Since introducing the andcards platform, all desks at Hatcham House are fully booked weeks ahead, no admin fingers lifted. How did they manage to achieve a fully self-service booking and payment process?
Let’s find out!
Hatcham House is a small community workspace with a big mission located in South London. Stephen Carrick-Davies, the founder of the project, operates it on a very accessible membership basis.
They provide a concessions membership for students and people on universal credit and work with local organisations (i.e. housing organisations) to subsidise places for local residents who wouldn’t normally be able to afford membership. The workspace provides daily hot-desking space along with a place to hatch local community events, enterprises, and employment opportunities.
“Excellence attracts attention. Being a community project, we have high standards — high standards of comfort, high standards of use. People become guests, guests always return when you deliver high quality .”
Stephen Carrick-Davies, here and below unless otherwise noted
Hatcham House opened its doors in a time of COVID-19 uncertainty with the idea of transforming a traditional working man’s club into a vibrant community workspace to support those in work, and those who are under-employed, those active in the community, and those wanting to re-connect with local customers and causes.
“I believe that post-Covid we have a unique opportunity to recalibrate a better work-life balance, not just in terms of personal mental health, but also in our relationships with our neighbors and the wider community.”
Just like every coworking space business, Hatcham House faced a lot of challenges on their way to success.
Hatcham House administrators accepted and processed all membership and booking requests manually via phone calls, email, Facebook, and saved them on Google Docs.
“When we first started, customers were just ringing us up asking if they can come down and join. We had a big spreadsheet where we were trying to check who is coming when. In those startup days, it was fine because we had more capacity than members."
"But I remember when we re-opened after the first Covid lockdown. It was crucial we had a booking app. It was a kind of insurance we had to invest in to get our members back after lockdown, that had to know that there was social distancing in place, that their desks cleaned and prepared for them, that they had the flexibility to book spontaneously. And that above all we were operating a safe space.”
Manual administration took too much time, and caused delays, resulting in lost opportunities and poor customer experience. It was difficult to predict how many people were going to come and which desks were reserved and which could be sold.
“Just imagine “ring up — ok, let me check — I’ll get back to you” — all the time. So, the manual operations were cumbersome, they weren’t efficient. People didn’t get a quality experience. I mean if you overpromise and don’t deliver, you can build your reputation for several years and lose it in several days.”
Situations like this happen when systems are not automated and customers can’t stay in control. Monetization opportunities were lost as many seats stayed empty during the days.
Furthermore, in the old days, charging fees was more complicated than it should be. Admin had to check their Google Sheets for due membership fees all the time and then chase members and remind them several times to pay their bills.
Naturally, Stephen wanted to get rid of the described bottlenecks. He reached out to andcards team for a solution.
“In the business world, we have a phrase, in the UK people say we need the “the killer app”. There is a lot of overtalking about finding a killer app, which will become a “silver bullet” that solves the problem. We were not an exception, we were looking for a one-stop solution.”
“Most of the apps were quite expensive for us, so it was a risk. But we had no option. If we were to survive Covid, had to have an agile, flexible business tool, andcards specialized in the exact area we were looking at and offered reasonable pricing policy.”
1. Members Book in a Tap
All bookings today are made through the Hatcham House app and these are processed automatically, without any manager’s assistance. It’s a dream come true — a fully automated and self-service process for everyone involved.
“Every booking is made and paid for via the andcards app. When a new member signs up they get access to the app as one of the membership benefits, it not only allows them the flexibility of on-demand booking, they can also buy tickets to events and connect with other members here. A streamlined booking and communications platform, made easy for everyone. And they love it. It’s a very good selling point, the “”A-Ha!” factor. It’s the sweet spot that helps people realize we are highly automated professionals”
Laura Agnew, Hatcham House community manager
Members just open the Hatcham House app, go to Desks, and book in two taps. andcards interface is optimized for the most intuitive and frictionless user journey.
Administrators can now focus on higher added value tasks, such as selling more memberships or engaging with customers.
“When you develop a community workspace and charge people to use it , they want a good-quality service. The app helps us both attract members but also keep members on board. We can communicate with them as a community through the app so they feel they have a unique experience of interacting with a local work community. It has revolutionized our space and offering.”
2. Instant Payment Collection
Hatcham House booking system is connected to a payment gateway for automatic payment processing and collection.
Members can pre-pay for their bookings using credit or debit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay. Once the payment goes through, the booking is automatically confirmed. They get an automated receipt which really helps if they want to claim their booking from their employer.
“The app manages itself, meaning we can spend less time on admin tasks and instead spend the time improving our space and the experience for the community who use it.”
Administrators are completely free from having to deal with any payments. As a business owner, we can concentrate on the things technology can’t do — which is to make great coffee for our guests, organize meet-ups, introduce young people who want mentoring, and develop employment community outreach.
“As much as possible we drive people to the app because it makes our life so simple.”
3. Full House Within Just a Few Months
Fully self-service bookings unlocked the power of data for Hatcham House’s business growth.
“Now it takes a few seconds to see who is coming today, tomorrow, and who came yesterday. Days, when we used spreadsheets for that, have gone. The app gives us confidence to predict the future, to monitor, assess. And predict take up.
For instance, it was the Easter holiday here and we had only 4 people inside. I thought “Gosh, I won’t have enough money to pay the coffee bill”. But then 10 minutes later 3 into the more members had booked for that day and were on their way ...”
Now Stephen and Laura now know the average daily occupancy rate. This allows them to gradually sell more memberships, reaching 100% occupancy and maximum business efficiency.
They also have a great platform to experiment with prices and workspace configuration. andcards helps to identify key factors influencing purchase decisions, and do business based on data rather than guesswork.
“We quickly got to a full house within just a few months after the launch of the Hatcham House apps powered by andcards.”
“We were looking for a solution and in andcards we found a perfect partner. They came alongside us and explained what we could do to side-by-side test and explore, build an ecosystem, create a platform for booking, communication, ticketing. We also appreciated the way that they were willing to adapt the app to take into consideration new requirements we had like booking for events, membership benefits, mentoring tie ups and the STREAM service which gives our members a notification on their phone of a special event or other member’s service.”
"95% of members now use the app to book and pay. There are only 2 people that don’t. One doesn’t have a smartphone and the other is not very tech-confident."
Hatcham House bookings growth graph since andcards coworking software adoption
“I guess the best way to measure the impact of the app on business is no empty seats. The app helped us to increase space occupancy. Now we can easily manage space utilization. The app gives us the confidence to build a program. Now we have the success criteria, ensuring that people knew, booked, and used our services.”
“I can honestly say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the app. The app made us more efficient and gave customers’ confidence. It became the tool to sustain and expand the business.”