Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Great Expectations: Vacancies That Impress Prospects

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Great Expectations: Vacancies That Impress Prospects

Article excerpt

Vacancies, like job applicants, need to make a good impression. Job candidates meeting a prospective employer realize that they have only one chance to make a favorable impression. This first meeting will determine whether they have subsequent interviews and the opportunity to become employed.

Executive recruiter, Lee Van Leeuwen, managing vice president of Korn Ferry International-Los Angeles, believes that employment candidates have no excuse for not being properly dressed and groomed when meeting with their prospective employer. Candidates that show up for the interview in a wrinkled suit or inappropriate clothing would not get a second chance.

Van Leeuwen had the same attitude when he was looking for office space for his firm. If the space was unkept and in disarray, he eliminated it from his list of potential location candidates. In today's competitive market, vacancies should be appropriately dressed and groomed before meeting a prospective tenant. Showing poorly prepared vacant space can negate a good impression provided by a building's exterior and interior common areas. The intent of this article is to share a tenant's prospective on viewing space and what real estate professionals must do to ensure that vacant space is ready to show.

Always be ready

Mike Lipsey, CPM[R], president of The Lipsey Company, a real estate training firm in Orlando, had an interesting rental experience he likes to share with his students. Traveling to Harrisburg, Va., with his wife and three sons, Lipsey had intended to stay at a major national hotel chain. Upon pulling into the entrance drive of the hotel, however, his wife was put off by the poor appearance of the exterior. They decided to see if there were any nearby alternatives.

Within four or five blocks they came across a new Hampton Inn that had an immaculate exterior. The lobby was bright and cheery, as was the staff. They were informed the cost of the room was $39 per night, which included free local telephone calls and free cable T.V. The family thought that sounded pretty good, but wanted to see one of the rooms before they made their decision.

The front desk clerk checked with housekeeping to make sure the room was ready for showing before allowing them to see it. The room was great, and they canceled their reservations at the other hotel.

Lipsey and his family changed hotels because they were provided the right first impression and were handled enthusiastically and professionally by the staff.

Likewise, prospective tenants should not have to tour properties with stained or missing ceiling tiles, missing interior doors, or HVAC that has not been operated for six months.

If the Hampton Inn can provide a great impression for $39 a night, surely property management professionals can do this for a $5,000 to $10,000 a month suite. Lipsey believes that we need to stop thinking that we are in the property management business and start thinking like we are in the hospitality business.

Inspecting prospective spaces to lease around the western United States for a Fortune 500 Corporation, I get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have seen well-respected national real estate firms, as well as local owners and management firms, do excellent jobs in presenting vacant space to prospective tenants. At other times I have had to step over debris or walk through dead cockroaches or cobwebs to see the space.

Usually a leasing agent or property representative is apologetic and sometimes surprised at the condition of the vacancy. Although I make an effort to see through the mess of an unprepared vacancy and try to envision the space as my firm would use it, I still have to wonder what other areas are being neglected and how my firm would be handled if it became a tenant. Also, keep in mind that a building with poorly prepared vacant units will develop an unfavorable reputation in the brokerage community.

Presentation

In addition to removing debris and construction materials, vacant space should be painted, carpets should be cleaned, all the lighting should work, and blinds should be positioned to let outside light into the space. …

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