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  • Here is our third and final podcast about coworking space development with Brittanie Campbell-Turner of Constructrr.com 

    This episode is an interview with Wendy Spreenberg who is great resource for her expertise in workspace as a service.

    We discuss in this 3 part series, the most important things that I thought would be useful to the any one who is trying to start a co-working community.

    In this last part of the series, Wendy and I talk about the making sure the business model is sustainable to ensure the business owner’s success.

    Find the previous episodes of this Co-Working series at constructrr.com/11 and constructrr.com/12

    February 16th, 2017

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    Part 2 of our coworking podcast series with Brittanie Campbell-Turner of Constructrr.com 

    This episode is an interview with Wendy Spreenberg who is great resource for her expertise in workspace as a service.

    We discuss in this 3 part series, the most important things that I thought would be useful to the any one who is trying to start a coworking community.
     
    In this the 2nd part, we discuss how does understanding the community translate into the necessary design/architectural elements.
     
    If you want to know the answers to these questions – this episode is for you!
    1. To Coffee or Not to Coffee? and how?

    2. Do you need to do any renovation in your space to make it usable as a co-working space?

    3. If so, what did you do in order to get the space ready?

    4. What kind of furniture do you need?

    Find the next episode of this Coworking series at constructrr.com/13

    February 7th, 2017

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    When developing coworking spaces in partnership with our clients, we come across the most amazing (and frequently refreshing) perspectives on how to market and operate coworking spaces.

    To be sure, we love working with entrepreneurs – whether first timers or veterans. We ALWAYS learn something from each project we manage. Lifelong learning energizes us and keeps us in grounded in reality.

    Still, this quick list features marketing strategies that caused us to internalize a “huh, that’s interesting”:

    • A new coworking space in the CBD of a major market with many competitors (traditional shared space and coworking alike) put no money into a marketing budget, believing a strong strategy was to have a college student stand in front of the building wearing a sandwich board, handing out flyers about the new space

     

    • New coworking space in another major market that relied solely on social media to drive traffic to and awareness of the space. Ownership was operating the space as a secondary business and was too busy to build a community from Meetups and outbound networking events. Expected “if we build it, they will come”

     

    • Established space that pivoted to featuring only non-members as speakers and panelists at lunch and learns and after-hours networking events

     

    • Spaces that reject all corporate users (corporate users is a growing population). Context is key but worth reconsidering

     

    • Constant use of shock and awe language (as in something “sucks” or equivalent) in marketing tools. Over time it becomes ineffective and narrows your target demographic options

    We have worked with each of the above clients and have been successful at coaching a few into alternate directions. In our experience, clients that did not move from their marketing position above are no longer in operation.

    January 31st, 2017

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    Our humble thanks to Brittanie Campbell-Turner for featuring us in 2016 on her Constructrr Podcast. We focus our discussion on coworking.

    As described by Brittanie, “This episode is an interview with Wendy Spreenberg who is great resource for her expertise in workspace as a service.

    We discuss in this 3 part series, the most important things that I thought would be useful to the any one who is trying to start a co-working community.
     
    The first part is about what characteristics a co-working host have, and how a host should think about impacting their community.
     
    If you want to know the answers to these questions – this episode is for you!
    1. If you are a co-working host already, what were the benefits you desired when you first thought to do it?
    2. What did you decide your revenue model to be? Monthly, daily, hourly?
      Do you provide meeting spaces, or desk space only? What other amenities do you provide?
    3. Who do you market to?
    4. What are the challenges you find from being a host in a co-working space?

    Find the next episode of this Co-Working series at constructrr.com/12

    January 25th, 2017

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    Want to hear more about how we work with our clients? We deliver immersive business partnering to bring your coworking space alive!

    One aspect is to help you understand more about your particular SWOT in your market and with your location.

