Start early. Many companies wait too long before starting the process. Landlords know they don't have to be as competitive if you don't have time to shop around. Let's say you approach your landlord 2 months before your lease expires. He knows that you don't have time to go search the market for other options, negotiate with those landlords, get a lease signed, get construction finished, get an internet connection set up and move in that amount of time.
Fewer options - higher price. So guess what? Instead of offering you a competitive rental rate that should probably be lower than what you had been paying (at least right now in this tenant's market), he quotes you a rate equal to or even higher than what you have been paying. Now your only option is to stay where you are or hope you can find a space already built out to a configuration that works for your needs.
So start early. This provides plenty of time for negotiating leverage and wiggle room. The process always takes longer than you expect. Allow a generous amount of time for unexpected delays in the leasing process. Holidays, business and personal travel, changes in personnel, and building sales are only a few of the things that can significantly delay the lease. Our average transaction takes 5-6 months from the date we are engaged. It can take far longer in some cases and occasionally can be much faster, but 5-6 months is a good time frame for planning.
Of course, engaging a professional tenant representative to search and negotiate on your behalf is the best way to ensure the process goes smoothly and your goals will be realized. For more information on using a tenant rep, please go to my website.