To achieve full occupancy, it isn’t enough to maximize a property’s appeal; an owner must also communicate that allure to current and prospective tenants. Successful repositioning programs tie those objectives together, changing the asset in ways that enhance the way it is perceived in the market.

To deliver outstanding leasing results consistently, Transwestern created The Lab, a knowledge-based, data-verified initiative that helps owners lease their buildings quickly and efficiently. The Lab’s real estate subject experts rely on measurable criteria and their knowledge of various markets to deconstruct a property and analyze it from 10 specific viewpoints, then forge a strategy to elevate the asset’s leasing plan, image and market position.

The Lab brings together industry professionals from across the United States to identify and exploit a building’s core strengths and hidden potential. The experts specialize in marketing, workplace strategy, management, analytics, tour strategy and repositioning, to name only a few.

So, how does it work?

After completing preliminary research on a new assignment, the team converges on the site for a day of touring the property and sharing observations and ideas. This is a fact-finding mission, gathering data and querying ownership for information that will inform our strategic recommendations.

Measurement transforms general observations, such as “this space has great natural light,” into specifics: “Ninety-two percent of the occupiable area on this floor is within 40 feet of a window.” Data enables us to weigh one space against another and chart the relative merits of each, and can reveal a building’s advantages over competing properties.

Each team member approaches the asset from a different direction. Our demographer, for example, will screen the market and submarket to detect any underserved demographic or industry groups that the on-site leasing team may have missed in its search for potential tenants. After a recent analysis, we advised an owner who had focused unsuccessfully on technology startups to instead pursue biotech and pharmaceutical firms, based on commuting patterns between the property and nearby pockets of healthy tenant demand in those industries.

Lab experts will tour the property two to three weeks after we are hired, depending on the size of the asset. After another three to six weeks of analysis, the team will present findings to the owner in our Lab Diagnostic Report, a tactical strategy to modify, brand and market the property. The diagnostic report combines our observations with studies, reports, facts and demographic information from the local market.

The Lab is already delivering results. We helped one client develop and implement an $8 million amenity package that resulted in 400,000 square feet of new leasing within 18 months at rates that were $5 per square foot higher than pro forma. The higher rates added $30 million of additional value to the project, a 4:1 return.

“The Lab works. It discovers a building’s strengths and the best strategies to maximize its value.”
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Lab experts can help ownership refine upcoming renovations or plan amenity packages and marketing programs. With a planned renovation, for example, team members would tour the space and suggest ways to coordinate the structural changes with amenities, lobby alternatives and spaces built out on a speculative basis. Data augmenting their conclusions would confirm the merits of those recommendations.

We recently advised an institutional ownership group on how best to reposition and market vacant space at a suburban office tower outside Chicago. While the space was in fair condition, the leasing team had struggled to attract prospects due to intense competition from similar blocks of space nearby. The Lab created a branding campaign that highlighted the space and transformed the white-box shell into a fully branded, colorful and imaginative environment to help prospective tenants imagine themselves working there. After only a few months on the market, the space leased to a full-floor tenant.

Although amenities are important, the scale of an amenity package should reflect the kinds of tenants the owner desires for the property. Our amenity expert determined that a client’s plans to add a full-scale fitness center to their property could be scaled back to provide space with free weights and a few new yoga mats, saving thousands of renovation dollars. With the workout room completed, Transwestern leased two floors at the property in a few months.

The Lab works. It discovers a building’s strengths and the best strategies to maximize its value. It couples speed with expertise, creating a force that propels an asset to greater productivity. The strategies that emerge from The Lab accelerate leasing and put buildings on the fast track to financial success.

Mike Watts

Mike Watts serves as president of Transwestern’s Midwest team, headquartered in Chicago. In this role, he provides leadership to all of the team’s service lines in the Midwest, with a particular focus on establishing strategies to maximize client satisfaction, develop new business, and expand the region.

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