    Take a listen to Jamie Russo’s “Everything Coworking” podcast,

    Everything Coworking episode 37: SWOT Analysis of Experienced Operators in a Rapidly Evolving Market

    Wendy Spreenberg, President and Founder of SITE RESolutions, goes through a SWOT Analysis for experienced shared space operators in a rapidly evolving market.

    We explain how existing locations cannot simply tear down walls and insert a 500 sf coworking space in the middle of their floorplan. We also share how those exploring starting a coworking space cannot approach it as a “if we build it they will come”. Coworking is about hospitality, building community and relationships. Take a listen!

    January 17th, 2017

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    Cheers to Lake Forest, IL!

    champagne glasses

    LifeWorking Coworking in Lake Forest, IL announces the next of many opportunities to see the newest NorthShore coworking community take shape.

    LifeWorking Coworking has set two dates for Hard Hat tours, leading visitors through the space while it is under construction. The address is 717 Forest Avenue, 2nd floor. Completion is set for mid-August 2016.

    Steve Whittington, Founder and CEO explains what LifeWorking Coworking brings to professionals; “LifeWorking Coworking is a network of productive and collaborative spaces in both downtown Chicago and the suburbs – designed to enable you to deliver your best, most productive, marginal minute – for your job, while you network, so you can LifeWork!”

    Steve caught on to the concept of developing a coworking space from years spent working from offices, home, hammocks and coffee shops all over the world during his two decades at Proctor & Gamble. He observed a lack of highly functional and professional space where mobile workers could touch down for an hour or two, be highly productive and get on to the next priority in their day.

    “We felt we could deliver on the last mile for mobile workers, corporate refugees, retired executives and next-stage businesses to gain access to flexible workspace, meeting rooms, workstations and even open plan, relaxed seating in a community setting.”

    Eliminating isolation for solo-preneurs and free lancers is also part of the attraction of being a member of LifeWorking Coworking. Steve adds, “Our members will be invited to attend onsite educational sessions delivered by fellow members or area thought leaders. Part of our mission is enabling our member businesses growth opportunities through the connections they make at LifeWorking.”

    Join LifeWorking Coworking on Thursday June 9 “Suds and Dust”, between 4 pm and 7 pm on both days to tour the space and explore how this new workspace will enable you to deliver your best, most productive, marginal minute!

    May 26th, 2016

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    Well, we did indeed promise you truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories of our experiences in the world of developing coworking spaces.

    It’s a beautiful late-Spring day in a Midwestern town. We are traveling to meet with a prospective client who needs to reposition a 15-year old workspace to improve overall revenues and occupancy.

    The town has developed from a remote and heavily rural community to a desirable bedroom community within 10 miles of a suburban hub of a larger metro area. New homes in the town now command upwards of $450K.

    Based on our initial conversations, the onsite team has created a welcoming spirit and has been stable for 7 years. Currently, they generate approximately 35% of their revenue from additional services beyond space fees and technology. (for those not familiar, the average services revenue equals approximately 20% of overall business revenues) Our separate conversation with the onsite team confirms our impressions that they are competent, thoughtful and very service-oriented.

    This is a productive work environment for everyone.

    Location in their town is easily recognizable in a commercial/office area and is within 2 miles of trains to the metro downtown. A great option for prospective clients who need an office but only occasionally need to be downtown. Area amenities are increasing as the town develops. Specifically, a new health club and local restaurants have popped up within a quick drive of the building.

    As the initial conversation outlines, the client owned the building but has sold it to the current landlord and they negotiated a very reasonable rental rate through the next 3 years. Their current occupancy is approximately 70%.

    They’ve tried everything they can think of to advertise locally and maximize market awareness. Granted, their marketing materials could be updated, inclusive of their website. The owner has been very active in Chamber of Commerce networking and using local vendor/members for services to support the workspace.

    The client is open to putting in some funds toward updating marketing materials tools as well as the appearance of the space, with a single exception. This exception is that updating the reception lobby and is simply non-negotiable.

    As we drive into the parking lot, indeed, the lot is full of cars, the building is well maintained. Landscaping, decor, cleanliness all meet standards for a good, well-run property.

