Regus could be called the 'Hilton' of the serviced office space industry. It's a name everyone recognizes, the default for many small businesses and large corporations wanting to rent space virtually anywhere in the world. With Regus, you know what you'll find behind its doors. High quality, secure, clean and technologically advanced suites; pretty much everything needed to move in an d be up and running instantly.
When you have over 2,000 sites and represent about 75% of the entire industry, you don't speak, you roar! Yet for all of Regus' roaring, there is a fair sized gap in the industry that needs filing.
Enter, smaller, independent centers. Enter hands-on, collaborative tenant-owner relationships. Enter unique spaces and operating arrangements. Think small town versus big city hospitality. That's the kind of gap only smaller centers can fill. But they h ave to recognize the gap before they can exploit it.
While Regus is busy being Regus, the crumbs it leaves in its wake can equate to profitable, unique and appealing alternatives to those brave enough to move out of its shadows and ta ke control.
Here are a few thoughts collected from industry experts who know the industry and the cracks in the 'I wanna be like Regus' mantra.
Who are you more likely to trust? The owner of a small business center, or a middle manager of a huge corporation? When you can reach out and touch the person holding your contract, there is a great sense of accountability, which leads to trust. 'That's our corporate policy' statements from Regus just don't cut it.
Locally owned business centers can make decisions and clear up issues on the spot. No layers of management and red tape to push through. Try asking a large operator if you can hold an impromptu party in the central lobby. If you're lucky you might get 'I'll have to get back to you on that.' From a small, local operator, you are much more likely to hear, "I know a great local caterer."
Empathy and Understanding
While Regus worked hard to get where they are today, it's a stretch for them to say, "I totally understand where you're coming from. I've been there." But small business center operators can empathize. According to Wendy Spreenberg, President of SITE Resolutions, "A message that I share when advising my clients is that there is absolute trust established with your prospective client when you can say 'we are entrepreneurs and have gone through start-up, just like you'". Rapport is a strong value add. The big guys simply can't relate.
Yes, you can charge for long distance and internet! While Regus prides itself on not charging for either, don't let your prospective tenants get fooled into thinking Regus is a sound economical choice. There is no reason why smaller independent centers can't enjoy a $1,000-$2,000 revenue stream for telecom and data services. Don't fall into the 'Regus doesn't charge so we can't' trap. Encourage those contemplating a Regus decision to 'read the fine print' in their contracts and prepare for a steady stream of hidden surcharges. At the end of the day they'll be paying a lot more for Regus.
While we're discussing why not to be like Regus, it should be noted that there is an abundance of things you can learn from studying Regus. Industry guru, Ray Lindenberg, of Winning Workspaces Hospitality Group, a true champion of the independent business center operator is also quick to point out, "Researching Regus is an absolute 'must' for any operator. I guarantee 100% that 60 minutes of on-line research on Regus is the greatest 60 minutes of understanding and enlightenment that any student, employee or operator in our industry will ever spend, and it can become the centerpiece of a winning strategy for any business center."
Now that I've helped rewrite your marketing plan for 2015, it's time to come out from the shadows and identify what's unique about your business center and count up all the great ways you are 'not like' Regus. Finally, in the words of Fred Adler, "Happiness is a positive cash Flow". Work on the areas that makes you profitable and move past the fears and doubts from your competitors.
Feel free to contact us with your questions or to learn more about how CDR-Data can help you with the right tools to allocation and control 'the true cost of your calls'.
-Kevin Young, CEO/Founder, CDR-Data