Office location can bring you work

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I was driving between Texas and Kansas when my phone rang. It was last spring during the nationwide lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fear was plentiful and toilet paper wasn’t.

The voice on the phone was a business owner. She ran a massage therapy business. She officed inside a retirement community and the administrators gave her a two-day notice to move out because they only wanted “essential personnel” in the retirement community.

“Is your building still for rent?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Good. When can I move in?”

I knew this lady and her husband, who is on the city council in my town. I didn’t need to do a background check or ask a lot of questions. I just needed to help her save her business. I called our real estate agent and asked her to draw up a lease and give the massage therapist a key.

Several hours later I reached Kansas and swung by the building that night. She wasn’t there but she had moved in and I was impressed she had moved so fast.

Results of the right office location

She is still in my building, paying rent and she has grown her business a great deal since I got that phone call. While the small space at the retirement community was safe and familiar, it was also limiting. She was at the whim of the managers of the retirement building. One day she was there, and the next she was moving out.

The space only allowed her to do one thing, massages. But this owner had dreams of much more. She wanted to partner with a manicurist. The tanning booth in town had closed and she wanted to offer that service.

She wondered if she offered painting and wine sessions, would people come?

Don’t wait for an emergency to force a move to a new office location. Look at where you want to go, how you can get there, and where you will be working when you are there. Quite often where you work is keeping you from working.

Today, that business owner has added all of those services. She hired a manicurist, bought a tanning bed, and recently held a wine and painting session. She was shocked that 13 people came. She is even selling a few clothes now.

When I asked her if she qualified for the second round of PPP she said her business did not. Sales are growing, not shrinking.

It was made possible because she got into a bigger space. My building is 1600 square feet, is updated and located in a busy shopping center. When that much-better space and her dreams came together, our town suddenly had new services.

When you think about your business growing into new areas, you need to look at your physical location. If it’s your kitchen table, do you need to be in an office suite? If you are in an office suite, do you need to be in a strip center?

If you are officing in your truck, do you need to be in a warehouse? Not only does a new and bigger space give you the ability to grow, it often gives your business prestige and access, not to mention efficiencies you probably don’t have now.

I don’t believe commercial real estate is doomed. Yes, it has changed but there are lots of people who realize working from home isn’t utopia. There are still businesses that require close contact with other people, like massage therapy.

We aren’t all going to be working from home. And that’s good.

Don’t wait for an emergency to force a move to a new office location. Look at where you want to go, how you can get there, and where you will be working when you are there. Quite often where you work is keeping you from working.

And hopefully it won’t take another pandemic to help you figure that out.

 

Robb Reeves is the vice president of McElvy Partners. He has owned and operated small businesses for more than 25 years, and most of his career has been focused on helping business owners define the most effective ways to reach more customers. You can tap into Robb’s experience by sending us a note on our CONTACT page.

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