How to Introduce Change to Your Clients

Through my business, Office Suite Strategies, I have developed, consulted, and managed workspace services industry businesses nationwide. In my 17+ years of experience, I’ve had the opportunity to lead my clients and their customers through hundreds of transitions, both major and minor. One fact that has been confirmed time and time again over my career is that change is hard. But, I have discovered some strategies that loosen some of the inevitable tension that comes with introducing customers to change and make the process smooth and manageable. In this blog post, I will share these strategies and how they can be applied in your serviced office center when there is an upcoming transition.

1. Before the Change

One of the largest contributors to unsuccessful periods of change in serviced office centers is lack of care and consideration in the implementation process. Many times, I’ve seen business owners and center managers put their new ideas into action without taking into account how that transition will affect their customers’ businesses. A large percentage of the professionals who use serviced office centers are solopreneurs, meaning they are operating their businesses by themselves and taking a considerable amount of risk in doing so. To solopreneurs, the center facility and the support provided there are crucial to their operation. So, if a change is made that doesn’t account for the solopreneur’s or any other customer’s reliance on the center as is, the results could mean heavy resistance to that change, customer attrition, and loss of revenue.
To ensure a successful period of change, you are best served by communicating with the customers who make the most use of your center’s facility and services before the decision to make the change is made. Don’t just ask, “Do you think [brief description of change] is a good idea?” This question makes it seem like you’re looking for support for a decision that you’re already in favor of. Instead ask, “We’re considering [brief description of change]. How might that affect the way you do business at our center? Are there any suggestions you have that would make the transition comfortable for how you use our center?” Have constructive conversations about how the potential change could cause problems, and invite feedback on how to avoid those problems.
Be mindful of all of the concerns and questions raised as you plan the execution and implementation of your change. And, once you’ve begun the transition, make sure to follow up with those customers that provided concerns to see if the process is going smoothly for them.

2. During the Change

Make sure that everyone is well educated on the changes coming. If your transition will be a multistage process, make sure to notify your customers of the various stages planned to calibrate their expectations. Also, don’t forget to give regular progress reports on when one stage has ended and when another stage is going to begin. Be aware that no matter how many emails you send or bulletins you post; some people are best served by a simple conversation.
If your transition involves a change to access to services, spend some time instructing your customers on how the access will work going forward. In some of my centers, we’ve changed how customers make reservations to the on-demand meeting space. I’ve developed tutorials, both written and video to make sure that the customers are clear on how to make reservations with the new system. And, if they still need support, one-on-one sessions are always provided at the customer’s request.

You can incentivize customer’s completion of the tutorials by offering a contest or quiz. One of my center managers did a tutorial on how to access the customer portal, and put together a 3 question quiz. The customers that submitted the quiz were put into a drawing for a percentage discount on their coming month’s services. By incentivizing your customers to engage with the educational materials you will find that customers feel attended to and that they can better navigate the transition.

Final Thoughts…

I hope that these tips help you get through your next period of transition at your center with little difficulty. If you are a workspace services business owner that needs help overhauling your center’s services or facility, please contact me, Karen Condi, kcondi@officesuitestrategies.com.

How To Ensure Your Serviced Office Center Makes An Impactful First Impression

The chief objective of the serviced office center is to present a professional impression to its clients and its clients’ customers. One of the elements that drives the success of Office Suite Strategies-managed business centers is dedication to making an impactful first impression with design and staff.

Designs that Shine

Office Suite Strategies works with building owners and business center owners to create a space that is modern, professional, and inviting. One of the growing elements of the serviced office center is coworking space. Coworking is working in a shared workspace while that also allows independent activity. Many office business centers either provide a space within their facility for coworking or offer coworking environments as their exclusive service. Coworking spaces have been growing in popularity over the last several years more of America’s workforce becomes freelancers and solopreneurs. It is important that coworking spaces are functional and impressive to the professionals using them. Office Suite Strategies have many years of experience creating coworking environments from design phase through construction and furnishing.

