Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Ed Blunderfield from Optix coworking software, a digital platform for coworking spaces and smart offices.
Last month I wrote an article for developing impactful KPIs for your coworking space. If you're not familiar with the process of generating meaningful KPIs, this is a great starting point. In this five-part series, I hone in on 5 of the most important growth KPIs and provide 25 actionable marketing and sales tactics you can experiment with to increase them.
In this first article, I will be focusing on the KPI “tours completed”. Now, I know you may not offer tours as part of your member acquisition strategy, or you may have multiple steps in your sales funnel that extend beyond the tour, such as free trial memberships or other experiences not captured in this article – and that’s OK. Many of the tactics I have shared are likely to be valuable for improving other KPIs you may have that are related to growth.
Ultimately, your “customer journey” is unique and it will not necessarily follow what I have presented here. With that said, let’s dive in!
If you can get a prospective member to view your space in person, they are far more likely to join your community than if you rely on a purely digital promotional experience. Additionally, if you can effectively qualify your leads, you will further increase the likelihood that the people and businesses you host for tours will sign up – they will be a better fit for the experience you offer.
There are a number of potential reasons why you might way to consider offering a trial if you aren’t already doing so. Firstly, no two coworking spaces are alike and so the tour is an opportunity for you to highlight what makes your brand unique.
Secondly, establishing a personal connection is another reason for offering a tour as part of your growth strategy. You know your community best, and meeting prospective members in person is the best way to get a sense for their “fit” with your space’s culture.
As you build out and iterate on your tour strategy, the one element that you cannot forget is to track your prospects. Keep an organized record of who has visited your space, when, and what their feedback was. Using coworking software like Optix allows you to manage all of this in one place. This will ensure that you are following up in a timely manner and responding to each prospects unique needs and desires.
Here are five tactics to help you increase the number of qualified tours you lead:
Yes, this is a broad goal and something we could talk about for days, but it’s a critical component of generating new tour bookings as well as something you should be continually investing to improve.
Many of you will have experienced team members or third party resources supporting you in increasing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts. If that’s not the case, take a look at this SEO 101 guide which will walk you through the basics. The best part about focusing on this tactic is that it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking for your team – you can achieve 80% of the value of SEO with 20% of the effort.
If you do offer tours, this needs to be clear and accessible for every single prospective member who visits your website. Learn more about how to optimize your CTAs (marketing speak for buttons) so that they stand out and people understand what the next steps are if they are interested in your coworking space.
You want to strike a healthy balance on your site, providing the most relevant information a prospect may be looking for without overloading them with information and making them click through an endless maze of pages before getting to what they’re looking for. A great test is to find people who have never visited your website and ask them to role play being a prospective member. You can learn a lot from user feedback like this.
Some people may prefer a more informal tour experience, and opt for attending an open house or event at your coworking space. I’ve seen many brands succeed by leading group tours in this context, capturing contact information, and then following up to offer a more personalized introduction afterwards. One great example is Kolektif House, who succeeded in building a thriving multi-venue brand by offering free guest visits and access to their event space.
What’s great about this approach is that prospective members get to experience your community come to life in a high-energy context. The one risk to keep in mind is that some people could mistakenly extrapolate this particularly social or uncharacteristically loud event atmosphere to the day-to-day experience of working in your space. Make sure you set expectations and clearly communicate how events operate with respect to the typical day in your coworking space.
One of the most influential drivers of someone’s decision to join a coworking space is the recommendations they receive from friends, colleagues and peers - according to Deskmag, 34% of coworking members found their space through word of mouth. Leverage this by creating a simple, rewarding referral program that offers “two-sided” value (i.e., it meaningfully rewards both your existing member and the person they refer).
For example Optix allows you to add a button directly in your members’ app so that your members can make a referral in seconds. You can experiment with different offerings, but the key here is putting a simple, accessible and rewarding system in place and reminding your members to take advantage of it.
It’s likely that a large number of your members have colleagues, clients or other peers they would like to have visit the space – be it for business or social reasons. Consider incentivizing your members to bring visitors to the space more often (within reason, of course), and make sure you or someone from your team is there to meet them.
Make guests feel welcomed and ensure that they know their way around your space, but be careful not to get in the way of whatever they came to do. If they feel comfortable and productive during their visit, a simple follow up to offer a personalized tour is that much more likely to catch their attention.
Take a look at the tactics you are currently employing to drive more tours in your space. What’s working and what’s not? Can you borrow from the ideas above to enhance or augment your efforts?
Stay tuned for the next growth KPI article in our series! It will be focused on “New Member Sign Ups” and will also include five more tactics to help grow your business and community.
Every coworking space needs to stay on top of their membership growth metric, and think strategically about not only about how many people are signing up, but who is signing up, as well.
In an increasingly competitive industry, it’s crucial for coworking leaders to get clear on their strategy and put in place good systems for measuring their company’s progress. In order to stay on top, I highly recommend making time to flesh out clear and focused KPIs that will help generate actionable insights for you and your team.
In this second part of our 5-article series about choosing and measuring the right KPIs for your coworking space, I will be discussing the KPI of “new members signed up.”
It goes without saying that your revenue is directly tied to your membership numbers. New signups drive top line growth, but also stand to impact many aspects of your existing community. Therefore, it is important to consider both the financial and cultural impacts of your growth efforts.
Using a “new members signed up” KPI, you can not only get clarity on what your target numbers are and what revenue growth figure you are pursuing, but you can also go one step further and examine any relevant characteristics of those signups. Once that’s done, you can use it to drive your member acquisition efforts.
Here are five tactics to help you increase the number of new members signed up:
One of the biggest hurdles when trying to persuade new members to sign up is to showcase the value your coworking space. You are at once educating them about the benefits of a coworking space, while positioning your brand relative to the growing number of alternatives through your key differentiators.
Offering timely discounts or promotional offers can drive sales if your prospective members are more or less on the fence about their options. You have to offer promotions that make sense for your business, though. You don’t want to attract new business at the risk of endangering operating profits due to unrealistic discounts. You also risk devaluing your offering, so it’s important to be thoughtful in how you present these financial incentives.
One other consideration is the operational impact of straying from your core membership pricing in order to attract new members. Staying organized and managing these plan “adjustments” without error is essential. Make sure you have a flexible coworking management software like Optix so you don’t drop the ball!
In the coworking business, you have to remember that the strength of your brand lies in the strength of your community. If you can have a hand in curating your community to keep a consistent focus on the member experience, then you might want to get more personally involved in who you are attracting into your space.
During the tour, you can learn about your prospective member’s individual or business needs and explain to them firsthand why working out of your coworking space can be valuable for them. You would also be able to highlight existing community members who might be a valuable addition in their network and in turn foster a culture of collaboration amongst your members.
3. Offer a Free Trial Experience
Give your prospects a taste of the experience you have created. Letting them discover firsthand what value your coworking space brings to them can help accelerate their decision-making process.
Using a coworking software like Optix, you can set up “one-off” plans for your would-be members that would grant them access to your facilities for a certain time period. You can then customize the features or amenities you would like to make available to them and for how long.
Offering them a tangible, working experience of what you have on offer and what sort of technological support you can provide for their workspace needs would go a long way in translating your value proposition. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
It may not be possible to showcase the full breadth of your community and their value in one tour around your coworking space or even during your member’s trial period. Instead, it might be possible to showcase that through your digital platforms.
You can encourage your prospective member to engage with your community on digital platforms such as your business’ social media profiles or through your personalized community feed on your coworking space software.
Granting your prospects access to your space’s digital social portal invites your members to engage with your community and more importantly to get a sense of what’s happening or what has happened in the past. Giving them several reference points of your unique culture will give them a more complete introduction to your brand.
Finally, you will want to keep track of your prospects using a good CRM tool so that you can stay organized, retain information collected from all touch-points with your prospects and then follow up with them at the right cadence.
The right CRM tool will help you consolidate your prospective members’ journey and drive your new member numbers.
Take a look at the tactics you are currently employing to drive more new member signups in your space. What’s working and what’s not? Can you borrow from the ideas above to enhance or augment your efforts?
Stay tuned for the next growth KPI article in our series! It will be focused on “Member Churn” and will also include five more tactics to help grow your business and community.
In my previous post about the “New Member Signups” KPI, I talked about a handful of tactics to drive growth in terms of the number of members in your community. Of course, this growth is threatened when members leave your community - we call this “churn”. To avoid create a “revolving door” in your coworking community, where you’re constantly looking to replace members who have left your space, let’s take a look at ways to reduce churn by putting a strategic focus on the member experience.
Successful coworking spaces are those that empower their members with a collaborative and supportive work environment and community. If you cannot communicate and help members experience the value of your community, then your members are more likely to leave your space for the increasing number of alternatives that are becoming available.
It’s crucial to adapt to your members’ changing needs, as well. What you discover to be a unique differentiator or valued aspect of your offering early on may not always last. Therefore, you must constantly invest in your business so that you are exceeding customer expectations.
Thus, ‘member churn’ is a useful KPI because it will not only indicate the impediments to meeting your sales or revenue targets, but it can also open up the door for you to examine and study the shortcomings that led to the departure of members. You will then be able to create a plan to reduce churn and drive positive results for your bottom-line.
Here are five tactics to help you manage your churn and reduce the number of members that leave your space:
Nowadays, corporations are looking ways to break down silos in order to have more teams and team members working together. As a coworking space, you should pursue the same tactic of breaking down silos amongst your disparate members and encourage them to collaborate and work together.
If you devote time to finding and facilitating introductions between two or more like-minded members, then your members’ network will be more enriched as a result. Following this path, your coworking space will quickly become a more collaborative environment, and a resource for individuals and organizations looking to make meaningful connections. If you can bring together people that have complementary skills or ideas then you will start to play a crucial role in shaping the future of their businesses.
One of our partners, 1880 Bardo of Singapore, built their coworking space with the aim to facilitate the growth of people’s tribes. As like-minded people are prone to band together, the coworking space “hopes to bring together potential disruptors under one roof and get them to join each other’s world-changing tribes, one meaningful conversation at a time.”
Planning your events calendar with your members’ interests in mind is a great way to create opportunities for them to continually invest in your coworking community in a mutually rewarding way.
For example, let’s say you find out that some of your members are looking to secure a round of funding. Knowing this, you could create an event focused on “securing funding as a startup” or host a workshop with notable VCs and other pertinent industry stakeholders.
Uncovering these member interests and needs requires you to have your finger on the pulse at all times, actively engaging in conversations and observing your members and their company activity on a regular basis.
A good way to keep your eyes and ears open to what’s happening at your coworking space is to survey your members. You can design member surveys to pinpoint a specific problem or concern at your coworking space, as well as to get insight into their aspirations and wishes.
You can then publish the takeaways of the survey and follow-up with your members to communicate how you plan to address their identified problems. This will be a great way to show your community that you are ready to take action and adapt to the their wants and needs directly.
With all of the different moving pieces involved in running your space, it can be hard to find as much time as you would like to interface directly with your members. This is a crucial aspect to cultivating a thriving business, so look to make time instead of hoping you will somehow find that time.
Make sure you have a good coworking software in place that simplifies your operations and core workflows so you can put as much as possible on autopilot. Most importantly, schedule time in your calendar to tour your own space, take your members out for coffee or lunch, and really listen to them.
Asking good questions is an art, but something we can all improve on. Through better questions we stand to get better answers to our questions and true insights into our business and how we can make progress.
Create a culture that encourages feedback and then provide a simple process for members to share their thoughts. In our platform, Optix, we have issue reporting and feedback built right into the mobile app. With this approach, coworking managers see more opportunities to jump in and save the day for their members, and avoid letting issues snowball and become a persistent problem.
