Although contemplating a move for your growing business is exciting, it can be overwhelming when the reality of actually finding the space sets in.
But it doesn’t have to be.
There are specific steps you can follow to find the perfect place, and professionals that will make the process as seamless as possible.
Finding Commercial Real Estate in Nashville
As you may already know, finding commercial real estate isn’t easy.
There is no centralized MLS.
There is no “Zillow” for commercial real estate.
And you can spend hours or days driving around looking for available spaces.
You want to conduct your own due diligence with the end goal of finding the best commercial real estate broker to guide you through your journey.
The Drive-by Search
The first thing you might do is drive around in the area you’re interested in or conduct an online search.
This can be time consuming, but beneficial if you note that most of the lease signs in your favorite area reference one particular broker.
That broker might be one you want to talk to, especially since they seem to understand your market and have properties of interest to you.
Like the residential real estate agent that seems to be representing every house in your neighborhood, they obviously know the market and can help you find what’s available.
Referral to a Broker
If you’d rather save time and skip the drive-by search, getting a referral to a broker is your best option.
Not to mention it’s the most efficient means to finding commercial real estate in Nashville.
Asking for referrals from your business contacts is a good idea regardless of the service you’re seeking.
You’ll benefit from their mistakes and successes because your friends and contacts won’t refer you to anyone they don’t trust, or anyone whose work is sub-par.
Mentors or business coaches are another great referral source.
Successful people know other successful people and they’re very good at networking.
Ask questions and chances are good that someone down the chain of referrals will introduce you to the right person to help.
Your business contacts and mentors have probably been in your shoes at least once.
Chamber of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce is also a wealth of information.
Fortunately, our local Chamber is very involved in commercial real estate in Nashville.
The Chamber of Commerce is typically made up of people who are very involved in their community and dedicated to being ethical business owners.
It’s safe to say that shady organizations will not last long in this environment.
The Chamber provides a tremendous amount of value because they generally have strong memberships and they want to help.
Members of the Chamber are usually well-trusted and have been around for a while, so they’re the perfect group to poll regarding your new need for commercial real estate in Nashville.
Join the Chamber, attend the meetings, and start asking questions.
Tell them you want to open up shop in a particular neighborhood and ask if they know anyone that could be helpful.
You might also ask:
Can you recommend a good commercial real estate broker?
Have you used any good real estate attorneys lately?
Can you refer me to a good contractor?
All of these industries will be heavily represented in the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
Business Network International (BNI) is another group to mine for referrals.
BNI is a leads group that has grown tremendously in recent years.
It’s similar to the Chamber in that its members meet to discuss business topics and for networking.
Think of BNI as networking on steroids.
In each BNI chapter, only one industry is allowed per chair, so they are scrutinized before they are accepted.
Each member in a BNI group is vetted by the whole because everyone wants their group to be robust.
The members of each chapter learn about the other industries in the group and essentially become a sales force for them.
You can leverage the knowledge and skills of the BNI group in your area.
Attend a meeting as a visitor or call the BNI regional office to get a list of commercial brokers within all of the chapters near you.
They love to pass referral information to anyone that needs it and you don’t have to be a member to take advantage of that service.
Want to be my guest at a BNI breakfast? Email me here.
Your Residential Real Estate Agent
Your residential real estate agent can be a wonderful referral source.
But don’t fall into the trap of asking them to represent you in the commercial context.
The agent may have a good commercial broker contact to share with you, but they probably don’t have the expertise you need in that area.
You wouldn’t hire an attorney specializing in mergers and acquisitions if you got into a car wreck, right?
There are vast differences between residential and commercial real estate.
Unfortunately, business owners that don’t understand that will get burned when they let a residential agent find commercial space.
Here's what can happen.
I had a tenant who didn't renew at our property and asked their residential agent to find them a place.
Their lease expired March 31, so I found another tenant to move in on April 1.
As expected, the residential agent was unable to find them any suitable properties.
A week before their lease expired, they had nowhere to go.
They no longer had the option to hold over because a new tenant was moving in.
Fortunately, they had my number and we found them a new spot within a few days.
The residential agent simply didn’t have the contacts or resources to find the available properties.
Similarly, it wouldn’t be smart to ask your commercial broker to find your new home.
Commercial brokers typically don’t have access to the MLS.
They don’t know where to find residential buyers and know nothing about how to best stage a house.
They focus solely on commercial real estate in Nashville.
Residential is unfamiliar territory.
Landlords and Tenants
Your previous landlord might also be a source of good information about other spaces that are available.
They might have another tenant moving out of a suitable property or can point you in the right direction.
They won’t mind helping you if they know you’re already on the way out.
If you’ve settled on the area you want to be in, talk to the current tenants in that location.
See if anyone is trying to sublet their property, or you could ask them for the landlord’s contact information.
Current tenants can also provide helpful information regarding the CAM, foot traffic, how the landlord conducts its business, typical maintenance issues, etc.
Just by talking to people in the know, you will gain knowledge and learn of different opportunities.
I’ve recommended my clients avoid a shopping center before after talking to the current tenants.