Every commercial owner dreads the day when they have to fill a vacancy on their property. Unlike residential properties which generally have a continuous flow of eager applicants, commercial property vacancies are more complex and can sometimes take many months to fill. Fortunately, commercial tenants often sign long term leases ranging from 3-5 years, so you shouldn’t need to worry about filling vacancies too frequently as long as you keep your tenants happy!
If you find yourself dealing with a vacancy, consider the following 6 tips:
- Work with a Leasing Agent
- Leasing Agents work with property owners to help find good tenants for their buildings. They have solid insight of the property market and will handle all the marketing, unit tours, and lease preparation. Your Property Manager can assist with finding a Leasing Agent, specifically one that specialises in your property’s commercial asset class.
Or If you'd prefer to fill the vacancy yourself:
- Create eye-catching signage
- A well-designed sign with your company logo, brand colours, approximate square footage available, and clear contact information will attract a lot more attention that a blank sign that just states “For Lease & phone #”. The quality of your marketing material speaks volumes about your property, so it pays to invest in good quality signage. Consider outsourcing the design to a Graphic Designer, and be sure to stay on top of replacing your signage when it becomes outdated or weathered.
- Curbside appeal
- Investing the time and money into cleaning, landscaping, and a fresh coat of paint are some of the easiest ways to increase the implied value of your property. At times, this may even include bigger jobs like rebuilding walkways or upgrading windows and doors. These types of projects should be ongoing rather than something that is taken on when a prospect comes along. With all the competition out there today, keeping your property updated will give you the best chances of attracting high-quality renters.
- Use the Internet
- There are various free and paid resources on the internet for marketing your vacancies, including Craigslist, LoopNet, Spacelist, etc. You can also reach out to local publications like the Vancouver Sun or Western Investor for example to get your property on a rental listing. These publications also offer digital ad space on their sites to market your property.
- Traditional marketing
- Pulling out ad space in the local newspapers and doing a direct mail campaign are still relevant and effective ways of marketing your vacancies. Have a designer prepare professional, high quality advertisements and brochures or postcards with enticing marketing copy and high-quality photographs.
- Focus on keeping your current tenants
- If you’ve heard the phrase “it costs more money to attract new clients than it does to retain existing clients,” you’d know that the same rule applies for tenants. When you’ve gone through all the work of filling your property's vacancies, an effective tenant services program designed to promote positive tenant relations is key to maximizing asset value, maintaining a flow of uninterrupted income, and reducing capital expenditure.
Whether you decide to work with a Leasing Agent or fill the vacancy yourself, it's important to have an action plan right from the get-go. Even in a city like Vancouver, where commercial vacancy rates are the 2nd lowest in North America, maintaining a strategy for marketing your vacancies will help protect you in the long run.