Tenavox Blog

The Latest Resources, News and Events Curated by our Team of Commercial RE Experts

 

Written by Josh Feinberg
on September 20, 2017

What's your mission?

shutterstock_438204415           We're working to help businesses make better lease decisions. 

If you’ve ever spent time looking, searching, learning or negotiating for commercial lease space...read on. We know the process is frustrating, there is a lack of quality information, for a small business you experience slow (or non-existent callbacks) and ultimately just a total lack of transparency in the transaction.  

When we started thinking about forming a platform to solve these issues and more, to really make a site that was built around small businesses making better lease decisions, through education and empowerment. So where did we start? What is Tenavox?

Well, even with decades of CRE under our belts and millions upon millions transacted, we knew we needed to get back to basics. We needed to hear what real Tenants had to say. We started there. So we conducted interviews, we collected manual reviews, we asked questions, proposed solutions and started building something from the ground up, for Tenants, with Tenants.

The process was eye-opening. This was livelihood for most Tenants, the rent payment was oftentimes the difference between making payroll that month or saving money for their kids college...it was real. Their business is an enormous part of their life, so we listened. We heard familiar refrains from small business Tenants, pain points if you will. Let me know if these sound familiar…

“Yea, I looked online and saw NNN alot, but when I called I was told thats like 2/3rd’s of what I’m supposed to be paying? What’s the deal, I felt hoodwinked and wasted time on a property that would never fit my budget.”

“I cannot tell you how many times I called a broker from an online listing and was told, ohh, we leased that, or no, that’s not for your type of business. It’s mind-boggling how difficult it was to get good information.”

“I use and rely on recommendations and reviews heavily in my business. Our restaurant makes sure to keep a healthy and active online presence. I’ve bought TV’s, cars, houses, kitchen equipment and god knows whats else with other people’s experiences to guide me (or tell me what to avoid). I literally found more information on my son’ bike for his birthday than I did before I signed my lease. Knowing now what I didn’t know then? I regret my decision.”

Small businesses count over 30 million in the United States alone. They occupy over 30 Billion Square Feet (Source: SBA). Yet, when we encountered a small businesses tenant we rarely found a person who was happy with their experience, even if the space itself had worked out.

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  Real estate shouldn't be painful...

Here are our aggregated top three pain points…

  1. Good information on buildings and landlords either doesn’t exist or is behind a paywall.
  2. When information is found, quotes and terminology are often incomplete or worse, purposefully confusing.
  3. Every other site is built around the idea of a digital sign, with very little value to Tenants, they’re built to encourage a call to a broker who may or may not have time or a matching availabilities. This leads to mismatched expectations and unsatisfied, underserved Tenants. Which is bad for everyone in the relationship.

Sitrep for Tenants? What commercial real estate information that does exist is not complete and/or it’s confusing. They’re often forced to call a broker (either too early or not the right one), who’s not a good fit for their needs and they end up in a lease out of necessity, not quality decision making.

Listing sites? Digital signs at best. Half-baked information built for Landlords to funnel impressions and clicks.

Brokerages? Most don’t have the time or skills to work on deals of their size. Although it’s harsh, it’s a reality. So they get unqualified, inexperienced representatives.

Property Managers and Owners? By the time they get to them, it’s too late.

There had to be a better way. We knew it in our bones.

So how do we solve these pain points...what makes Tenavox different? At it’s core, we’re bringing the warmth and convenience of consumer-feedback and unbiased resources to commercial real estate. It just made so little sense to us that buying a car, finding a home, hell, getting a hotel room was a cleaner, more transparent process than a decision that is often the difference between a success, or paying your bills that month, or starting your kids college fund. Commercial leases make up an enormous amount of a business's annual expenditures. It’s about time the information, resources and connections became available to Tenants.

We knew we had to come up with a platform that fully addresses the needs of Tenants, that was aligned with them from an engineering, business and advocacy standpoint. A truly different platform.

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Unbiased, professional, transparent and free.

With Tenavox, any Tenant can join 100% free and gets access to tools, information, educational resources and advocacy in a single, efficient online platform. This means you as Tenant can:

  • Review your building and learn from other Tenants what the building is like before you sign a lease.
  • Find out what you should be paying for your lease, not just what you've been quoted
  • Save time and find your new lease fast: search and compare the best properties that match your business
  • Get connected with the most recommended, highly rated pre, at and post-lease vendors that surround the commercial lease experience. From furniture to tenant reps, we’ll get you the best resource for your needs.
  • Make the best lease decision possible and level the playing field in negotiations with enterprise-level free tools

We have full length leasing guides (and a comprehensive ebook on the way) built around lifting the veil of mystery around terminology, processes and economics of leasing space as a user.

The goal is simple, educate, empower and make commercial real estate leasing transparent.

Our platform is powerful, relevant and useful to businesses at ALL points of a lease transaction.

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That’s the Tenavox difference.

To accomplish our goals our foundation is built on three core tenets:

  1. Build, maintain and deliver a database buildings, pictures and information on our own. Based in facts, not dependant on listing sites, aggregation or other far more unscrupulous methods of collecting information. We self-source every picture and review on our site and work closely with quality commercial data institutions, industry veterans, local businesses, vendors and public resource providers.
  2. Do things the right way...this means some tasks are manual. Moderation of every review and response on our site is done by hand. We’re not interested in just anyone’s feedback or response. We’re interested in professional, verified feedback in a two way setting.
  3. Our core platform should be 100% free for Tenants, providing them with the tools, information and educational resources they need to make better lease decisions in a safe, and comfortable environment to write, respond and browse verified feedback.

