For many massage therapy clinic owners, negotiating a good lease or lease renewal against an experienced agent or landlord can be a challenge. Massage tenants may go through the leasing process once or twice in their entire lifetime, yet they have to negotiate against seasoned professionals who negotiate leases every day for a living.
Whether you are negotiating a lease renewal or leasing a new location for the first time for your clinic, these are some tips for massage therapy tenants:
- Negotiate to win: All too frequently, massage therapy tenants enter into lease negotiations unprepared and don’t even try to win negotiations. If you are not negotiating to win, you won’t. With big commissions at stake, you can be sure the landlord’s agent is negotiating fiercely to win. Massage therapy tenants should remember it is okay to negotiate aggressively.
- Be prepared to walk away: Try to set aside your emotions, and make objective decisions. Whoever most needs to make a lease deal will give up the most concessions. A good massage therapy clinic in a poor location may not achieve its full potential.
- Ask the right questions: Gathering information about how much rent other tenants are paying or what incentives they received will position you to get a better deal. Ask the right questions. Consider your landlord and his agent know what every other tenant in the property is paying in rent, so you must do your homework, too.
- Brokers … friend or foe? Real estate agents and brokers typically work for the landlord who is paying their commission. It is not normally the agent’s role to get the massage therapy tenant the best deal-–it is their job to get the landlord the highest rent, the biggest deposit, etc. The higher rent you pay, the more commission the agent earns. If you are researching multiple properties, try to deal directly with the listing agent for each property, rather than letting one agent show you around or show you another agent’s listing. Your tenancy is more desirable to the listing agent if he can avoid commission-splitting with other agents.
- Never accept the first offer: Even if the first offer seems reasonable, or you have no idea of what to negotiate for, never accept the leasing agent’s first offer. In the real estate industry, most things are negotiable, and the landlord fully expects you to counteroffer.
- Ask for more than you want: If you want three months free rent, then ask for five months. No one ever gets more than he/she asks for. Be prepared for the landlord to counteroffer and negotiate with you as well. Don’t be afraid of hearing “no” from the landlord; counteroffers are all part of the game.
- Negotiate the deposit: Large deposits are not legally required in a real estate lease agreement for a massage clinic. Deposits are negotiable and, more so than anything else, often serve to compensate the landlord for the real estate commissions he will be paying out to the realtor. If you are negotiating a lease renewal and your landlord is already holding a deposit of yours, negotiate to get that deposit back.
- Measure your space: Some massage therapy tenants are paying for phantom space. Most tenants pay their rent per square foot, but often they do not receive as much space as the lease agreement says.
- Negotiate, negotiate: The leasing process is just that-–a process, not an event. The more time you, the massage tenant, have to put the deal together and make counteroffers, the better chance you have of getting what you really want. Too often, tenants mistakenly try to hammer out the deal in a two- or three-hour marathon session. It is more productive to negotiate in stages over time.
- Educate yourself and get help: Unless you have money to throw away, it pays to educate yourself. Taking the time to read about the subject or listen in on a leasing teleseminar will make a difference. And don`t forget to have your lease documents professionally reviewed before you sign them. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent at stake, personal guarantees and other risks, you can’t afford to gamble. In leasing, massage therapy tenants don’t get what they deserve, they get what they negotiate.
Dale Willerton, Founder of The Lease Coach, is a certified lease consultant who works exclusively for tenants. Willerton is a professional speaker and author of Negotiate Your Commercial Lease. For consulting inquiries, call Dale at (800) 738-9202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach.com or visit www.TheLeaseCoach.com.