At Nexudus, we usually focus on data to find explanations for what we can improve in flexible workspaces but today we wanted to take a look at what managers think, and deskmag has recently published the 2023 Global Coworking Survey. The Coworking Trend survey takes a look into expected future trends based on the feelings and opinions of managers just like you!
The survey specifically targets spaces in Europe and North America, and it's worth highlighting that when respondents were asked about the type of spaces they manage, a significant amount of answers came from people managing coworking spaces or similar.
So, let's get down to business. The spaces that participated in the Coworking Trend survey cite some of the most important challenges to be coming from the below mentioned periods. I think there are a number of things that stand out that we need to work on!
Biggest Challenge in 2023 - Attracting new members or users
The biggest challenge faced by many spaces is the struggle to attract new customers. As Deskmag points out, "there are very few industries in which customers arrive on their own". Therefore, it requires a concerted effort which is the case in any industry where demand surpasses supply. However, if you feel strongly about this issue you probably have a space located in a rural or suburban environment (or in a town of less than 100,000 people), you have a single location of less than 100 members and 500m2 or less (and you may be in North America). For spaces that possess any of the above mentioned characteristics, this issue becomes problematic for two out of three managers. However, it is worth noting that for spaces with more than 100 members or occupying an area larger than 1000m2, this challenge affects only one out of four managers.
Attracting clients in coworking is not easy because otherwise there wouldn’t be tens of thousands of lines written about it. The environment and nature of each space differ, making it a challenging task to provide effective advice in this aspect. Striking the right balance between being overly specific and too general is crucial in order to offer valuable guidance. Ironically, I think the first step you need to take is to take a step back and carefully understand what the market demands. Maybe it seems obvious to you, but it's not a bad idea to try to understand why you gain leads and above all why you lose them.
To keep up with the coworking trend, it is crucial for you to comprehend the needs of potential users of your services and gain a deep understanding of what your competition is offering (or, in the absence of direct competition, the spaces that compete with you as conventional rental offices). This will help you determine what works best for your target audience. And bad news: you're not going to be able to do this from behind your desk. I won't tell you to do mystery shopping because it makes me uncomfortable too but... do mystery shopping, unless you have a good relationship with other spaces in your area and you really are part of an ecosystem that truly works together.
Understanding the market and being aware of your competition's strategies can provide valuable insights and serve as a shortcut to success. If there is something that 80% of your potential customers believe you are missing, it's quite likely that there is indeed a missing element. This isn't a matter of ego; rather, it's a call to be practical and responsive to the needs of your customers.
Naturally, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the costs associated with potential improvements, including both the initial investment and any subsequent fixed or variable costs they may incur. If you are unable to afford these costs, this may lead to a more complex conversation since the needs of your target audience may not be aligned with what you can offer them. I remember a specific case when I identified an overlooked target audience for a small space, outside an urban core of a town with under 100,000 inhabitants. By exploring this untapped market, the space experienced significant growth and even achieved to break-even in six months. This success story underscores the importance of recognising and embracing new audience segments, leading to remarkable transformations and business growth.
Besides understanding your audience to enhance conversion rates, there are additional measures you can take to expand your reach. Online marketing and web presence are crucial, but offline efforts are equally important. Consider your target audience and go where they can be found. These locations will vary greatly depending on your specific target demographic, ranging from health food markets and traditional product venues to local chambers of commerce, business associations, maker faires or even hotels which do not have space to work. The possibilities are endless. Even something as simple as connecting with other parents at your child's school can be an opportunity to promote your space. Don't underestimate any opportunity, but please don't shove coworking down their throats because nobody likes to be hijacked in a conversation!
When conducting offline activities, it's crucial to create engaging experiences within the space. Organising events that attract people and encourage prospects to visit and personally experience the space can greatly aid in conversion and make the sales process less intrusive. If your space is located in a tourist destination, it's essential to list it on aggregator platforms that offer pay-per-use services like coworking by the hour or day passes. Even if you're not in a tourist area, it's still worth doing so as you have nothing to lose. These platforms can connect you with clients you might not be able to reach otherwise. While they charge a percentage for client referrals, they tap into a customer base that you may not get access to otherwise. I have my personal favourites, but they vary depending on the location. I suggest conducting Google searches to identify the top-ranking platforms for coworking in your area. Additionally, listing your space on these platforms can improve your website's ranking. Make sure your website is transparent, providing clear information on rates, and ensuring easy navigation and quick contact options. Responsiveness is key, so make it a priority to respond promptly to all inquiries!
We invite you to stay tuned for Part 2 of the article, where we explore the challenges of inflation, hiring, and cultivating a thriving community for your business. Don't miss out on this insightful discussion!
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