How to secure the commercial lease of your dreams


That nerve pull in the pit of the stomach. This feeling of will that they/won’t they will. That heart skips when their name pops up on your phone. I’m talking, of course, about the absolute torture of waiting to find out if your commercial rental application has been approved or not.

It’s a horrible waiting game – you find a place you think is perfect, you start visualizing your business there, and unwittingly become emotionally invested in yourself, setting yourself up for heartache if the place goes to someone else. another.

The old butcher’s shop, with its sixties brown tiles and cool, cavernous bedroom, didn’t seem in high demand.

But as I said before, this place has something special.

Although we entered the application process feeling confident, we found ourselves withered over the next two weeks as nervous expectation took over. When we finally got the keys, we found we had beaten 12 other apps in the process.

Here is an overview of how we managed to obtain the commercial lease of our dreams.

Commercial leases in the time of COVID-19

Needless to say, COVID-19 has been a game-changer for commercial real estate.

Here in Melbourne, there are a disturbing number of empty storefronts, sometimes along the city’s most popular streets. Every time I pass another “For Rent” commercial sign, I stop and think about the little dream that could have ended there.

The funny thing about commercial real estate is that each agency seems to operate by its own rules. Some agents just want the space filled and will opt for first come, first served. Other times, the agent and owners will choose the app that suits them best. It all depends on the interest of the property and the duration of its vacancy.

After years of negotiated rent reductions and haggling over contracts, landlords and agents are much more inclined to be cautious about who they hand over the keys to. Your best bet when it comes to a popular property? Find out how to stand out from the crowd and present yourself and your business in an irresistible way.

The stages of a rental request

For Two Franks, we went through several stages in our journey to get the keys that every app should pretty much follow.

1. Opportunity

When we first saw the ‘For Rent’ listing at 202 Reynard Street, within hours we had contacted the agent and registered our interest. Do not wait. Jump right in, especially if you don’t know how long the property has been listed.

2. Guided visit on site

We then arranged an on-site inspection, during which we met the agent and were able to ask questions about the property. We took the opportunity to enthusiastically express how much we wanted the spot to be ours.

3. Application form

Following the inspection, the agent sent the official application form, which was a formal way of registering our interest in the property and information required from us such as experience, business references and sample flows cash.

4. Owner Terms

Then the agent got back to us with the terms the landlord wanted to offer for the property, including monthly rent, lease term and annual rent increase percentages.

5. Respond and negotiate

Once we received the terms from the owner, we read them carefully. To make sure we could do what we planned with the space, we explained our layout ideas and checked the landlord’s permission.

We also took the opportunity to negotiate a few weeks rent-free, as we would be working on the property without bringing in any income. There was a bit of back and forth between the two sides here, but we managed to find a happy medium.

6. Get the keys

Once both parties were satisfied, we were asked for a lease start date, signed the documents and received the keys.

The very first evening, we had the keys in hand, we all found ourselves at the shop with a bottle of champagne to toast to our new adventure (an essential step in any new company).

Stand out from the crowd

With such an interest in the property, how did we stand out and get the lease?

First of all, we were enthusiastic from the start. We shared our excitement with the agent and let it filter down to the owner. We made it very clear how much we wanted this property and how we would take care of it.

Then we helped the owner visualize our ideas by sending a presentation which helped turn our words into a well thought out plan.

Presentation of the Deux Francs lease

Source: provided.

This presentation included a story about who we are and our connection to the butcher shop, the name we had in mind for the cafe, our previous experience, stages of business growth, a designer mood board, potential suppliers , opening hours and floor plan possibilities.

It showed that we were invested, that we were prepared, that we had a vision and that we respected the property of the owner. This is the most important inclusion that helped us secure the space.

Presentation of the two Franks

Source: provided.

Finally, we stayed on top of the app. Almost daily (no excess) phone calls with the agent, just to check how the application was progressing and if they needed anything else from our end, showed that we were responsible and more eager to get the keys .

It must be fate

A few weeks later, I walked into a new cafe that opened not far from my house. I had been watching a hair salon conversion for months and fell for it the minute their coffee machine was first turned on.

The owner stood behind the machine, pulling coffees, and with Two Franks in the lead, I felt a camaraderie between us.

I wished him my congratulations and we chatted about his shop asking him how the whole process went for him.

“I’m getting ready to open a cafe,” I shared.

When I told her where, her head popped. “Are you one of the sisters?” He asked.

Turns out my new local barista had been contacted by the real estate agent at 202 Reynard Street, as she had helped him with other commercial leases.

“I have the perfect place for you,” she had said.

At that time, in the midst of preparing for the launch of his new cafe, he told her that he would call back. But when he did, two weeks later, the property was already gone—to us!

Sometimes it’s who you know. Sometimes it’s just good timing. But sometimes you have to seize the opportunity head on and give it your all so it doesn’t pass you by.

Chryssie Swarbrick is a writer, small business juggler, and mother of two. She is currently documenting her adventures in opening a cafe, Two Franksacross from his childhood home.


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