Reading through the new online lead generation model for cars, it struck us that car buying and commercial leasing is not all that different. We’ve already been explaining to people how the search for a commercial lease was changing in the same fashion that the car buying experience did about five to eight years ago. Back then, the average automobile consumer would drive to multiple dealerships, talk to salesmen, talk to their friends, and maybe buy a pricing guide or automotive magazine.The consumer was trying to get educated prior to making a major purchase. Today, the same consumer gets online, learns the process, the sales tricks, the best time to buy, and scans the available options. They arrive at the dealership with a graduate-level education compared to the old way of buying a car. The similarities don’t stop there. When you buy a car, the dealer has an end price in mind and tries to confuse the bottom line by lowering the sticker price, tweaking the down payment, adjusting the interest rate, or a multitude of other variables.
The search for retail, industrial, or office rentals is going through the exact same transformation. The goal should be to educate prospective tenants in the same way the car buying industry has enabled their customers to become informed consumers.
However, when it comes to up-front pricing, both industries are still struggling to grasp that transparency is not only great for the consumer, but it actually helps the provider (in this case the landlord and their’s the dealer). This parallel is mainly true when it comes to executive suites or executive offices because these offices are turnkey solutions. They are highly commoditized due to the fact that they are generally furnished, have electricity, internet and anything else a tenant would need. You sign up with a short lease that is generally not negotiable, other than the monthly price. Due to all these factors, picking an executive office or suite rental comes down to size, location, and monthly price. (To cover all our bases, this completely changes for larger leases – which have dozens of clauses, Tenant Improvement concessions, a large number of hard to vet landlords…we could go on forever!).
Now that we have set up the conversation, a hard hitting quote from online dealers understanding the importance of providing upfront pricing –
Market forces within the automotive industry have been bound up by a system that has traditionally favored the dealer in the transaction by making dealers the customer’s primary resource for comprehensive product information and by maintaining a lack of transparency in product pricing. But consumers are now empowered; they have anonymous access to product information online. This empowerment dovetails with the movement within the industry to embrace an upfront pricing model. And at the center of this intersection is the car itself-ubiquitous, utterly reliable… and a commodity in every sense of the word.