Whether you run a coworking space by yourself or operate numerous workspace locations, having a pro operational strategy is essential.
Small efficiencies and automation compound to create an environment where community managers can focus on creating a great workspace experience for members—not problem-solving operational issues all day.
In order to run a successful space, you have to have the tech, IT and behind-the-scenes infrastructure running efficiently. Here are nine operational tips to help you run your shared workspace like a pro.
1. Empower Members to Onboard Themselves
There’s no need to waste the time of new members and your community manager with a clunky onboarding process. Empower members to create an account, enter their own personal and billing information, choose the right product—whether a day pass, a monthly membership, or a bucket of hours—and get right to work.
As an added bonus, when members onboard themselves, you introduce them to your software from day one and get them used to making reservations, accessing invoices, updating information, etc. If your software is integrated with Kisi, an access control system, you can automatically push people’s credentials to Kisi, giving them immediate access to the space.
Note: While members should be able to onboard themselves, it’s important to have an in-person orientation and conversation with them. Beyond providing workspace, we’re building coworking communities, and it’s important to connect with new members. It’s good practice to have people read and sign your Terms of Service and Community Norms with you as part of the orientation. (Although we may not want to admit it, no one reads your T&Cs before checking the box to sign them online.) All documents should then be uploaded into your management software so they can be accessed from anywhere — and never lost or misplaced.
2. Automate Credit Card Processing
Get as many of your members as possible on auto credit card processing or automated clearing house (ACH). You don’t want to ask people to approve a charge and process the payment themselves. It’s too easy for them not to do it, which means you don’t get your money fast enough.
It’s important that people can get an invoice ahead of time, look over it, and see if there’s anything they think is an error. But, payment should be automatic. Doing this vastly reduces bookkeeping and accounting time.
3. Automatically Track Usage
You should have an automated system to see who’s in your workspace, who’s using your conference room, who’s using your daypasses, etc. You shouldn’t be guessing how many people are in the space at one time, how many day-passers you have on any day, or who is in your meeting rooms.
4. Make Simple Tasks Easy for Your Members
Don’t make your members wait for sluggish software to load to do simple tasks, such as book a meeting room. It reflects poorly on your company and is an unnecessary frustration for members. Be sure the system you are using is easy and intuitive so you don’t have to handhold through routine processes like reservations.
5. Diversify (and Manage) Your Workspace Offerings
The goal with all automation and workspace efficiencies is to run a sustainable business. In order to be sustainable, you have to draw on as many revenue sources as make sense in your environment. In order to do that, you have to be able to easily offer a variety of services and plans that meet the needs of different kinds of people.
For instance, you may have a counselor who wants a private office by the hour to meet with clients; or you may have a team that gets together once a week in the conference room and needs a recurring plan; or you may have remote workers or telecommuters who need to work in the open space 12 days a month; and you’ll likely have a number of full-time members and teams working at dedicated desks or in offices.
You have to be able to track all of those offerings without making yourself crazy. This is accomplished by having a wifi check-in system, an automated reservation system and an automated access system, both on the front door, as well as meeting rooms, phone booths, podcast booths, etc.
6. Keep Your Equipment Simple
When setting up your workspace amenities, find an easy-to-use printer, coffee maker, shredder, phone lines, and ethernet plug-ins. These things should be dead-simple to use so that members don’t have to troubleshoot issues to do simple things like making a copy.
7. Use Network Check-in
Network check-in enables you to see who is in your space at any time, from anywhere, on any device. This is invaluable to streamlining your workspace operations and empowering for workspace operators and teams. With a network check-in system, members are automatically checked in when their wifi-enabled devices are seen on the network when they walk in the door.
8. Get on the Cloud
Space management teams are frequently dispersed. With cloud-based workspace software, you can manage many aspects of your space remotely. You can see what’s going on in your space, in terms of usage and occupancy; you can see real-time reports on revenue, accounts receivable and much more; and you have all the data you need about your workspace in a single location that you can access from anywhere in the world. Plus, your members have real-time access to their account and information.
9. Prevent Revenue Leakage
Leakage occurs when you fail to capture revenue sources in your space. If you don’t have automated usage tracking and billing, it’s very easy to give things away.
It may seem like a small thing, and often leakage involves relatively small charges, such as $10 or $30 dollars, but over the course of a month, across a large number of members, there may be thousands of dollars you’re not billing out. This could be the difference between profitability and failure of your space.
When you automate your workspace, you prevent this leakage.
You never want to nickel and dime members, but you want to give clear expectations and think about what you give away for free. Don’t do it because you can’t figure out how to track something — do it because you’re consciously including something as a business decision. For instance, tell members upfront that they get $250 per month in reservation credits. This gives value to their credits. If you just say, “Use the conference room whenever you want,” there’s an expectation that the room has no value — and will always be free. As things get busier, you may have to take this back, and that always causes ill-will.
Going back to empowering members to onboard themselves, when you do this, people are automatically entered in your system and can be billed for any services or products they use. This makes it as easy as possible to capture revenue.
Dial-in Your Operations
With ten years of experience running shared workspaces, we have operations dialed-in. We built the tools for running a profitable space right into Satellite Deskworks. Contact us to learn more.