This will lead to more transparent and open communication with your members, giving them a chance to be involved in your decision-making process.
Take a look at the tactics you are currently employing to reduce member churn in your space. What’s working and what’s not? What can you do today that might help reduce member churn by making your community feel more involved in the evolution of your brand?
Stay tuned for the next growth KPI article in our series! It will be focused on “Revenue per Member” and will also include five more tactics to help grow your business and community.
When thinking about growth strategies for a coworking space, it’s common to focus all of our energy on attracting new members; however, it is possible to grow revenue by better serving, and creating more value, for existing customers. Business revenue can be boosted if more money is generated out of the same number of customers. This brings me to my next KPI: Average revenue per member.
Focusing on enhancing the experience and providing greater value for your existing customers not only offers direct revenue growth opportunities, but it also requires you to better understand your existing customers’ needs and sharpen your customer-service skills. This will pay dividends in all aspects of running your business.
Sometimes, ambitions to scale a coworking business can draw operators too far outside of their current operations and cause them to forget the people they’ve already won over. Working to increase the average revenue generated per member forces a coworking brand to hone its value proposition, provide a better experience to current members, and then thoughtfully translate all of this to attract new members.
Using this KPI, you will be able to identify areas of improvement in your existing offering, helping you to better understand what your customers want out of your coworking space.
Here are four tactics to help you increase your revenue per member:
If you find that members of your coworking space belong to a particular enterprise, then you can offer the said enterprise special rates and amenities (such as designated office spaces with privacy and customized pricing). As more and more enterprises choose to send their employees to work out of coworking spaces, coworking businesses in turn are adapting to accommodate these enterprises.
Enterprises are great sources of steady revenue and offering them a tailored experience, within your coworking space, is a great way to boost your revenue. Check out this article our team recently wrote about using strategic partnerships as a source of funding for growth.
Although your coworking space is likely to experience the traditional ‘9-5’ as it’s busiest periods in the day, there are opportunities to drive traffic outside of that window. Take advantage of the fact that your business model is built around flexibility and innovation, something that most traditional office spaces cannot offer.
You can offer special discounted rates for “off-peak” hours so that you can optimize your space’s utilization throughout the day. Some members that may be using alternative workspaces in order to compensate for a busy 9-5 window in your space may see this as a great opportunity to upgrade to your full-time plan as the space becomes increasingly supportive of their needs.
After engaging with your customers to find out what additional amenities or experiences they would like, you can build out your membership plans with new add-ons.
Consider offering add-ons or setting up membership tiers—with the more expensive memberships carrying more features. You should be mindful that these additional features are enhancements to your core product, and you must have a solid core offering before diverting your attention to adding on extra features. If the foundation is shaky, everything you build on top of it is at risk.
A fantastic way to help introduce new people to your community is through a social membership. Although these individuals are not committing to a dedicated desk, office or even a drop-in plan, yet, they are engaged and want to be a part of the community. This might mean access to events, or even a discount on any ad-hoc space bookings or day passes they purchase.
By providing them with a low-commitment option, you not only create a revenue opportunity, but more importantly you begin a relationship where you can constantly provide exposure to your coworking brand, the community, and the various ways the prospective member could get involved. Over time, many of these “social members” will upgrade to larger plans and become more significant contributors to the community.
Take a look at the tactics you're currently employing to increase the revenue per member in your space. What’s working and what’s not? What can you do today that might help drive this particular KPI?
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of listening to and learning from your members’ feedback. The people who use your services are willing to share their opinions—it's up to you to create an engaging and intuitive channel to generate insights.
Understanding your coworking members’ experience is an invaluable skill in today’s competitive business environment. By interpreting feedback and effectively tailoring your offering, you can help make your clients happier, and grow your revenue.
Giff Constable, the co-author of Talking to Humans, stresses the importance of not only finding the right people to talk to when looking to improve, but also asking the right questions, and knowing what to do with the answers.
