Rent: What is your return on your investment?

If you rent space for your business operations, chances are it is one of your biggest expenses each month next to payroll.  Take a look at what that rent provides you in opportunity and see if it is a good decision.  Some businesses need class A space and should pay premium rent to assure that they have the traffic to support their business.  Other businesses could be tucked away in a garage and still earn the same revenues.

In our continuing effort to help businesses re-assess and re-invent, we suggest that you review your sales to decide if you are getting a good return on your rental investment.  Here are a few suggestions to keep your rent under control:

1.  If you are in a long term lease and the traffic generated is not supporting the rent you pay, consider meeting with your landlord to review rates or re-negotiate the terms of your lease.  Be prepared for the meeting though. Review current comparable lease rates and come prepared to show your landlord the current market conditions.  Take properly prepared financial statements with you and maybe even your CPA.  Explain what effects the current market is having on your ability to pay the current rental rates.  If you are dealing with a larger property management company, this may be a futile exercise, but it cannot hurt.  Your landlord would probably rather have you paying some rent, rather than have an empty space that they have to advertise to rent.  They may even have to give a new tenant upfit allowances and free rent for a few months anyhow.  Why wouldn't they offer this to you?

2.  Consider moving your business to a home office or utilize an office suite service on a per-use basis.  If you are a sales organization without a lot of retail foot traffic, this may help you increase your bottom line and still provide quality services to your customers.  What would happen if you invested the money spent on rent on a top notch website that creates traffic and sales for you?  Could your work be easier and could you expand the reach of your business to more customers?

3.  Is there an opportunity to share office or retail space with a complimentary vendor?  For example, maybe a financial planner may consider an office sharing arrangement with an accountant or a vendor selling art could partner to show their art in offices or restaurants.

Be creative.  If you don't, your competition may make their operation more lean and put you out of business.  You cannot sit back and wait for things to happen to you — control your own destiny and look at the opportunities that are out there.

Donna Bordeaux is a Certified Public Accountant and Personal Financial Specialist with Bordeaux & Bordeaux, CPAs, PA in Lake Wylie, SC (a suburb of Charlotte, NC).  For further information about Donna or her firm, please visit www.charlottecpafirm.com.