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A better decision at your fingertips.

So….how about the other side of that coin? The buildings and their representatives that lease the spaces. Landlords and their representatives still need to find Tenants for their buildings, what about them...what do they think of all this?

Tenants first! No, but seriously, a true CRE solution works with both parties, even if we’re fully aligned with the Tenants, as their unbiased resource part of serving that Tenant membership effectively is connecting them with the best available properties and best quality buildings and representatives. So how does that work? You guessed it, we shut up and listened again.

We spent a fair amount of time interviewing, consulting and listening to them as well. Low and behold, this group had a few pain points of their own.

  1. Broker’s spent an inordinate amount of time “qualifying” potential users that were a mismatch for their lease assignments. This led to frustration and wasted efforts. On a commission-based income, time is all you have.
  2. In addition to wasted time, leasing agents felt the representatives of small businesses (when available) were often unqualified, quasi-residential or family representatives with little to no additive quality to the lease process. To top it off, they pay them 67% of the total commission as well, in some cases for just “staying out of the way” to get the deal done.
  3. The concern with where marketing dollars are spent is very real. 70% of brokers want to maximize dollars spent (or fees paid to house) and are not encouraged by the current online tools. Signage and referrals are still viewed as the best marketing opportunities...in the 21st century! Clicks, impressions, e-blasts etc...are nonsense to most. To an individual broker, time and efforts when working with potential users is about quality, not quantity.
  4. Managers and owners felt information was often parsed, leading to surprises when Tenants moved out and failed to renew. Oftentimes they were willing to make changes, listen to their Tenants but the information either wasn’t collected or it was too late. Retention saves an owner up to 67% on a gross commission basis, per deal.
  5. Property managers told us they were tired of hearing a familiar complaint from a Tenant, that they were told something from a broker or their lease was confusing, etc...they feel they bear the brunt of these frustrations from Tenants due to no fault of their own in most cases.

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So we said OK, we can help you with all of that.

Although Tenavox is a site built for Tenants, ultimately our hope is they find a great lease experience and make an informed decision. Imagine as an owner, leasing agent or property manager having a more informed, qualified and satisfied consumer of your real estate assets. Imagine a smoother renewal process, a cleaner management relationship. Imagine making decisions on building improvements and maintenance based on real feedback, unparsed and delivered directly.  

Envision optimized operations based on real feedback and better decisions through better information. By empowering the Tenant, we can help buildings (and their representatives) do a better job in serving them, from dreaming of space to renewal after 10 years of lease time. We help Tenants at ALL points in a lease, not just at transactions.

So building representatives save time, serve more qualified and educated consumers, who in turn have a more satisfactory lease experience thus increasing the likelihood of a renewal. We don’t waste our users time, and we certainly don’t waste their money...Novel, huh?

Working together to create a better lease experience.

That’s our goal with Tenavox, that with these newly empowered, educated Tenants buildings work to be more transparent, more accountable and work to provide better lease experiences. We connect our Tenants with the best available properties that suit them, not a promoted post or a sponsored listing or a long list of “guess/maybe/cross your fingers” buildings. We make connection as easy as a single click, and we’re here to answer any questions from our members that they may have. It’s about putting the best resources in front of businesses, and letting them educate, empower at their pace.

We’re not brokers, we’re not looking to represent our members or sell to them, we’re not transactional.  We’re built for the way leasing should work, not the status quo.

Lastly, we know transparency comes at a cost to some. Some owners, brokers or managers will be frustrated with the veil being lifted. They’ll disagree with their VoxRating or VoxRate. We’re willing to listen. Remember, our process allows any building representative to claim their asset and respond to feedback, we truly believe that is and always will be, a two-way street...However, if you don’t treat your Tenants well, haven’t listened, improved your assets and have been mailing it in for years while your Tenants have suffered, that’s over. We will work to end bad lease experiences as best we can. So tell your friends, tell your business partner, tell your partners...Tenavox is here to shake things up.

We know we’re nowhere near perfect and definitely and we have a lot of work to do, tools to build, features to be developed, tested and rolled out. Our launch represents our first real step in a long mission to make commercial leasing the best it can be. We hope you’ll join us in this vision. Now let’s go make some better lease decisions ;)

As always, we’re available for questions, comments, feedback below. We’re in Houston now, but expect to roll out shortly in Austin this year and Dallas in early 2018. We will become a national platform that connects and empowers better leases, coast-to-coast.

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  Transparency, accessibility and quality. The competitive edge.

Oh, and tenant reps? Don’t feel left out. We’re building a way for the best of you to be connected, in a smart, efficient manner, to the Tenants that ask for a great representative in their markets. We aim to make the best of you available to our users that want to engage. Feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be happy to elaborate.

Thanks for reading as always ;) 

Josh

You can connect with Josh at josh@tenavox.com or through one of our social channels. Follow us!

@Tenavox

https://www.facebook.com/Tenavox/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/11100314/

 

You can find his personal blog on the journey from CRE to the world of tech here:

 

https://medium.com/@josh.feinberg

 

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