The following is a guide to help you gather feedback from your members using a coworking-specific feedback survey.
Being thoughtful about when you survey your members can have a dramatic impact on the data you capture. Take, for example, the hospitality industry. Hotels are trying to find the right balance between surveying customers and bothering them, hence why many of them send out shorter, mobile-friendly surveys immediately after a customer checks out. Using basic software, they can automate follow-up emails for those guests who don’t complete the survey after the first email they receive.
Consider the amount of time a given member has spent in your workspace. We recommend asking for this through a question in your member survey, and following up with a tailored set of questions. For example, for members who recently joined, you can specifically inquire about their onboarding experience.
Once you finalize your questions, you’ll need to focus on designing the questionnaire form itself. We recommend using Typeform, a survey tool used by many of our coworking clients to engage with their members. Survey respondents are known to engage with this well-designed tool more readily because it asks one question at a time through an intuitive interface (bonus—it’s also mobile-friendly)!
After completing the design of your online form, send it out to your relevant members through email and/or by publishing it on your social media channels. In order to protect the integrity of the data and ensure you are only collecting data from the members that you are targeting, you could publish it on a private, member-only portal such as the community feed of an Optix-powered mobile app.
The Optix app allows you to publish these surveys directly on your feed and then send push notifications to all members to increase the response rate.
Next comes the most crucial part of this process: Data analysis. In order to complete this step, begin by defining your survey’s KPIs.
One important survey metric is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This score is gathered by asking the question, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this coworking space to others?” This is a powerful question because it gauges a customer’s overall sentiment toward your service. NPS can also indicate customer loyalty and since they are easy to understand and benchmark, they appear in most questionnaires.
However, the score doesn’t have the in-depth or actionable information that can be gleaned out of open-ended questions. It can also be a very subjective indicator; thus, it’s a good idea to ask a multitude of questions and define a few metrics to align with your overall survey objective.
Immediately following the conclusion of your survey, send out a note of gratitude to your members for their participation. Meanwhile, prepare to communicate the insights gathered from your survey back to your members and jot down how you intend to implement the feedback or the issues that were brought to light.
You can choose to install shorter programs or initiatives during this “feedback implementation process” or spur transformative cross-company action if your results indicate the need for greater change. If you come across particularly critical findings, immediately offer support to help rectify the issue at hand, while you work toward providing a long-term solution.
Some of the most successful brands have made a habit of being curious about their customers. They make sure to regularly check back with their customers and reinvent their service offering. It’s best practice to build out a timeline for subsequent feedback surveys, such as on a quarterly or half-yearly basis.
As a coworking space, forging deeper connections with your members is crucial to your success. If you can keep talking to your members then you can continue to deliver value to them and in turn build a truly successful business.
One of the best parts of my job is visiting coworking spaces around the world and learning about their approach to building a successful coworking brand. Last month, I was in Seattle (you can read more about that trip here) and I saw firsthand the power of setting strategic key performance indicators (KPIs).
The most successful spaces I visited had clear, focused KPIs that were directly linked to the organization’s strategic priorities. Their entire team was aligned on the importance of these metrics and they had established a regular practice around analyzing their data, distilling insights, and implementing changes.
When it comes to KPIs, you get out what you put in. KPIs start to become deeply impactful when you and your team are measuring the right things, analyzing the data with intention and effectively translating your insights into action. In this article, I will outline seven key steps to achieving success with KPIs.
To avoid creating an overwhelming list of generic coworking KPIs, get focused (and aligned within your team) on what you are seeking to achieve and how you plan to get there. With a clear vision and strategy, you have a solid starting point for developing meaningful indicators that you can measure with confidence.
Involve your team in this process and look for ways to simplify your strategy. This will force you to drill into what is most important and what you hypothesize will be the most influential drivers to achieving results.
The hypotheses you’re uncovering in this process are going to be directly tied to your company’s KPIs, and provide useful context for setting goals. This step is essential to ensure your focus is razor sharp and you’re measuring things that are immediately relevant.
