Our time at our Ash location has come and gone. Any regrets? No- Actually things worked out perfect; in the sense that we were able to find a better location at a better price with better amenities. Ash Lacked. Plain and simple Ash as Notary Location was not ideal for ourselves or our clients. We were never short on compliments, but it took countless thousands in renovation to make the office an office and make it suit us.
Word to the Wise-
If you're going to have your own Notary Office or just an office in general make sure you read the terms of your lease and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. If you don't see your location being a good fit don't move in until you find the perfect location for your notary business. Never Settle!
Asking Questions is one of the best things you can do before getting into a lease. It can also give you a gauge on the property management/ landlord to whom you will be making payments to and interacting with. Ideally you want to establish a good rapport moving forward, however if even the slightest thing is off don't move in. We ran into the issue of being lied to blatantly by the property managers and Owner of the building multiple times. As a prospective tenant, ask if the building is going to be sold. The worst thing about our lease was within the year there were over 12 " Inspections, " which weren't even inspections; they were viewings for potential investors or buyers. When asked, we were told they weren't. These inspections were constant and disrupted our business, due to the fact of the need to protect our clients privacy and protect our brand in general. Which brings me to my next point. As a Notary you are tasked with guarding your Notary Journal and not letting it be privy to other eyes. In another blog I will discuss how to protect your Notary Journal. Needless to say we found out through an email that the building was purchased and there would be new property management.
With our lease coming to an end we had a choice. Signature Notary San Diego could either stay in the building and put up with the shenanigans or move. We chose the later after meeting with the owners and new property management company. An email went out to the tenants in the building for a "meet and greet"with the owners and new management. Reluctantly to put a face to a name we-went. To our surprise it was two of the " inspectors" who had been through our unit previously. My approach was getting straight to business. After a warm introduction and a unsolicited assurance, we were told that they wanted all tenants who wanted to stay to stay and they were not going to be raising the lease rate for those who did only new tenants. That night we would also meet the property manager who I will call JG for this blog . JG was short and round, she stood by the kitchen eating from the Costco cheese and fruit platter whilst sipping wine from a plastic cup. From the corner of my eye I see JG approach . She greets me and we begin to talk. Being business minded, I tell her our lease is coming to an end and we would possibly be open to renewing our lease. That was mistake number 1 . I should have not been so eager to talk out about renewal. When you reach a certain level of success and or reputation you don't want to come off as eager for anything, because it gives the person you are talking to a position of power. As we ended the conversation she said she would get in touch with us after speaking with the owners about a renewal. That night when we left I told Vanessa, my business partner, "something was off about tonight." Weeks later, we receive a reply stating they would not be offering a renewal and if one was it would be a residential lease. How would that work for a business? Initially, our lease was amended to have a business clause in it that essentially made it a commercial lease. We had our attorney draft it before we moved in and it was signed off on buy the initial property manager and owner. With two months left in our lease we find out that after not missing or being late on a single payment, adding thousand of dollars in tenant upgrades, and spending thousands on SEO for our Notary Company, we have to find a new place. JG initially offered to extend 3 months max then 12 months max with the additional caveat that we pay an additional $250 based on market comparable. Knowing the market , I called her BS and told her to give me the rental comps in the area. She couldn't and cited the comp was in the building . The next door unit which is roughly the same as ours was vacated by our previous neighbors. The previous neighbors, shared the same enthusiasm as us in reference to the building and the unit itself. They hated it and thus they moved. Being in shock I asked "How Much?" She replied " $2550." Before ending the call I said "we would take it into account." I also mentioned that the comps in the area were going for much less and referenced the building next to us which was a true high-rise and had more amenities and was cleaner inside and out."
Taking the time to reflect over conversation itself and the tenancy; I came to the conclusion that not only would Signature Notary San Diego no longer be on Ash, it would be better for the business in it's entirety to find abetter location. Never mind the fact that if you were to type in 320 W. Ash on Google Maps, the former Billboard Lofts wouldn't even be listed , but instead a company that no one ever heard of prior to 2014, was now the anchor tenant of the building. Signature Notary San Diego came from nothing and made moved into nothing and made something. It wasn't the building that made Signature Notary San Diego, LLC. The building was nothing and the conversation with JG acted as a catalyst for me to remove the mask of happiness with the location. The masked muted the excessive heat and 10-15 degree temperature differential felt in the loft upstairs even when a window was open. The mask also muted the constant smell of urine walking out of the door that was left but either dogs or transients . The mask muted the constant noise of traffic which was a gift during the day because of all eyes being on my company. However the noise was a constant reminder that no matter how soundproof our office was it could be seen as unprofessional . A checklist of things would rattle off in my mind on how crappy of a location it was.
- Poor Property Management
- Lack of Any Amenities
- No Air Conditioner and even with windows open it is super hot
- Poor Ventilation
- Basic Design- Worn Laminate Floor, Dirty Walls that were painted with primer instead of paint.
- Lack of square feet
- Zero Storage
- If smells could Kill
Location Location Location
The one thing we got right was the location. In a different notary blog, I will discuss how important location is for having a San Diego Notary Office. Our new location isn't far from our old, but the new location has all the things our old location lacked. In addition the building itself is more commercial allowing for a better brand image. The fact that we were able to save almost $500 for a better notary location says that we did our homework and learned tons from our first leasing mistake. We should have had the leverage in terms of renegotiation on the previous lease, however one may believe there were underlying motives for them not to renew our lease of which I will not speculate.
- Ask Questions - No question is a dumb question.
- Negotiate your lease terms . - Most landlords mindsets are geared to money . To them it is better to have an occupied unit versus unoccupied. Pour over your lease and understand it is not designed to be preferential to you or your company . Don't be afraid to negotiate.
- Don't pull the trigger on just any location- Do your homework, remember that it will make or break you.
- Take the mask off- See your location from your client's perspective and make it better if it is lacking. We live in a digital age and you should see all of your clients as raters. With Yelp and Google your business is a few click away from being rated from 1-5. Be a 5 star company. I will discuss how to be a five star notary company in a different Signature Notary San Diego Blog. Wake up and smell the coffee not urine.
Don't show all of your cards. - I'm often reminded of Robert Green's Book 48 Laws of Power. It is a fantastic read. Two laws that I'm reminded of are :
Law 3 :
Conceal Your Intentions
"Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelope them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late."
Always Say Less than Necessary
"When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinx like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish."