Very excited to hear about your business. Remember this is a negotiation. Landlords are willing to pay a lot of money to get a client. That means they will give you free rent, tenant improvements etc to get a good company in their center.
You are also selling yourself. A Landlord is thinking: Is this a tenant I want in my space? Will they help or hurt my center? Are they going to drive traffic? Will they pay rent on time? Am I willing to spend my own money to get these guys as a tenant and is it going to be worth it? Should I spend $2,000 on a coffee shop or $15,000 on a juice bar? The more of these questions YOU can answer, the more likely they are going to choose you as a tenant.
Questions to ask yourself (because the Landlord might ask you this):
Do you have $$ for Tenant improvements? How are you going to pay to open the coffee shop?
Do you have insurance in place?
Who is going to guarantee the lease? You? Your company? etc.
Do you have corporation formed to sign the lease (to limit your liability?)
Credit score ready (they will probably ask)?
Do you have last 3 years of financials?
Do you have current sales or pitch deck why your company is going to crush it and always pay rent on time? Marketing plan?
If not do you have your financials/bank accounts etc ready? If they ask?
You should ask what some other tenants in the area are paying for rent. Ask in $$ per square foot if possible.
Do you have a space plan or what your requirements will be (bar area, machines, sinks, prep areas, seating, tables, etc.
To Ask the Landlord (need to know):
How much is monthly rent?
What does it cover?
NNN or Gross?
% of Sales?
Utilities? Which ones?
Insurance or taxes?
What are insurance requirements (for tenants)?
To Ask the Landlord (To Get Leverage):
TI allowance? What are you offering?
What is current demand for space? Have you signed any deals yet?
Lease Commission? Will you pay my broker?
What did the last tenant pay for space?
Will you process tenant improvement plans on my behalf?
So far it seems that about 90% of people do NOT want to meet for coffee. Instead they just want me to ask questions over email which is more efficient but less effective in getting relevant contacts and opportunities.
A few thoughts:
0) Awesome you are putting yourself out there and going for it. You are already far ahead of your peers by reaching out to people in your industry. Also! The fact that you are getting any response at all is huge. Imagine getting no responses at all, let alone them answering your questions. Keep it up!
1) Are you the people you are reaching out to “warm contacts”?
By that I mean is there someone you know who knows them? If not you may want to try to start with people you already know. In my experience people are more likely to meet with someone who’s recommended them/introduced them. Idea: who would be friendly to your cause? A teacher who can intro you? A friend? Someone in your current job? Family? Start your network with people who know and like you and let it grow from there. In my experience it was slow going at first but really ramped up as you keep at it and meet 5-10 times with different people.
2) What level of experience are you targeting for coffees?
1-2 yrs experience engineers? 5-10? 30-40 years? I have found that targeting people your own age yields worse results, but people just a little ahead of you in their career are more likely. People much older are harder unless you get referred.
3) What kind of engineers?
I get the feeling there are two kinds: people-liking-engineers and non-people-liking-engineers. I am generalizing but I think this is true. Some people are intimidated by going to coffee with someone new and some aren’t. If you can (and this is tricky) figure out who is more likely to say Yes. A way you may be able do this by looking at people’s job descriptions, profile pictures etc on Linkedin. Are they smiling? Is there job description technical or more product focused. I know I am generalizing but I think you know what I mean.