Looking back on the origins of the coworking industry, the Regus brand dominated the market. As much as Regus is still a huge force to this day, WeWork has also emerged as an industry leader. As of 2018, WeWork was valued at roughly $20 billion.
But as we know, the shared workspace industry now is immersed with thousands of local coworking operators throughout the world. In other words, even with the dominance of a few major players, local brands are very successful in their own right, and they’ve carved out a significant niche in the industry.
How can a local operator establish a foothold strong enough to compete against the dominant brands in coworking?
In some locations, a floor leased to WeWork is more valuable than the building itself. As a local operator, there are several practices you can take to make your space competitive to your corporate neighbor. Some of these steps include embracing niche coworking, having a more organic workspace community, and streamlining the services that you offer.
Differentiators in Your Space
Just in Miami alone, there are 46 combined locations for WeWork and Regus. So how do local operators still manage to sustain and grow their business?
Coworking will never be a “one size fits all” solution for everybody. WeWork and other major brands may try to differentiate all of their locations to give them a unique feel to the city they’re in, but it’s certainly not the same as the attraction of a true local operator who knows the ins and outs of the neighborhood. Use this to your advantage, especially if this is a city you know very well. Cater your space to the local demographics.
One way to leverage your space is to cater to niche groups such as artists, female professionals, or people in a certain industry that rely on similar amenities for working together. This also helps with developing an authentic connection amongst everyone. A niche group of the same profession, such as lawyers or accountants, can automatically cultivate a community the best way possible – organically.
A major way of separating yourself from the WeWorks of the world is cultivating a community that grows organically, even outside of the workspace. This gives your workspace an inclusive feel, noticeable to anyone who visits. At the end of the day community is something created by your members, and can not be bought.
Host unique events and workshops, and find ways to bridge different companies within the workspace together. Networking events that are fun and engaging will give your workspace a strategic advantage in that it makes your space more inviting than corporate brands.
Another step in the right direction is to have a coworking management software that connects members together, similar to the way the WeWork app allows members within the workspace to message each other and directly communicate. Through community boards, chats, and member interaction, the community in your space will continue to grow.
Narrow the Scope of Your Services
Perform a competitive analysis of your biggest threats, be it a national brand or otherwise. Study what they do or do not currently offer and take advantage. If they are catering more toward corporations (a growing theme), then make sure you hone in on entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers. Listen to your members and visitors. If there’s a common theme in something they’re requesting or mentioning, find a way to serve that desire. Usually this is a sign that competitors could sweep them away if you don’t.
By utilizing these tips, your space can thrive even with corporate competition nearby. If you find your niches and cater to them, organically build your community and streamline your services, you can deliver an experience to your members that not only improves retention, but also captures the eye of prospects and guests. For more information on how to compete with the big brands as a local operator, please click the link below.