As a veteran attorney and lease negotiator, there was one scenario Marc Betesh saw all too often:
“You work for days — and sometimes weeks — in fashioning exactly what you're going to pay for and exactly what you're not going to pay for,” he said. “And then at the end of the day, the lease goes into a drawer somewhere and nobody knows what it says.”
It's what caused Betesh to enter the business of “lease auditing” in 1985, working to ensure commercial tenants didn't over pay for building services that were covered in the deal. But he took that one step further 10 years later when he founded Visual Lease, a software platform to help tenants track, manage and analyze their leases across many properties.
Today, the system manages more than 20,000 leases and some 70 million square feet, with clients ranging from law firms with 15 offices to Avis Budget Group, the vehicle rental giant with thousands of sites nationwide. And the Woodbridge-based business has found success in a real estate industry that hasn't always been quick to embrace technology.
The Web-based program is designed to help users with multiple real estate facilities, taking information from each lease and funneling it to a clean, user-friendly system, Betesh said. That means users can quickly access details such as critical dates — an upcoming lease expiration, for example — or rental rates and key clauses in the document.
Betesh said that when a company can manage its properties and dozens of deadlines, it “saves time and creates efficiencies in the whole leasing and operational process. And it removes a huge area of risk for companies with these expensive transactions.”
The business evolved from KBA Lease Services, the lease auditing firm he founded three decades ago within the Kislak Organization and now operates independently. When it came time to create Visual Lease in the mid-1990s, Betesh tapped real estate executives from the likes of Xerox and Bed Bath & Beyond.
“We sat in a room, and we papered the walls with requirements and things they wanted,” he said. “So we really had very good background and very good input from some of the leading companies.”
Such input has translated well for users who handle corporate location decisions, an area Betesh said “tends to get short shrift.” Besides helping them be good facilities managers, Visual Lease allows them to find efficiencies in their spaces, cut real estate costs and be proactive about business strategy.
“That's where real estate people get a seat at the C-suite table because they're able to generate ideas and ways that they can improve the company's operations, not just their real estate,” Betesh said.
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