One other space that is critical to making a quality first impression is the reception area. Reception areas in serviced office centers need be welcoming while communicating a high level of prestige and professionalism. Serviced office center reception areas are not primarily waiting rooms like in other types of office environments. They are usually a part of a business lounge or touchdown space where clients are busy getting their work done. Office Suite Strategies advises serviced office center owners to avoid using their reception area as a call center. This is disruptive to the professionals who have paid to use the business lounge as a part of their package. And, when the reception area is dedicated to answering calls, the center loses the opportunity to make impactful first impressions in-person. Office Suites Strategies offers PROS, Professional Receptionist Outsourcing Services, that handles inbound calls off-site to ensure that on-site staff can be focused on providing the service and attention that makes the best first impressions.

Staff to Match

While the design of a serviced office center contributes a lot to the impressions that the center provides, center staff must also be intentional about making every experience with guests and clients at the center the best that it can be. Office Suite Strategies-managed centers run with a lean staffing model, which requires that we hire employees that have a well-rounded skill set that includes top notch communication abilities. We expect our staff to engage with clients and guests genuinely and professionally even when there are other tasks that they might be working on. Front office staff must be ready to welcome every guest and equipped with the knowledge to answer any questions about the center’s services and clients that the guests are there to meet. One of the common things that wrecks first impressions in serviced office centers is when the receptionist staff is uneducated on how to respond to guests’ questions. That is why Office Suite Strategies regularly trains center staff on the value offered by the center and how to communicate that value when called upon.

Final Thoughts…

Serviced Office Centers can make impactful first and subsequent impressions if their design and staff present the prestige and professionalism required. With nearly 17 years of experience in the workspace services industry, Office Suite Strategies ensures that the centers it manages and the center owners that it consults present top caliber impressions. If you are a serviced office center owner that would like to learn more about how to elevate the impressions that your center communicates, contact me, Karen Condi, at kcondi@officesuitestrategies.com.

How To Choose A Blog Series Topic that Draws Your Members In

In the first post in this “How To” series, I posted a video that highlighted tips that any business owner can use to stay motivated to write for their business blog. In that video, I shared that writing about subjects that align with a series topic can help keep you motivated to write. This third post in the “How To” series will focus on blog series topic selection specifically for serviced office center blogs. I’ll share tips that I’ve picked up as I’ve been consistently blogging for Office Suite Strategies. My goal is to give you a reliable system for producing successful and share-worthy blog posts that interest serviced office community clients.

1. Poll Your Members

One of the ways to make sure you’ve selected a blog series topic that will appeal to the members of your center is to ask them what they want to read about. This was proven to me back in October 2015 when I first started writing for the Office Suite Strategies blog on a regular basis. I had the opportunity to host a breakout session at the Global Workspace Association Conference in Denver Colorado. My session focused on workspace-as-a-service industry best practices. I engaged in a dialogue with my target audience and found out what topics they were most interested in. Their ideas inspired me, and I was able to gauge their responses to my own ideas on the subject. I left that session with a list of 20 or so topics that business center industry leaders were excited about. So, I started my Business Center Best Practices series based on that list. The posts in this series garnered positive responses and feedback. I earned several new followers and a few of my posts were shared by the Global Workspace Association’s social media accounts.

While you might not have access to a conference full of people wanting to share thoughts on a particular subject, you do have the ability to ignite conversation on your social media. Ask questions of your followers, friends, and connections and see what interests them the most. You can also check out their pages to see what they’ve shared most often. If you see a common (business-related) theme, then use that as a blog series topic. Do some research on what’s already been said on the topic and out if there’s anything unique you can add to the canon.

2. Feature Your Members

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” You can select a series topic that features the particular business and name of your center members. Some of my most successful content has been when I share case studies that focus on one of my clients and the success that they are seeing as a result of working with Office Suite Strategies. One of my center managers did a series where she featured video testimonials from members of the center that received a very positive response from the rest of that center’s social media audience. When specific people are featured in your writing, that person is inclined to share it to their own social media audience who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to see your branded content.

