June 15, 2018
4 Things to Consider When Developing Your Coworking Location Strategy
Location, location, location. When you’re scaling your coworking business, pinpointing the right location is crucial to your success. Here are four tactics to help you choose your next coworking space location.
To start, what is a location strategy—and why do you even need one? Creating a strong location strategy will enable you to secure the optimal location for your new coworking space—one that meets your business goals and maximizes potential opportunities. Defining your location strategy is also about protecting the success of your current coworking space, because a razor-sharp location strategy for your second coworking space will never put your first coworking space at risk.
1. Lock down your city of choice
If you’re evaluating a new geography to launch your next space, consider taking a structured approach that blends both qualitative and quantitative factors. We recently met the team from Cova Cowork and were impressed with the process they created in order to arrive at their decision to launch in Columbus, OH.
“At the time, all four of us were working entirely remotely, so we could go anywhere. Each of us brought a unique background and set of experiences to the table which influenced our approach.”
The Cova team started by simply writing down a list of cities they knew and liked. They then searched online for lists of the top cities in the country for millennial growth, job growth, vibrant communities, and other factors they felt were relevant. This brought them to 24 cities, ranging from the likes of Chicago to Spokane.
The next step, as they describe on their blog, was to “research the crap out of [each city].” They collected a vast amount of data on demographics, competition, city planning, small business statistics, the local real estate market, and the various social amenities offered in each location. This helped narrow the list to ten cities.
The final stages of their analysis illustrate their shift towards a more qualitative approach, making cold calls and eventually visiting four of the finalist cities, in person. Their interactions with real estate agents, government officials, coworking space owners, and other locals played a crucial role in helping them arrive at their final decision.
2. Clearly define the ideal member you want to target
To establish a successful location strategy, you need to ask yourself what kind(s) of members you are targeting, and how this might differ from your current ideal member. You’ll need to decide whether you will be focusing on:
- Your current membership base: Do you wish to expand the services you offer to your current members? Are they commuting long distances to reach your coworking space? If so, you’ll need to understand where your members live and what locations interest them.
- New members that are new to coworking: Are you aiming to target a new set of prospective members? If so, you’ll need to define your target member and ensure your strategy prioritizes the locations that will appeal to that member type. For example, if you’re targeting parents, are the locations you’re considering close to residential areas and the local schools/daycares?
- New members from competing coworking spaces: Are you confident that your services are above and beyond what your competitors are offering? If so, you’ll need to understand where the ‘hot-spots’ are for coworkers and what your key differentiators will be when going up against your competitors.
For a deeper dive on defining your target member, take a look at this article about identifying your “High-Expectation Customer” – an exercise that can have a dramatic impact on your ability to deliver value at scale.
3. Get to know your potential neighborhoods
You’ve landed on a city and on a target member; the next step is to make a shortlist of potential neighborhoods and to take the time and energy to get to know them. It’s time to put your boots on the ground and visit local store owners and consumers. Get a real feel for the area, talk to the locals and gain a strong understanding of the most celebrated aspects of the community that exists there, as well as their needs and areas for development. Ask good questions and listen – if you need a primer on how to do customer research, read the classic: Talking to Humans.
Chatting to locals will also help you to establish how strong the competition is. If you are taking on your competition, this will be important and will also help you understand how you can successfully differentiate your brand and services.
If you want your new location to acquire new members who are not currently coworking, asking local retailers and prospective clients will help you understand if there is a healthy pool of potential members for your new coworking space. This is a great time to start planting seeds for potential partnership opportunities – the most successful coworking brands offer valuable member perk programs with the best brands in their city.
Lastly, If you’re expanding to increase the options you offer to your current membership base, it’s vital at this stage to consider the distance between your current coworking space and your proposed new location as you don’t want to end up in a position where you’ll be competing against yourself!
4. Nail your brand position
Once you’ve landed your lease, there will be many things that will be top of mind for you and your team – potentially construction or renovations, furniture, and the list goes on. One thing to not leave until you’re ready to open your doors to your second location is getting down to the nitty-gritty and think about potentially refining and strengthening your brand so it appeals to your target members.
It’s important that your second location showcases everything that’s special about your first one—all of those unique little touches that keep bringing your members back whilst also reflecting the vibe of the neighborhood it’s in.
Are potential members in this area going to be attracted to your coworking space because of the location, the community aspect of your space, the interior design, or the branding? Doing some research to understand what your prospective members are attracted to will enable you to have flawless branding because you’ll understand them. You just need to take the time to get to know what they want and need and it’ll be a win-win for both sides.
Ultimately, launching a new coworking space is a big undertaking, as you know. Although a lot of what you learned during your first time around will help you, taking a thoughtful approach to your location strategy will only serve to increase your chances of a successful expansion of your brand.