Agents of tower companies, wireless carriers and lease buyout firms are under constant pressure to make something happen – not just with your site, but with all the tens or hundreds of sites that they have been assigned. They are required to record and report the number of times that they reach out to a specific landowner, as well as what happened during the call. They have perfected techniques that push the landowner into a deal. Signing bonuses, drop dead dates, and threats of site relocation are some of the techniques that are intended to spur you into agreeing to a deal. We want you to understand that if you are already party to a cell site lease, time is on your side, and that the closer the lease gets to expiration, the more leverage you have in negotiations. In other words, do not feel that if you do not sign quickly, you will lose the opportunity. The exception to this tip is that with proposed leases for new cell sites, you should be as responsive as you can be. Tower companies and wireless carriers might have an equally viable option to your land, such as your neighbor’s, so if you are interested in a new lease, consult with us right away.
In standard negotiations, the party who throws out the first offer is typically at a disadvantage. However, in cell tower negotiations, it is almost always the tower company or lease buyout company that throws out the first offer. With cell tower companies, they almost always throw out lowball offers, because they assume that they are dealing with uninformed landowners. During the past year or so, lease buyout companies have been throwing out high offers because they have found that they can’t get your attention given the number of companies all trying to contact landowners. Our recommendation is that you shouldn’t counter their offer unless they have made a remotely interesting offer to start with. If their offer isn’t worth your consideration, just reject it and tell them it isn’t interesting. A better offer is likely to come your way (and if you’re certain this is the road you want to take, we can help you find it).
Many negotiation “coaches” will suggest that you need to listen more than speak. They suggest this because the expectation is that you can’t know what the other side is thinking. If you have retained our services, you will know much of what they are thinking because we provide it to you in our Assessment. However, as good as we are at what we do, we can’t know everything. If the other side is particularly reluctant, you have to be prepared to ask questions. If they suggest that the site has negative cash flow, ask them to prove it. If they tell you that due to a merger between two carriers, there is a chance that they might lose some revenue, ask them if they know whether that merger will impact your specific tower. Have they received a termination notification or not? The tower company and lease buyout agents are skilled at misdirection. They rarely lie outright, but they know how to imply something that leaves you thinking what they want you to think. A good negotiator asks questions to improve his understanding of the situation, and then comes back to his/ her consultant to discuss what the new information means.