I lived in Paris for over 2 decades and am now happily married to a Frenchman. Returning to New York City 11 years ago has not cut me off from the fantastic French way of life. I have had the immense pleasure of working with and for dozens of French colleagues and entrepreneurs. And luckily I get to enjoy trips back to my adopted country both for business and pleasure.
Did you know that the French often take off a few (!) weeks vacations in the summer? Typically they take the whole month of July or, even better, all of August! Then, there are the really smart ones who take off from mid-July to mid-August. These guys have it figured out — they get two more weeks in August as a bonus! If no one else is back from vacation, an 8-hour workday is easier to get used to when no one notices you roll in at 10 am!
So, around the first week of September, all of France fully embraces what has become my favorite part of the year. It is called “La Rentree” which means “The Return,” and we are all “Revenants,” which translates into “A person who returns after a long absence.”
Surely you are asking what might my Francophilia, long summer vacations, and a Leonardo DiCaprio movie possibly have to do with running a coworking space? Fair question and one that deserves a succinct and easy-to-digest reply.
Okay, let me break it down for you. In fact, you are familiar with the concept. Ever had to get kids ready to back to school? You start getting everyone to bed earlier, everyone is thinking about what they are going to need to do well in their classes, and… new laptop? New glasses? Parents get into a routine of and start to conceive a plan of action for scheduling after-school activities, daycare, lunch making, carpooling, etc.
Going off to college we all know what’s needed before drop-off day on campus. Back in my day, all you needed was your Dad’s gas station credit card and maybe a large jar of peanut butter! Now, our kids need a nice big gift certificate for Bed Bath & Beyond, a new cell phone, laptop, and maybe even an SUV! (Look, we just sent our two off to college — one sophomore and one junior — we’re broke!)
But I digress. Back to why thinking like the French do can help us in the world of running a coworking space! Given the next 4 months are going to be insanely busy, why not use this week and next to ensure those next four months are really productive and profitable and get us set up to finish 2018 ahead of the gang!
I hope you accept the challenge to use this time, the Return, to make sure 2018 is a great year at your space(s). Get ready to learn new things — ready to make new acquaintances, ready to push the envelope a bit further than you ever thought possible. You are ready to handle it like a BOSS!
We have some really good questions and answers, and we are here to help you get your list ready.
- What kind of resources are there for me to learn how to be leaner, smarter, faster and stay ahead of the competition?
- What are some more efficient ways to reach out to my community to show them some love? What is everyone else doing?
- Are there any associations that I might benefit from joining or events I could attend that would help me increase my skills?
- We still have 4 months left, so what can we do to increase our occupancy and thus increase profits (or reduce losses!)?
Here are the goodies for your knapsack/bookbag…
- The right tech stack is critical to the success of a coworking space. Leverage technology to market your space, create operational efficiencies and to provide a better member experience. Check out this link for a good source of tools and download a very handy guide.
- Join the Global Workspace Association. You probably know about it, but if you did not, GWA is the connection-based resource for shared space operators, workplace strategists, real estate investors, and service providers to stay connected, current and competitive. I’m attending their annual conference and exhibition next in Austin TX Sept 12-14th and will bring back lots of tips and insights in my next blog.
- Get to know the amazing company included.co. They offer a great way for independent coworking owners to save money in purchasing supplies like coffee, laptops, software etc. In addition, you can extend your shared buying power and allow members of your community to benefit from the economies of scale (they too can get great deals on things like business insurance, professional printing accounting, tax filing, T-shirt printing and much more!) Member Benefits, when done right, will drive up the business value of coworking memberships.
- Looking for some practical and actionable advice on running your coworking space by focusing on KPI’s? While KPIs can be incredibly valuable for improving the performance of your coworking business it’s a useless exercise if you are not taking a strategic step-by-step approach to developing and implementing your KPIs. It pays to take some time to figure the right ones out. Doing so will help you and your team hit your growth objectives. Really good reading at this link: KPI’s
- Make sure to make time for ezines like http://www.deskmag.com/. Not only do they have great ideas but some great tools, too. Check out this tips page!
- Speaking of helpful tips, why reinvent the wheel? There are lots of useful toolkits out there. One we like is from nwc.co, who has compiled it from 10+ years of managing one of the NYC’s first coworking spaces and helping thousands of people start new spaces all over the world. Their toolkit is jam-packed with resources that can save the average coworking space owner countless hours. Find it here: NWC TOOLKIT.
- Also be sure to look into Allwork.Space — this online news publication delivers a broad range of news, trends, tips and insights from the flexible workspace industry. They also publish a second site, The Resource Library, which puts up-to-the-minute industry research at your fingertips. The Library features trusted resources and expert guides from all corners of the flexible workspace industry and beyond. Tap into the latest research and help your business grow at this link.
- Use free online tools like this profitability calculator. Craig Baute is a coworking consultant and the founder of Denver coworking space Creative Density, which he opened in 2011. Over the past year, he has developed an online calculator tool designed to give new operators projected costs and revenue during the first 12 months of opening a space. Launched in March this year, the calculator produces a report giving a snapshot of key costs like rent, utilities, furniture and staff, and according to Craig, it can be presented to third parties as part of an application for loans or investment. The calculator provides a guideline on estimated potential revenue by the 13th month, after space has been open for one year. Here’s the link to the full story.
- And last but not least, be sure to ask others about how they build results-driven promotions. The owner of a coworking space we know tells us “We have found that a 1 month discount on a 12-month agreement works well. The discount is split by 12 and applied evenly to every month so as to not affect cash flow, and the best thing is that after the first year it would simply revert to the original price so that downward price creep does not set in. One of our real estate agents told me that in Australia they used the same strategy with 3 months free for a 12-month agreement and was the most successful membership drive they have done to date.”
As you head off with your pencils sharpened and your knapsack full of new things to help you succeed, I only ask that you take a second to digest the following: many don’t learn until it’s too late that people aren’t enticed to work in a space simply because it’s pretty. While there is a lot to be said about the utility and impact of the look and design of your space(s) and we all know that people need to feel a sense of belonging and community etc., the harsh reality is this is a business and there is a bottom line.
After all, you are not running a charity. You are a business person and want to be profitable while owning or operating a gorgeous thriving community of people who can go anywhere they want. At Upflex, we are all about making sure you not only provide a great experience but know who to partner with to make money (instead of losing it).
As we leave Labor Day 2018 in the dust, let’s get ready to go back to work with a slightly French twist. Use “The Return” to make use of some sweet tips that will help you ace the year and enter 2019 top of the class!
Here’s to not getting eaten alive by the bears out there (aha…at last…my Leo DiCaprio allusion)!