The world of office space has seen a whirlwind of change over the past 15 years. I’ve been at the executive-level of the shared office space industry, so I’ve seen a thing or two — and learned a thing or two. One key lesson I’ve taken away is the importance of striking a balance between staying ahead of the curve and continuing to observe tried-and-true business practices.
My top five list of business lessons includes a mix of new technology, theory, and timeless best practices.
1. Keep up with the Joneses
Remember when an executive suite location generated significant revenue from fax charges, admin services, and long distance calling? Clients only had a few choices for a shared office experience in any specific city or metro area. It was around the time when dot matrix computer printers were the cutting edge. Keeping up with coworking technology isn’t optional — it’s critical. It’s also important to ensure you’re providing new services that your clients view as essential, like private WiFi, management platforms, apps that connect, and events that truly amaze your client base. Remember that the services they rely upon today may not be important tomorrow. Make sure you’re always evaluating what you offer — things that your client base will value and build their business upon.
2. Getting cozy with other companies
The notion of shared office space — a place where professionals from different companies can work — space as a service is at an all-time high. According to Forbes:
“Back in 2007, the trend was almost unheard of, with only 14 documented coworking spaces in the United States. Now, there are more than 11,100, and we’re projected to see more than 26,000 spaces hosting 3.8 million people by 2020.”
Thanks to companies like WeWork, Regus, MakeOffices, and Serendipity Labs more companies than ever understand the value of the shared space model and how it can help their business grow and succeed. There's also been a boom in the spec suites model which caters to emerging small and mid-sized companies looking for coworking and traditional office space in one turn-key package. If you have that 5% of your real estate portfolio that sits idle, give coworking or spec suites some consideration, the business model is revolutionary.
3. Stick with your niche
No matter what your company does, rest assured that there are more competitors now than ever. This means you need to zero in on your niche or specialty. Ask yourself, who is your potential client base? What specific services are they looking for? How do you do this better than any other competitor? The more focused your approach, the better positioned you are to acquire new business and keep the clients you already have.
4. Walk the talk
There is no better measure of your client's well-being than walking the halls and having a chat. As your client base grows and thrives that face-to-face is not only a rewarding experience, but it’s also what keeps your clients in the space by building relationships in an atmosphere focused on customer service. It’s about literally going that extra mile — getting your hands dirty, using your network to make meaningful connections, and immersing yourself in the community. In short, become a meaningful strategic partner.
5. Get back to basics: Customer service
I would argue that good customer service is the cornerstone of any successful business. It’s pretty simple: People like being treated with respect. They expect their needs to be met in a timely manner. And if they aren’t consistently treated cordially and with professionalism, they will find somewhere else to do their business. It’s such an easy way to retain customers and clients, it’s really a no-brainer.
Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, I think it all boils down to sticking to what you do best, giving your clients everything you’ve got, and taking advantage of new business practices.
StellaPop is the coworking leader with 30 years of experience in management, development, strategy, sales, and workplace services. Let's chat if your business or portfolio is considering shared office space, coworking, or spec suites as a future business model.