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Would you? Office move

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I started a new pratice about a year ago, although only recently (last 3 months) started to put more effort into making it a full time job, i.e. getting out there with advertising and marketing.

I have 10 clients, I know not great, growing seems to be a slow process.

A local office has become vacant, its by a busy but slow moving road, no parking sadly although could get away with parking and quickly dropping of papers etc if needed.

The rent with estimated bills would be around my entire fee income, although the office is cheap my fees at the moment are small. I am thinking of giving it a go and moving in for a year, hopefully with an office and "passing" trade, it should help with the marketing and hopfully "pay for itself" so to speak. Ideally leading to a busy pratice. I am in limbo at the moment as my fees arent giving me the income I would need anyway.

I know its common, but the repair clause in the lease worries me slightly... What happens if the roof needs redoing?

Any input would be appricated.

Although I'm new I have searched and there is some great advice which I have taken in.

Replies (19)

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By SEacc
23rd Mar 2018 15:04

I probably should have said, I am targeting micro and small limited companies.

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By andy.partridge
23rd Mar 2018 17:30

Will it project the image you are looking to portray?
If you are wanting to be 'smart and contemporary' your office needs to match to attract the right clients.

Pity there's no parking - how will this affect your efficiency and the convenience for your clients. Believe me, clients crave convenience often ahead of technical ability.

Is this your only chance or do similar ones come up regularly? Btw, it's a must that you get legal advice on the lease. I would be surprised if the landlord is happy for an agreement of just 12 months.

I would like to think you can only just afford it because that certainly focuses the mind and motivates.

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Replying to andy.partridge:
By lionofludesch
23rd Mar 2018 17:50

andy.partridge wrote:

Pity there's no parking - how will this affect your efficiency and the convenience for your clients. Believe me, clients crave convenience often ahead of technical ability.

Absolutely. I can't see the advantage in a town centre office with the nearest car park a mile away.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
23rd Mar 2018 18:00

If all this is is an advertising hoarding.

Why not take out a series of bill board adverts in prominent locations?

They are not very expensive.

A local garage to me has all the bus shelters within a mile of it. Its good brand marketing.

Also consider if you want to spend the next 20 years working in an office next to a busy road.....

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
By andy.partridge
23rd Mar 2018 18:05

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

Also consider if you want to spend the next 20 years working in an office next to a busy road.....

The OP is only thinking 12 months. Possibly rather shorter-term than the landlord might be thinking.

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By Mr_awol
23rd Mar 2018 18:07

I wouldn't spend my entire income on an office.

How long has it taken you to get to ten? You've been going a year and only recently pushed it - but does that mean you've picked up 8 in those three months or actually you've always had most of them and pushing it hasn't worked?

Is the office in good order - would it suit you long term? Personally i'd rather take a cheap office at some sort of business hub or enterprise zone than take some shithole.

You reckon there's no parking but people could park on the fly and drop off records. Most times if a client comes in to drop stuff off they end up standing there chatting to me, the staff, the secretary or anothger client for 5 minutes or so. Is there somewhere legal they can put the car whilst they drop off or are you expecting them to sling it on the yellers?

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Replying to Mr_awol:
By andy.partridge
23rd Mar 2018 18:32

Mr_awol wrote:

You reckon there's no parking but people could park on the fly and drop off records. Most times if a client comes in to drop stuff off they end up standing there chatting to me, the staff, the secretary or anothger client for 5 minutes or so.

That is true. A little chat is as much manners as anything else. It would be rude not to. Also, the OP should want to chat to the client, because it is an opportunity to further cement the relationship.

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By SEacc
24th Mar 2018 09:16

Thanks all.

The office is really nice mordern, there isn’t a really a more visible office in the village I can think of.. so I do think this will attract good clients.

I haven’t seen a similar priced office up in the area, they seem to be about double the price of this one. Wasn’t really looking at a shop front type, but then I don’t think many or any of those will be close to the price of this.

Indeed I hope and I’m sure it would motivate me and make sure it all starts to kick off and provide a living wage.

I do believe you when you say convenience over ability, which makes the parking issue even more serious.
Nearest public car park is 10min walk, that said there are marked bays about a two min walk outside a row of shops. This doesn’t belong to anyone, aren’t allocated etc. Whether of not a client would think to park there is another matter. As a reply said, they could park on the yellas and drop things off, I have seen this done many times with the previous business that was there. Would only work for the briefest of fly bys. I wouldn’t expect them to park illegally but I wouldn’t be surprised if some do.

I guess maybe it’s the parking which causes this to appear good value. It’s factored into the price.

The advertising is a factor and very handy, I would like an office anyway, and this is a nice one.

I have had one potential client decline because I don’t have an office, this makes me think there are others who feel the same.

Honestly, I’d be happy to work there, it’s local it’s nice, and the office is in good order. So working there for years by a busy road wouldn’t bother me I don’t think. Unless I started to notice pollution etc.

Correct, the landlord could be thinking longer term. It’s been vacant about 1-2 year. So many there is some flexibility there. I don’t know.

Within the last 3 months I signed up 4 clients. Certainly noticed more leads since pushing.

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By Matrix
24th Mar 2018 08:39

I work from home and it has never been a problem. I either go to clients, we meet locally or they come here more often these days as I am busier. It means overheads are low and I tend to get most clients through referrals and have never needed to rush the growth to cover costs.

