The flexible workspace sector is no stranger to the presence of brokers. Ever since Search Office Space (SOS) arrived on the scene in 1993, at a time when the serviced office sector was still in its infancy, the number of brokers has been rising steadily.
But as an operator, how often do you tap your agents' expertise?
Given that broker representatives work closely both with prospective clients and most of your competitors, they are a mine of information. Isn't it time to develop a deeper understanding of serviced office brokers and how they can better market your workspace?
Landmark Plc thinks so, which is why Richard Gill, Managing Director of Landmark Plc, took the time to quiz JLL's Associate Director Dan Brown about the role of brokers and agents within the serviced office sector.
The interview, which has been published in a short video, offers an interesting glimpse into the market from the perspective of an agent who has experienced multiple roles within the sector - operator, serviced office broker, and now conventional office agent.
It's less than 6 minutes long and is well worth watching:
In this video, Dan raised a number of interesting points:
How agents work:
Dan explained that a key element in their success is "speed to market", which is why agents conduct a lot of research to stay abreast of workspace availability, upcoming vacancies and new market entrants. Research and marketing consumes a significant share of the agent's commission (usually 10% or 15%), yet as Dan explains, the lion's share is taken up by time spent engaging prospective clients, which includes educating them on the market, shortlisting properties, arranging tours, and negotiating.
Asked how the flexible workspace market has evolved, Dan believes "the last five years have changed massively." He explained that the traditional serviced office model of "long corridors and blue carpets" has diversified enormously, leading to greater choice of product, location and style. Where once there was a gaping chasm between a serviced office centre and an open-plan coworking space, the two are now much more closely aligned.
According to Dan, it's extremely important for a workspace to capture the imagination of prospects during a tour of the space. Some business owners see as many as seven or eight buildings per day, so it's essential to give them "something to talk about" after they have visited, which could be a quirky meeting room, an on-site cafe or an attractive design element.
Open workspaces "not for everyone":
The question of open workspace tends to divide opinion, and Dan concedes that whilst easy collaboration is an attractive option for startups, "it's not for everyone". He has conducted numerous viewings with prospects who feel uneasy about the lack of privacy, and this is certainly a key element for corporates. Where open versus private space is concerned, it is a case of horses for courses - yet he positively believes that "there is plenty of room in the market for both".
As discussed at this year's BCA Conference, our market is continuing to strengthen, diversify and grow. Yet behind the clear opportunities, the challenge remains: How do you differentiate your product in an increasingly competitive market?
Dan's insights offer useful hints on how to capture the imagination of prospective clients, and why it's important to give touring clients "something to talk about". With this in mind, take a look at the BCA's Social Gallery for some of the hottest design trends in flexible workspace to understand how s