    We enter the workspace lobby and determine EXACTLY why they client is having difficulty increasing revenues and occupancy. In addition to the 1950’s themed outdoorsman artwork throughout, we are greeted by a mounted equivalent of this

    grizzly.standing

    The client is an avid outdoorsman and this is a personal trophy that he insisted on displaying in the lobby. Talk about frightening small children and nearly all the female prospects to the space!

    It took us 6 months of cajoling, reasoning, suggesting that finally convinced the client to relocate it off site on another property. The decor was updated at a reasonable cost and within 12 months (6 months post-trophy) the client achieved 87% occupancy and increased net profit by 18%.

    Sometimes the client gets in their own way.

    We could “bearly” contain our excitement at the outcome!

    If you’d like to share a story, please reach out to us.

    April 20th, 2016

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    We are delighted to announce the lease signing of LifeWorking Enterprises, LLC in Lake Forest, IL. Our congratulations to Steven Whittington, CEO on the first giant step to an August 2016 launch. LifeWorking is  the first coworking space in Lake Forest. Please see the full press release here: LifeWorking Lease Signing

    Steve brings numerous experts to bear on the launch and development of the first of many LifeWorking locations. YES! Your Exceptional Space is honored and privileged to collaborate with LifeWorking Enterprises on the Operational Development, or the “how will it work once we’ve opened”.

    As we have more to share, we invite you to stay connected to the story as LifeWorking rolls out the flagship!

     

    March 10th, 2016

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    Planting a Flag to post periodically what we encounter as interesting experiences, exchanges, topics, insights, etc. that create a little humor along the way during our journey within the Coworking sphere.

    Our combined experience has taken us across Europe and North America working with start-ups and those looking to reposition properties of all types to a more collaborative model.

     

    coworking words

    If the walls could talk…

    Posts may range from the fairly common (consulting client uses less than 70% of recommended best practices then blames vendor for poor outcome) to the truly bizarre (trophy grizzly bear in attack posture greeting visitors in reception).

    What we can say is that, since the turn of the millennium, life in collaborative workspace has been a wild ride and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

    This train is leaving the station so climb aboard!

    February 10th, 2016

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    We, along with thousands, are closely observing the growth of WeWork, especially when it comes to the sheer size of each location they are adding or expanding upon. So many will either feel threatened (Regus) or will see opportunity to compete. There will also continue to be fallout from an uptick in location saturation and not all coworking spaces will survive.

    And, not unlike other observers close to the industry, we do not attribute WeWork’s model to the pure coworking form as it debuted earlier this decade.

    It seems a no-brainer to want to see this as the next easy-money real estate play and get in yourself.

    So what’s left to say?

    A bit more.

    We both appreciate WeWork increasing awareness and share some cautionary notes to those considering jumping into the now-increasing pool of new entrants:

    1- we’re delighted that our consultancy is becoming an “overnight success” after 15 years based on the increased market awareness of coworking and the desire to open spaces that are financially sustainable (we share the “how it works”)

    2-caution that, due to low barriers of entry, it seems easy to simply open a space, charge 3-4 times the rent being paid (or an equivalent of debt service) and believe it will magically succeed (there is a lot more to it)

    3-the “secret sauce” of this model, similar to all hospitality businesses, is a combination of the negotiation of strong lease terms AND the team that is hired to manage the community

    4-coworking or collaborative workspaces do NOT have to take down 40,000 SF+ spaces to be successful

    5-it’s important to take advantage of the NO COST TO YOU services of a Real Estate Tenant Representative in finding your space, whether to lease or buy (see #3)

    Lastly, consider hiring a professional team to support your efforts, including your attorney, accountant and of, course us, as in YES!, to allow you time to sort through the potential pitfalls even before getting this off the ground.

    hire.professional

    February 10th, 2016

    Posted In: Blog, Coworking, Office Business Centers, Real Estate, Small Business, Workspace

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