This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
By Tara Palacios
“Location, location, location.”
We’ve all heard the famous real estate saying — it’s all about location, location, location.
Customers value a location they can easily get to and parking. Popular pedestrian and neighborhood destinations are key for a small business to thrive.
Strategically targeted locations throughout Arlington fit the bill; however, before you sign a lease you need to keep in mind not to fall in love before you follow these simple steps.
Tip 1: Understand the Regulations
Commercial property is governed by Arlington’s Zoning Ordinance. Once you’ve identified a potential location you can check with the County’s interactive Zoning Map to see if the business use can be conducted in the leasable space.
Familiarize yourself with any policies that may impact the day-to-day operations of your business. For example, if you are interested in opening a Childcare Center your facility will need access to outdoor space — all regulations that can impact where you decide to locate your business.
If you have questions about regulations feel free to reach out to BizLaunch before you fall in love with a space.
Tip 2: Hire a Real Estate Broker
Finding the perfect location can take time.
The average length of time to find a retail location is between one to two years. The more experts you have helping you the better.
Space can be competitive; however, at the end of the day do not fall in love until the lease negotiations have ended. A broker can help identify space (that may not be published) and help with negotiations. Most landlords do not want to negotiate directly with the business owner.
Tip 3: Negotiate the Lease
A lease is meant to be negotiated prior to signature by both parties. Do not accept the proposed terms without having a professional review. If an offer is not favorable to your business prepare to walk away.
One example, of an area to negotiate is when the lease will commence. An entrepreneur can request to have the lease begin after construction is complete and a certificate of occupancy is issued. This could save money for the business owner in case of buildout delays.
Do not fall in love until the keys are in your hand and the terms of the lease are finalized. Need help? Contact BizLaunch.
Stay tuned. BizLaunch will be offering a course on lease negotiations in the fall. You can sign up here to keep up with the latest workshops and networking opportunities.