My business sells office and coworking space online to startups and SMEs. I'd like to know what else I can do besides just selling space as the middleman. What additional value can I add?
Great that you have some traction in this marketplace. Now you’re looking to grow.
Your best resources for determining where expansion makes sense are your current customers. They know you, know what you offer and hopefully have a level of comfort with your business.
So reach out and:
* conduct a brief (3-5 question) survey on their needs outside of office/desk space
* talk to your best clients personally to discuss their office-related challenges
* meanwhile, are you doing everything you can do to build up your client base?
Lastly, given the knowledge you’ve built up around the office/coworking space, perhaps it’s time to explore acquiring your own property to run.
If you wish to discuss, send me a PM through Clarity for 15 free minutes.
You can sell advice/consulting packages to start-ups/SMEs on best practices (choosing the correct space, negotiation, what type of leases, issues to watch out for, when to look for more space, etc). You can also sell consulting to owners who want to get into the co-worker space on best practices from their side, and how to attract start-ups/SMEs
A few quick ideas:
- Can you rent the furniture equipment (lease it on a monthly basis), for startups that don't want to pay the high up front cost?
- Can you offer a peer to peer listing service for other startups to sell their unwanted space or furniture to each other and you manage it?
- Can you add an option for individuals to book day rates to work from an office instead of coffee shops?
- Can you innovate on the actual financial model of the "selling of space", i.e. make a no down payment, have weekly payments instead of monthly for cash strapped companies?
- Can you rent our space in unorthodox places like bars, night clubs, and night restaurants that can pop up for day time work space from 8am-5pm?
Just a few quick ideas, would be helpful to know what your business is!
Office for rental for the income profit buy more offices to charge for rental
Wow... my brain almost exploded with ideas.
Tip: Visit every Co-Work office site you can find + look at how they monetize their businesses with multiple streams of income.
If you get stumped just start booking calls with Clarity folks for direction.
When you find a person you work well with, hire them as a monetization strategist to help you optimize your money flow.
Your core value is marrying the buyers and sellers, what is your core value to moving out of the middleman marketplace?
If you can define the core value(s) well, you can consider diversifying to serve the same customer with a different range of products/ services (e.g. furniture, startup program ..) but are you doing it or still a middleman?
I think a good piece advise suppress millions, hope it helps.
Fascinating question! And how exciting to be thinking of how you'd like to grow. My first question back to you is, rather than being "more than just a middleman," would you be willing to consider deeply refining and profiting from your role as a middleman? Not "more than," but "more of." As you already know, running a brokerage is a marvelous perspective from which to learn both sides of a marketplace. My experience of broker-modeled businesses comes from watching my father and grandfather grow their brokerage and also from my experience of supporting chambers of commerce by managing their member publications. I saw those businesses flourish from doubling down on their brokerage model, rather than seeing it as a less-than position that somehow needs to be grown beyond. For example, in my family business, we got to know both the supplier and the customer by vending hardwood lumber from sawmills to builders. We deepened those relationships by listening to the builders' needs and helping them refine what they ideally wanted from a sawmill. Then we worked with the sawmills to customize their basic products to increase sales (through us!) to the builders. My mentor in the publishing business used to say, "If you want to make money, be there when the money changes hands." In that business, we got to know our customers by selling advertising in their publications; as we listened to both the chambers on one side and the ad-buyers/members on the other, we learned what they would ideally like to get from each other. The chambers wanted stronger member relations, including publication distribution from their members, and the members wanted a wider variety of publications to advertise in, which we were only too happy to create. So the questions for you then become as much about customer relationships as about changing your business model. And the daily actions toward ideal growth have to do what how you're addressing customer relationships. What are you doing to listen to customers? What are your mechanisms for increasing dialogue, gathering customer feedback, and challenging your team to brainstorm new offerings? Above all, what are your core individual and company values and what daily actions are you taking to model and disseminate those values with your team members and customers? It would be an honor to talk with you if you'd like to discuss further.
This is a really great question.
It's not necessarily bad to be a middleman, but your intuition is correct — if you can move move downstream and directly tie into the value a customer gets, your customers are less likely to cancel/move out of your coworking space.
I'd think about this in three ways...
1) What are COMPLIMENTARY services you can offer your customers? In other words, what else do your customers need? The immediate thought for me are startups and SMEs always want more help growing their business. If you can give them a network of experts — like maybe access to a law professional 1x per week, an email marketing expert 1x per week, etc. — during physical or virtual office hours, that could be a huge benefit. Think about WeWork... it's not just about the space, it's about the benefits and network.
2) I think partnerships, in general, are highly underutilized but extremely beneficial. Think of all the local businesses in the area of your coworking spaces. Can you offer them gym discounts? Discounts to the local FedEx Kinko's for shipping and scanning? Most local businesses are desperate for customers, so the odds of getting a deal and increasing your footprint are easier than one typically thinks.
3) Ask your customers! When they signup or join, ask them what's the #1 thing they're struggling with their business. Most people are bad at telling you what they want (the great book "Ask" talks about this), but are GREAT at saying what they don't want, or their bad experiences in the past. Asking them their #1 frustration makes it easier than an answer to get their top 10. I'm not of the belief that the customer knows everything — you'll have to read between the lines sometimes and make some educated guesses — but it can help you sometimes get pointed in the right direction.
Hope this helps! If you have any follow-up questions, happy to jump on an hour call. We built an 8-figure online company by building complimentary products, so I'm familiar with how this is approached.