As an example, if a pillar of your strategy is to become the coworking space of choice in your city for designers and creative professionals, you may hypothesize that increasing the frequency of touch points between that ideal customer and your brand will increase the number of tours booked.
There are going to be a lot of possible hypotheses. Pressure test them as a team, make sure they are meaningful and relevant, and then prioritize them. After you have identified these you will be able to evaluate each KPI you create and ensure they are supporting your strategy.
What data do you need to be collecting in order to get clear answers to your hypotheses? There is the ideal dataset, and then there is the current reality that you’re tracking now - you’re not alone if you find yourself in a position where many crucial data points have not been collected historically.
Whatever your current situation is, you can plan for the future and begin tracking what you need today. This will likely require some iteration, but do your best to ask yourself if collecting this data will allow you to respond to the hypotheses you have uncovered. You also don’t have to start measuring everything at once – try introducing one new data point per month to start measuring to help make it more manageable.
Using our previous example, potential data points could be: the number of design-focused events your team has been involved with, impressions from targeted digital advertising campaigns (e.g., Google or Facebook), or other measurable efforts related to marketing.
This is where we begin to shift from ideas to action. It’s one thing to thoughtfully craft your list of context-specific KPIs, and an entirely other feat to turn them into practical tasks in your coworking space.
Determining how all of this data is going to get captured, what tools will be used, who is responsible for each KPI, and how often that information is reviewed, are all crucial to success.
Make sure you’ve assigned an owner to each KPI to ensure nothing is missed and to help create a sense of ownership and engagement around the entire process. This will often lead to opportunities for improvement, as each team member begins working more closely with their respective indicators and begins to uncover challenges and opportunities to tweak or re-frame the approach.
When it comes to timing, the most important thing to avoid is ‘stale data’. This happens when you collect a certain data point and then report on it too late for the data to be accurate, relevant or otherwise useful. The ‘expiry date’ on your data is going to depend on which metric you are looking at but, as a general rule, do your best to shorten the time between data collection and data analysis.
By this point in the process your team members who own KPIs will be fully aligned, but anyone who is outside of this process needs to be brought up to speed.
Everyone needs to be clear on how their efforts are linked to the company’s overall strategic priorities. This increases buy-in, provides motivation, and creates efficiencies through focusing on the right things. Each team member needs to examine and answer the question, “How does what I am doing today affect these KPIs?”
Invite questions, feedback and observations, and then commit to running with your freshly minted coworking KPIs for the next month.
You’ve come so far in the process, now it’s time to work with the raw data you’ve collected and draw out insights to improve your business. Carve out time, create some headspace, and dig into the numbers. Look at the data from different angles, and return to your core hypotheses and strategy to see what answers you can start to uncover.
It’s always fruitful to spend some time analysing on your own, and then coming together as a team to avoid the traps of groupthink too early on. You’re likely to see different things in the data and ultimately establish a more nuanced understanding of how your business is performing and what you can do about it.
Try to explain your insights to others as simply as possible, and begin to think about how this wisdom can be translated into action.
After all of this hard work, you now get to enjoy the process of refining your operations and improving your business. Some of the indicators you are tracking may prove to be less useful than you originally thought. That’s fine, and this is a good opportunity for you to reevaluate and tweak them. The best thing to do here is to avoid tracking data for the sake of ticking off boxes.
Many of your KPIs are going to provide clear opportunities for improvements, however, and it’s up to you and your team to create the relevant tasks, complete them, and then observe the results the next time around. This can be an iterative process where you check-in with your team every few months to ensure your efforts on collecting and tracking your KPIs is adding value to your business and helping your team hit their milestones and goals.
KPIs can be a profoundly valuable tool for improving the performance of your coworking business and achieving strategically-aligned growth objectives. I hope that by borrowing from the approach I have illustrated here, you can develop a more thoughtful, strategic and measured approach to creating impactful coworking KPIs for your business. As always, I’d love to hear from you if you have feedback, questions or want to share an inside scoop on your approach to growth!