If you take on this office then you will need a marketing strategy so search the site for ideas.

Personally I wouldn't take this particular office due to the parking issues. I just don't see the point in incurring the cost without the benefit of clients/prospects coming for meetings.

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By free-rider
24th Mar 2018 08:58

I used to have an office just off the main road on a quite residential street for a year. Great space, but with limited parking (permit holders only or parking meter for a few cars). Few clients actually got tickets for parking without paying and were not happy about that.

Now working from home and loving it. No rent to pay and meeting clients via Skype, phone or at their place.

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By Cheshire
24th Mar 2018 11:29

Ive never had a client decline due to not having an office.

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Replying to Cheshire:
By Mr_awol
26th Mar 2018 10:44

Cheshire wrote:

Ive never had a client decline due to not having an office.

Depends on the clients you want/have and also on how you work around it.

I wouldn't use a solicitor who was operating out of his living room, but might if they had a purpose built office (not garden room) at home. I might use one who came to me or who used a local meeting hub. In honesty I'd still prefer someone with an office though.

Whilst I am sure many of my clients would still be with me if I didn't have an office, I have quite a few whom I know full well I wouldn't have got. It isn't just the 'big' ones, although if I were to look at all clients paying more than £10k a year, I suspect none of them would be here if I ran it from home.

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By SEacc
24th Mar 2018 21:58

Thanks again.

Thinking of giving this one a miss at the moment, will sleep on it.

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By bernard michael
25th Mar 2018 10:44

Very important
As it's a repairing lease you need a written agreement as to the state of the building at the commencement of the lease and/or a full structural survey.
Otherwise you could get stuffed by a large repair bill for an existing problem

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Replying to bernard michael:
By coolmanwithbeard
27th Mar 2018 10:49

I work at home but it's a renter's market at the moment and I have successfully done deals for clients where they get internal repairs only and roll in out when you want leases as people just seem happy to have someone in.

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By Bacc
26th Mar 2018 12:18

I started my business just over 9 months ago and I have got 50+ clients already. I mainly work from home but I have a virtual office in a local business park which is also my business address. A lot of my clients know that I mainly work from home and if they want to see me they can either meet at the business park which has meeting rooms/coffee shop or I go to them. All seem to be very happy. Another problem I see with a one man band being in that type of location is that if you go to clients a lot (or go on holiday), quite a lot of the time the business is going to look closed which I don't think looks particularly good, how often will you actually be in the office.

Also I think for clients parking is a must.

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By Alonicus
27th Mar 2018 11:34

You don't say where in the country you are, but in the Home Counties (where I am) there is a significant oversupply of commercial property. Don't believe the letting agents headline prices - haggle ! And then haggle some more. The worst that can happen is that they'd say no and you go and look elsewhere, although it's better not to move than to get the wrong location.

You may not be able to haggle on price, although it's worth a try. Don't admit you know the lack of parking is factored into the price, and if they tell you it is, question how much they have undervalued it for your customers and how much it'll cost you to pay to park over a year.

Even if you can't get the price down, try for an initial rent-free period and try to get the terms amended. The last commercial property I was involved with had a repairing lease, and we ended up agreeing an annual cap (and quite a low one for the size of property) on repair costs, and that the landlord would pay for any repairs to the roof. We also agreed that they'd do a significant amount of making-good including replacing a rather expensive cracked plate glass window before we moved in.

Finally, get a solicitor to read over the proposed lease VERY carefully, particularly in regard to things like break clauses and any unexpected liabilities (check for things like Business Rates, and whether you are in a BID Levy zone). Always allow for some unexpected expenses !

Even if you decide this isn't the one for you, it's worth having a plan for when you find the right place. Good luck !

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By Cardigan
27th Mar 2018 11:39

Do you feel that if you had an office that it would be a "real" business to you, that it would increase your productivity and help you to grow your clients?

I had the same dilemma during the first year in business. I even found a diary I had written during that time with my thoughts and feelings on what an office would mean. Firstly I had a virtual office in a business centre, then I rented an office there and have been there ever since.

The rent was about 7% of my fee income, which was manageable. I could sign up for as little as 3 months and there were no repairs, electricity, cleaning, security etc to take care of. So there was no real risk. I would not have signed up for a lease at the time. There was enough to think about in running and growing the business without having a lease hanging over me.

Getting the office made a huge difference to me, both personally and financially. I could not work effectively at home (and still struggle to do so on the few days I need to.) I couldn't switch off either. I unwind on the short commute home. Once I got the office, I started to dress more professionally and was more confident in presenting to prospects. (Crazy!)

You also get to meet other business people and potential clients in the business centre. I've picked up some good clients and got some referrals over the years.

It is a personal decision as well as a financial one. Some people work great at home and I though I would be one of them, but I am not.

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By Husbandofstinky
27th Mar 2018 13:15

Although a presence in the form of an office/commercial property is great, as mentioned several times earlier -clients want convenience. This to me is most definitely up there with your fee levels. What is more convenient than you turning up at their place with a time that suits them?

If you are half decent with your work, reasonably priced and convenient, what is there to be disliked ? You get paid.

A separate commercial office is a worthwhile luxury but not at this stage imo.

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