Office brokerage firms have a unique angle: the ability to offer clients almost 100% market coverage. Here's why you need to invest in broker relationships - and what you should do about it.
Insurance, mortgages, energy, investment, commercial property - every established industry has its brokerage channel. In flexible workspace circles, brokers have been around for over twenty years. Of the big players, SearchOfficeSpace was founded back in 1993, Instant and EasyOffices were created in 1999, FlexiOffices started in 2000 and officebroker.com arrived in 2001.
It's a successful market and brokers are here to stay - so it certainly pays for workspace operators to tap into the opportunity.
James Osgood of OfficeFinder recently published an insightful article on why his brokerage firm works so closely with Regus - and what Regus does to ensure OfficeFinder keeps the leads coming.
"I know that the leads we send to them will be followed up in a timely fashion," says Osgood. He points to Regus' efficient 8-minute rule, which ensures that all prospective clients are called within 8 minutes of Regus receiving OfficeFinder's enquiry. Osgood also praises Regus for not letting any leads go to waste.
As a flexible workspace operator, if you're wondering where all those business leads are going, perhaps it's time to work on your broker relationships?
Brokers have access to a phenomenal amount of leads and form a formidable part of the flexible workspace industry. They plough enormous investment into marketing to attract enquiries, and select sales professionals who work fast, have excellent people and negotiation skills and get the job done.
Chris Meredith, CEO of serviced office brokerage officebroker.com, says that the flexible workspace industry is all about people, so the best way to work more effectively with brokers is to improve one of the most obvious people factors: communication.
"Our business is all about communication," he says. "Our consultants spend most of their working day doing it. They're constantly talking to clients, finding out what they need and exploring every angle to make sure they've got it covered. That information is worth its weight in gold."
Chris says that the best tactics are the simplest ones. "It all comes down to two-way interaction, a clear understanding of what's required, and trust between parties," he says.
Of course, communication must be a two-way process. Workspace operators that have had a negative experience of brokers, or find that they don’t benefit from the service - for instance those that don't receive the correct type of leads, or leads that are not fully qualified - can use the communication process to tighten up the procedure and help to improve the value of leads they receive.
Like all brokers, Chris encourages workspace operators to keep the team informed of issues - as well as information like new availability or key selling points. Again it boils down to communication, and he recommends that workspace providers invest in their broker relationships and form a commitment to doing so.
"It doesn't matter what size business you are or how many locations you've got," says Chris, "it's about picking up the phone, reacting efficiently and making a commitment to doing it regularly. Just because we've done one good deal together doesn't mean you can sit back and forget about us. It's about regular interaction and continued investment - it's simple but when done properly, it means more happy clients and more business for workspace operators."
Ray Lindenberg of Select Office Suites says that he sees broker leads as "absolute gold", and upholds the view that workspace operators should jump on those leads as quickly as possible.
When it comes to reacting quickly to leads he says that "nothing