In another installment of the Yardi coworking Think Tank series, we compiled a panel of industry experts to discuss secrets of success in a coworking market that’s more competitive than ever.
The full piece appeared in Property Week and the link to the complete free article is at the bottom of this post.
- Maria Cheung – director and head of interior design, Squire & Partners
- Giles Fuchs – chief executive, Office Space in Town
- Justin Harley – regional director, coworking, Yardi
- Alessa McNally – head of member’s experience, The Office Group
- John Williams – head of marketing, The Instant Group
- Simon Creasey – (chair) contributing editor/features, Property Week
Key Components to Creating Your Brand
The most common response to the question about the keys to a successful branding was location. While this may seem like the obvious choice, its imperative that your location choice defines your brand. According to John Williams of The Instant Group, the demand for second cities and the rise of suburban markets was predictable. In the UK specifically, ‘demand in cities like Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester is increasing by 25-30% every single year at the moment.’
Giles Fuchs stated that their goal in London is that a location has to be located within a 4-5 minute walk from a tube or rail hub. Anything else was not ideal location.
In discussing the design and fit-out of the space, Maria Cheung stated that it has become massively important, but that wasn’t always the case. Standards now have been raised and the change from fixed desks has allowed members to value ‘natural light, biophilia, control of environment and even acoustics.’
Of course, community is a vital component of coworking. No space is going to be successful with a bunch of independent members working in solitude. Williams referred to the topics at GCUC in Denver recently, in which operators mentioned ‘running at really high occupancy rates, retain clients for a long time, and know them by name, know their families and their issues, and work incredibly hard to keep them.’
Overcoming Operational Challenges
In the coworking world, landlords have to adjust to the fact it’s not as simple as handing someone the keys to a space, with a 10 year lease, and hopefully never having to hear from them again. You’re now dealing with hundreds of tenants in a single building or space. It is imperative to shift from being a rent collector to being a driver of a very human experience and first have a strong understanding of what it takes to operate in this market, as Alessa McNally stated.
Onboarding and technology can be a challenge that affects member relationships with operators. According to Yardi’s own Justin Harley, one of the top three reasons people say they are leaving a building or a coworking space is consistently because the internet isn’t good enough. ‘We all know you have to get as much bandwidth as you can get and it has to work,’ he said.
‘It also comes down to what data insights can you get about what is really happening in your buildings because you can make customer informed decisions,’ Harley added.
Fuchs divides these tech and onboarding factors into several sectors. Broadband connectivity is the first, CRM is the second, and the accounts package is the third.
Use data to your advantage when considering design and fit out of your space. Big data will tell you how people are using the space specifically, as Cheung noted. Data will tell you how many meeting rooms you need, or how much break out space, or how much common areas you need. The more you understand your members’ usage, the better you will be able to overcome design challenges.
In closing, each of the panelists also gave a one sentence piece of advice to a newcomer entering the market. To read these very direct and powerful pieces of advice, as well as the full panel discussion, please click here.
To learn more about Yardi Kube and its powerful, single connected solution for coworking operators, please click the link below.