3. Help Your Members

This How To series and my Business Center Best Practices series are both driven by my desire to produce content that helps you all be serviced office center industry leaders. Even with posts that don’t fit into a specific series, my goals are to help you improve efficiency and effectiveness and to provide valuable tips that can make your businesses more lucrative. As you write for your centers’ blogs, make sure you focus on making your members’ business lives better. I encourage you to consider a series that shares specifics on ways they can use your center’s services optimally. If you’ve recently changed your operations platform, conference room scheduling system, or receptionist services, consider making one of your blog series topics instructional in nature so that they are well educated on how the system has changed or will change. Lastly, your blog series topics can also be helpful by aiming to motivate and inspire, so don’t count those particular topics out.

Final thoughts…

I hope this blog post has put you at ease about series topic selection for your serviced office center. If you are a serviced office center owner and you would like help putting together a blog for your business, please contact me, Karen Condi, kcondi@officesuitestrategies.com.

How to Interview Candidates for Business Center Manager

In an earlier post, I talked about the 3 key skill sets that successful center managers in the serviced workspace industry have.   In this post, I will detail how I have conducted interviews to practically evaluate each of those skills sets and others in the context of the serviced office center.

When I interview candidates, I like to break the role down into 5 broad areas: Sales, HR, Accounting, Technology, and Property Management.    These are the five major functions that managers in Office Suite Strategies-managed centers are responsible for.  Our centers are run with a lean staffing model so having a well-rounded skill set is extremely important.     I touched on Sales and Technology   in the post linked earlier, so I will further define the three other categories here.   The HR category includes evaluating leadership experience and abilities, as well as the fundamentals of staff management.  Having a manager that can understand a basic P&L is essential to running a successful  serviced office company.  I evaluate the candidate’s success and experience in this area under the Accounting category.  Lastly, several of the successful center managers we have found come from the property management field.  So, it is important to consider experience related to managing vendors, cleaning crews, and building maintenance as well as a strong attention to detail under the Property Management category.

My interviews begin with asking the candidate to rank these categories from one to five in terms of how much experience they have and/or their confidence in that area.  I look for candidates who rank Sales and Property Management the highest in their self-evaluation. Of course, they must also have a very good understanding of basic business skills.  Successful managers must  have the ability to effectively communicate the value of the serviced office company in order to secure the sale.  And, they must be able to have the organizational skills and an understanding of basic accounting to make sure the business as a whole is functioning optimally.  In truth, these ideal candidates are very difficult to find, but I’ve fine-tuned the Office Suite Strategies recruiting process to attract top notch individuals that run our centers today and the centers for many of our clients.

The hiring process that Office Suites Strategies conducts consists of a minimum of 4 interviews before an offer is considered.   Before we start the interview process, we thoroughly screen through resumes, ensuring anyone we talk to includes a well written cover letter.  Again, with sales skills being a priority for us, we feel that if an individual doesn’t present a cover letter when they are attempting to sell themselves, this is a major red flag.  From there, we move to a phone interview followed by face to face interview that takes place via Skype.  Next, the candidate has an in person interview with a member of the Office Suite Strategies management team.  If the candidate has been successful in all prior steps, the last interview assesses their decision making skills through a series of conflict resolution questions.   Finally,we make the selection of the best candidate for the position and move to the reference checking step.  We do not make a job offer until at least three prior work references have been checked.  Upon hire, I work with each new employee in a regimented training program that acclimates them to the serviced workspace industry, teaches them Office Suite Strategies’ proven-effective processes and procedures, and tests their understanding and effectiveness once trained.  And, training does not end at orientation.   In order to keep our managers motivated and strong, Office Suite Strategies conducts regular training sessions on a monthly basis.  They are then responsible for the same type of training (with my guidance) with their team.

I hope this post has shed some light on the interview process that Office Suite Strategies carries out in order to find the best candidates for the integral Center Manager role.  If you are considering entering the serviced workspace industry and would like assistance with staffing, please contact me, Karen Condi, kcondi@officesuitestrategies.com for a consultation.  You can also hear more about this process at the Global Coworking Unconference in Los Angles, CA in April of this year.  I will be speaking on Day one of the conference!