Running a Multi-location Workspace: How to Switch on the Economies of Scale
This article is a must-read for ambitious coworking space operators actively growing their projects and believing in a magic formula of the economies of scale. Here you will learn a few tricks that will help to manage your multiple workspace branches smoothly and earn more while keeping your members and visitors happy.
Running a Multi-location Coworking Space Network is Beneficial in Many Ways
Branching out is the most natural way of developing a workspace business project. There are numerous benefits multi-location enterprises enjoy and the main of them is revenue growth of course, which is proved by industry experts.
90% of coworking spaces generate a profit if they meet at least four conditions, first and foremost of which is that they have more than 200 members. - Coworking Handbook
Another interesting fact from the same source:
WeWork is harming 40% of all coworking spaces in its close vicinity. Among the coworking spaces based in the direct vicinity, within 1 km of the WeWork locations, 40% stated that the presence of WeWork negatively affected their business and that clearly outnumbers the positive ones (26%).
Besides, the bigger your project grows, the most cost-efficient it becomes, which is the phenomenon of scale economies in action. You can save on different things:
- Bulk procurement of goods necessary for running a flexible workspace (tea, coffee, cleaning, and hygiene stuff, etc.) When you purchase larger quantities of office supplies, the price for a unit is lower than usual.
- Staff salaries. When you open a new workspace you do need to hire a few new people like a couple of community managers and a cleaning team. But a lot of positions can be shared between the branches. For instance, you don’t need to hire one more accountant, marketer, support manager, and sales representative.
- Lower-interest charges when borrowing from banks. Banks always have special advantageous offers for big clients.
- Marketing.You don’t need to run separate marketing campaigns for every branch, so one single campaign brings much better ROI.
To make a long story short, running a multi-location coworking space is similar to a sea voyage on a Symphony of the Seas, an 18-deck 1,188 feet cruise ship. You don’t feel how rough the sea is and will weather even the most severe storm. Just think about the current pandemic and coworking industry giants like Hera Hub, 1871, Impact Hub, and others. They turned out to be much more COVID-19 crisis resistant while multiple workspaces with a single location closed.
However, operating a multi-location empire can become challenging at times. You need to find the most efficient management solutions, automate workflows, enable members across all branches to enjoy the same perks, etc.
Read on and get to know 5 secret tactics that will help you switch on the economies of scale for your shared workspace network from the very beginning allowing you to grow faster, open new locations, keep your focus on customers, and leave competitors behind.
Undoubtedly, the biggest pain of all coworking operators is negotiating an ideal lease, though I entirely agree with Liz Elam (Founder of GCUC and the Owner of Link Coworking) here:
“No one is going to get an ideal lease because landlords are smart. If you have an ideal lease it’s because of a bad landlord.” - The Cost of Coworking
Every coworking space operator has to build their uneasy relationship with a landlord on its own and since I can’t help here, let’s pass to the matters I have more expertise with — shared workspace management and customers' experience improvement.
When running a multi-location coworking space, the first thing you want to make sure of is that you don’t manage bookings manually. Meeting rooms, conference rooms, and desks booking are some of the most frequent activities multiple workspaces administrators need to deal with.
With one location, you have a single user base and a community manager knows everyone. However, things change drastically when you scale up. A community manager administrating one location doesn’t know who may come from another location.
But you must provide all customers across your network a consistent experience. Your conference rooms must be easy to find, pay for, and reserve. Please note that providing a consistent user experience doesn’t mean you can sacrifice members' privacy. You can’t give community managers access to the personal details of all members. You need to respect residents’ privacy and keep location databases separate.
andcards booking system will help you solve the issue. It will keep members' directories separately within one and the same technology platform. This way, each community manager will see only members that belong to a particular location. While members will be able to book desks, meeting, and conference rooms across all multiple locations of the network.
Reservation via mobile or web apps doesn’t require any location manager or community manager assistance. The system is fully self-service. With the cross-location booking, members choose where they want to hold their meetings or spend their workday (see rooms/desks photos, descriptions, specifications, check real time availability) and pay with credits or cards from any place, be it a bus stop, home, restaurant, another country, whatever. Payments are also processed automatically by the coworking software.
Additional services and benefits add value to coworking space membership. Some services and benefits vary for every new workspace location and some stay the same. For instance, you may use different food catering companies for different locations or offer discounts to different nearby restaurants.
How can andcards system help to save a manager's time on adding the same perks? You just create separate catalogs for perks that are available for free and services that are paid and decide which locations will see them. You add locations, not services/benefits, which is much faster. Members of the added branches will always have an up-to-date perks list and apply for the items they wish from the web or mobile apps.
The pros of such an approach are obvious — you don’t have to spend additional efforts on services/benefits promotion. Since they are accessible from the same app that members use for bookings, they are always updated on the new additions to both catalogs across all locations.
Furthermore, you are not limited by one location. You can sell your services to all your residents across the network, which increases the profit.
And finally, new members can easily discover your perks and services, choose from an array of items, apply, and even pay for the things they want right inside the app.
No matter what location do coworking members belong to, they may have questions that require immediate assistance. These queries may be repeated or unique.
Excellent customer support is vitally important for hospitality projects like coworking spaces where everything revolves around coworking members' experience, members' satisfaction, and happy members. So, I advise you to follow the good practices of mature businesses and appoint a dedicated customer support representative. In most cases, a skillful professional and awesome customer support system are enough to resolve all members’ issues before they turn into problems.
Most often customer support professionals use services like Intercom or Zendesk to handle the queries. Such platforms let administrators work in the context (they see user details and all previous conversations), which enables them to respond quickly, be straight-to-the-point, and close support tickets faster while keeping members happy since their problems are promptly addressed.
Besides, most of the best online support services including Intercom and Zendesk mentioned above, integrate with andcards coworking software. The integration will add a support chat icon on the home page of your app. Members will tap this icon to open support chat should they encounter any issue and get help immediately.
The biggest value and benefit of a multiple location workspace is that a network’s community includes hundreds of people. You surely want to keep your happy & healthy coworking communities together. Each member should have the possibility to communicate with peers, get regular updates, and read community news which requires a unified singleplatform.
It might be challenging to find appropriate media suitable for every new member as this is a matter of preference. Some residents like Facebook, others use WhatsApp… The only solution here is to offer the community to use your own branded “social network.” Stream newsfeed and communication tool from andcards offers all features members got used to on social media sites (likes, comments, emoji, feed, images, videos, etc.)
However, Stream is much more exclusive. It will give members a sense of belonging to the community and keep them informed and updated on all essential news.
And the last but not the least point for multi-site operators is about coworking space events scheduling. Fun and business events are like community building blocks. You are running them no matter the pandemic because events help your growing business preserve its original communal vibe.
There are many tools to schedule coworking space events but I believe the most convenient is the one allowing to provide a list of upcoming events sorted by date right inside the main app. It will enable members across all your locations to get notifications about new events, browse them, read descriptions, see photos, apply, and even have a reminder-widget for the applied upcoming events on the home page of their workspace apps.
Running a multi-location workspace brand can be challenging sometimes, however, it’s never boring and always thrilling. When mushrooming and developing your shared office business, you have all chances to take advantage of the economies of scale and to start getting real profit.
The main idea is to build new locations but erase the borders between them. Use unified tools mentioned above to do more while spending less. Digitalize your bookings, sales, billing and invoicing, keep the focus on members, connect them, give them the choice of amenities, and possibilities for self-service. This is the key to sustainable growth and success on a larger scale.
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