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Know Your Community (Part 1)

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As some of you may know, my team at SRG Cowork specializes in customized real estate data reports for coworking operators (along with a few other real estate functions). Something we have really been emphasizing with clients lately is that they need to know what data they want. This way, the information we source and organize can be actionable and impactful to their coworking operation. You would be surprised how many workspace providers work so hard to build authentic community but then have no real measureable way to understand who their community is.

Coworking Operators that know who their membership base is on a deep and sometimes even statistical level can be the most sophisticated in targeting new markets to scale into. Case and point would be one of our clients in the Southwest United States. This particular operator knew that almost 80% of their members were parents with 2-5 kids that were working from home and that lived mostly in upper-middle class uniform housing developments near good schools. Was this information helpful for developing a real estate strategy? Yes, incredibly.

After gaining this profile of the client’s members we scanned the entire region for:

  1. A new area with low commercial real estate prices but new higher end uniform residential development starting to pop up.
  2. Areas where the number of self-incorporated businesses vastly outnumbered city averages.
  3. Early signs of retail land acquisition, especially from the larger grocers/ big box essentials that families need to have nearby.
  4. City and state rankings for elementary schools and middle schools

While this information does not necessarily guarantee that your expansion sites will perform it certainly helps our clients to not only look for the perfect “home run” deal but to look for the “home run” deal with their prototypical target member base already nearby. Presumably this group will be the easiest to convert into members with minimal marketing efforts and expenditures required to get them interested in your space.

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There is a ton of data out there that can be used predictively for coworking; it is certainly not limited to this one client’s very nuanced search. But, the message is still important. If you haven’t already, start to uncover exactly who your members are and what statistical or demographic categories they belong to. Many businesses are starting to use mountains of data to make real estate decisions. The Workspace-as-a-Service Industry should be at the forefront of this movement.


About Author

Dawson Williams is the Team Lead for Swearingen Realty Group’s SRG Cowork Team that works nationally with coworking operators. His team arms clients with customized data reports and a macro understanding of coworking supply and demand characteristics to aid them on all things real estate. The SRG Cowork team does brokerage differently by letting clients openly talk with landlords/owners and by always exploring creative deal structures with clients, including joint ventures with owners.

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