Written By: Mike Kriel, CEO of Launch Workplaces
There’s a misleading myth in the world of flexible office space. In many cases, it’s causing problems for commercial landlords. And I’m here to debunk it.
The myth is that bigger is better when it comes to flexible office space operators.
But that’s simply untrue. Bigger isn’t better. Better is better.
And in many cases, smaller and more nimble operators are going to give you better results—and a better experience.
First and foremost, let’s look at things strictly from a volume perspective.
If you’re one of 200 locations, how much attention are you going to get? Do you have the phone number of the CEO of the company if things go off the rails? Or will you be just another number on someone’s spreadsheet? Another person waiting on hold?
On the other hand, being one of ten or fifteen locations means you’re getting much more direct attention. And that’s important.
Opening a flexible office space is a massive endeavor. It’s a business. And you want to know you’re going to be well looked after.
I recently wrote an article about why your flexible office operator should be your partner through and through. And the entire premise of the article came from a real-life horror story of a commercial landlord getting stonewalled by one of the big coworking space operators.
Smaller operators offer an unparalleled level of partnership. And it’s worth its weight in gold.
For instance, at Launch, we don’t treat things like a dictatorship. We don’t come in and tell you what to do and how to do it.
Instead, we work with you and leverage your expertise within your market to decide on the best approach. We enlist local pros who are best fitted for the job rather than always going for our “preferred vendors.” Our partnerships are always mutually beneficial and we never approach them with the attitude that we know more than our clients.
Imagine if a flexible office space operator never asked for your opinion. If things didn’t go well, you’d be resentful of them for not taking any of your advice. And rightly so.
True partnership is vital.
The big players in the flexible office world are steadfastly formulaic. That’s not to say the smaller ones aren’t—they are. You need to be in this business. But the difference is in their willingness to be flexible—or lack thereof.
On one hand, it’s understandable. After all, they’ve got a formula that works and it takes a lot of the variables out of the equation.
But on the other hand, those formulas are cookie-cutter. There’s no collaboration. And sometimes those variables are the things that make the difference between a run-of-the-mill space and an extraordinary one.
For instance, tailoring the space for the market where it’s operating can help make it stand out from its local competitors.
At Launch, we try to tailor everything we do to the specific building, its owner, and its market. We don’t necessarily do turnkey solutions. They’re not always standardized. We work to customize every space we open.
Don’t get me wrong: we have a formula that works. It’s proven and it’s profitable. But we’re not just a machine with a rinse-and-repeat approach. Our spaces look similar, of course. That’s our brand. But they’re not carbon copies of one another, and that’s important.
Another byproduct of increased flexibility is cost-efficiency.
See, for the big flexible office space operators, the formula is set. So, no matter the state of your space, they’re just going to come in and turn it into their floor plan.
Small operators, on the other hand, are more inclined to work with what you’ve got. At Launch, our instinct is to work with existing floor plans as much as we can, keeping as much of your space intact as possible, rather than starting from scratch.
The result? The capital investment to open a Launch Workplace is significantly lower than the big providers. Whereas you might be looking at $150 square foot with them, we can generally get it done for between $50 and $75 per square foot.
Here’s my case in point: many commercial landlords look at the massive coworking operators and think, “how can you go wrong?” But the reality is that there are a million and one ways. People used to say that about WeWork, and look how that turned out.
All I’m saying is that your best play is to weigh the pros and cons of big versus smaller. Do your research. Figure out what works best for your specific situation.
Because partnering up with the big guys could be the best decision you ever avoid.