Be Negative in Negotiating

It’s never a good idea to walk into a space and say out loud, “This is perfect! We can put the changing rooms here, the pro shop here. This is ideal for my office….” By doing so, you expose your emotional attachment to the property. I am a very positive person, so let me say this: I am positive you want to be negative, or at least neutral, when negotiating a lease or even viewing a space. 

Simply walk around, take some notes, do a rough floor plan of the shape, and tell the salesperson, “Gee, I don’t know. This could be a lot of work.” A good salesperson will start asking you questions then. 

Be sure to convey a very neutral position. “I guess I could make it work, but it’s not going to be easy.” 

I said don’t show emotion while looking at a space. Actually, you can do a little play-acting and show some negative emotion. It’s an extended flinch. 

Communicate to the salesperson that if she wants you to go ahead with this, it’s going to take some work on her part, starting with price and terms. Don’t make it easy for her and hard for yourself; you’re the one who has to make the monthly rent payments. 

The martial arts industry is haunted with the ghosts of good schools that had everything going for them but ended up posting a “For Lease” sign in their window and closing their doors. 

One of the most common failures is a poorly negotiated lease that straps the owner with an exorbitant rent. A bad lease deal is not just high rent, either. Your start-up costs and your ability to expand can be drastically affected when you have a bad lease. 

Signing a lease is like going into business partnership with a location and landlord for a period of time. Partnerships are seldom easy. Our goal is to help you turn this partner into a friend and not a foe of your future. 

All leases have a basic framework that outlines how long you will occupy the space and how much it will cost you to stay there.

Beyond that, there is a wide spectrum of lease structure. Don’t think just because a term or condition is in the landlord’s lease that it is carved in stone. 

Virtually every aspect of that lease is negotiable, and we’ve talked to many school owners who have received concessions they never thought possible by using our strategies. But they would never have received them – and you won’t either – unless you just ask.