2020 could be a great time to expand your coworking business. A growing number of people make their living outside of traditional offices, and it’s not always feasible or desirable for them to work from home.
Coworking spaces let people get stuff done in well-equipped spaces that foster a sense of community among the occupants. Buildings used for coworking can also become excellent for professional networking, enabling users to discuss their services and strengths with others.
You must have a solid strategy in place before attempting to scale your coworking business. These five tips will help.
1. Choose Suitable Markets for Scaling
It’s essential to research new markets before entering them. For example, if you set your sights on branching out into a city that already has several coworking brands represented in it, it’ll be much harder to differentiate your company and explain to potential customers why they should choose it.
A recent global study from Coworking Resources found that London and New York are the top cities for growth. But the coworking trend is, of course, taking off elsewhere too. Another finding published in the Coworking Resources study was that 65.3% of coworking spaces opening each year are new. In contrast, 26.2% are expansions.
Try to strike a balance by moving into a market that has an existing need but isn’t oversaturated with either just-launched or established coworking brands. It may also be helpful to ask people in potential markets who are especially likely to use coworking spaces — such as freelancers — if they’d be interested in what you offer provided that the expansion moves forward. If you’re interested in learning more about scaling your coworking business, check out The Ultimate Guide to Successfully Expanding Your Coworking Space.
2. Tweak Your Customer Onboarding Process
The new customer onboarding process involves explaining things like operating hours, access procedures, whether users can bring their pets to work and what membership includes. Now is a good time to survey your current customers and ask them what they liked best about your onboarding process and how to make it even better.
Choosing to scale your coworking business will likely require you to maximize efficiency while assisting more customers. Expanding could make any unaddressed onboarding problems more prominent.
If that happens, people may get frustrated, write unfavorable reviews and, ultimately, take their business elsewhere. Being proactive and committing to solving pressing onboarding-related problems now could make your plans more manageable.
3. Automate Some Parts of Your Workflow
Although the manufacturing industry was the first to capitalize on process automation, other sectors like health care and transportation now reap its benefits too. Automation can help scale your coworking business by handling repetitive tasks.
You might set up coworking management software to automatically generate invoices, charge members and respond to community requests. Most of the solutions offer additional white-label Mobile apps that allow coworking members to book a meeting room on their own, for example. Or, a chatbot could respond to potential customers, letting them know answers to questions like whether you offer 24-hour access or provide meeting room rentals.
Automating some manual tasks will leave you free to concentrate on scaling up without making customers feel overlooked. It will be especially advantageous to investigate automation if you have a relatively small workforce and can’t hire more people immediately.
4. Consider Appealing to Corporate Customers
You may think the best way to scale your coworking business is to angle your marketing efforts toward individuals. However, corporations may also be ready to rent from you.
According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Report, 91% of companies polled always intended to support remote work. Also, nearly a third of respondents said everyone in their companies worked remotely.
As brands continue to realize that remote working is the future, many want their off-site employees to enjoy some consistency. The Farm Soho is an award-winning New York City coworking space that began offering turnkey solutions for companies interested in renting spaces by the floor that include the businesses’ branding.
Taking a similar approach could help you engage with brands that want to have remote teams and prefer to give them reliable places to work. You might also opt to kickstart plans to grow your coworking business by creating separate sets of marketing materials or different website sections for corporate or individual customers.
5. Develop Customer Personas to Drive Your Marketing Efforts
As you investigate scaling up your coworking business, it’ll probably become apparent that your brand is better for some types of non-traditional workers than others.
Statistics indicate that the number of people utilizing coworking spaces will reach 2.26 million in 2020. Anyone from content writers to podcasters could inquire about your coworking options this year. Before they do, consider designing customer personas so that you can best cater to each group and show an ability to meet their needs.
There may also be some workers that are best suited for other places. For example, if your coworking space is a perpetually sociable place, the chatter might distract someone who needs a quiet environment for concentration, such as a transcriptionist.
In any case, strive to be honest and open about what you can or cannot offer. Then, it’ll be easier to set expectations your business can meet, increasing the chances for people to become longtime customers and refer their friends.
Wisdom for What’s Ahead
Scaling up is a major undertaking for a coworking business. It’s not a decision to make lightly, but you can proceed with more confidence by following these tips. You’ll almost certainly encounter some obstacles along the way, but showing a steadfast determination to tackle them will go a long way.
About the author:
Kayla Matthews has covered remote technologies and business trends for publications like WeWork, FlexJobs, The Muse and Inc.com. To read more from Kayla, please visit her blog, Productivity Bytes.