A lawyer or financial adviser retiring from a large firm, yet still wanting to service a handful of clients, can have a tough time finding suitable office space. Ask a broker to locate an executive suite, and they’ll likely hang up the phone.
The reason: The smaller the office space, the lower the real estate commission. As a result, people seeking a modern, modestly sized office space have few options — scan through the thousands of listings on Craigslist.com, tap traditional advertising (not likely to be much help, given low rental rates), or take a drive and look for buildings with “For Rent” signs.
Recognizing a business opportunity, a pair of Royal Oak entrepreneurs recently launched a website that promotes office spaces in Michigan that are 3,000 square feet or less. “No one wants to take hours out of their day driving around looking for rental signs for office space,” says Guy Scavone II, a broker and president of SmallOfficeSearch.com. “As for landlords, other than putting a rent sign on the door, it can be hard to find a tenant.”
Since the website went live in April, traffic has exceeded more than 100 visitors per day. The most common search among potential lessees is for executive suites, single offices, or shared space, says Chris George, COO of SmallOfficeSearch.com. “People can use the tools on the site to generate lists based on various criteria like location, size, or price,” he says. “We also drive traffic to the landlords.”
The site’s revenue model is straightforward: People can search for office space at no cost, while building owners are charged a $29 monthly listing fee. A typical listing includes an address, amenities, size, and pricing. Interior and exterior photos are offered, as well.
Down the road, contractors, furniture distributors, office retailers, and cleaning firms can advertise on the site. “Our goal is to expand throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country, Canada, Europe, and other English-speaking countries,” Scavone says.
Matt Diskin, owner of PVG Appraisal in Royal Oak, says the site proved to be a welcome resource. “I typed in Royal Oak, and entered the price point I wanted and the amenities I needed,” he says. “It gave me several choices and, within a week, I was in my new office.” db