with all utilities paid.
For those of you that have never had to search for commercial retail space, what I’ve just described may seem reasonable, but it’s basically a needle in a haystack. After previewing about eight properties that were currently available, I realized my criteria would need to be more flexible. Things like “windows with a view” quickly got crossed off the list. Location had to be widened to a bigger area and I had to be willing to raise my price point too. After viewing a few more properties, it also became pretty clear that I would need to spend a considerable amount of money on construction costs to build out the office space we needed, or negotiate getting the building owner to do that for us. Either way, even though there are a fair amount of office spaces out there to rent, I couldn’t find anything that fit our needs.
As we got to the last month of our current lease, I started to get desperate. I started asking everyone I knew if they know someone that has available office space. Fortunately, my landlord was very nice about it and offered to let me rent month-to-month. Obviously he wanted to keep us in the building because I pay on time and never complain, but he still didn’t have anything available that was big enough for our needs.
It was around the middle of January that a funny thing happened. For months, I’d pass John Willoughby in the hallway of our current offices and say to him, “John, when are you going to move out of those offices so I can move in there?” John runs Union Mortgage and they have a nice suite of 12 offices downstairs in my building. I would joke with him, “You don’t need all that office space. You only have around six people working there and you’re paying for all that extra vacant office space.” John would smile and tell me, “Well Ron, we have a longer term lease and we’ve been here forever. We’re not moving anytime soon.”
Ironically, I wasn’t the only one that thought they had excess office space, because in mid-January John came into my office and asked to sit down with me to discuss something private. He told me the corporate office called him in last week and said they need to drastically cut costs and ordered him to start looking for a smaller office space that would cut their monthly lease cost in half. He said, “I know we’ve been joking about you moving into my offices, but I wanted to know if you’re serious about that.”
I couldn’t believe it. John’s offices were exactly what I’ve been looking for. They have 12 private offices with windows in every office, a huge lobby, a big conference room, a kitchen, and best of all, it’s right downstairs in the same building we’re in right now. I couldn’t believe it! John explained that they have a long term lease in place, but the landlord said he would let them out of that lease if they’d stay within his two building complex and if they could help find someone that was willing to take over their current space.
I spoke with the landlord about this and I sensed he was worried about this space sitting vacant. He practically begged me to take it. He offered to give me the same low monthly rate that Union Mortgage had if I could be flexible and stay in my current space a little longer until they got Union Mortgage moved into a new space. This was everything I needed so I quickly agreed.
On top of all that, one month later, Union Mortgage decided they didn’t need all their furniture and sold me all the desks, chairs, tables, artwork, and filing cabinets at a cheap price. We have this saying in my office, “Everything works out in Ron Henderson World.” I was really happy this one worked out. We’re now in our new offices just downstairs from our old office. We have more space to grow and I’m loving it! If you want to stop by sometime, we’re in Suite 206.