smplr times 010 · Protect your brand

Hey there,

How connected do you feel to your space and brand?

I embody my brand in an unapologetic way. hygge is Garrett. Garrett is hygge. Because of this i’m incredibly protective of it. This week this idea was challenged like never before.

A member who has been with me for a long time did something that not only made us look bad as hygge, but by extreme personal association made me look bad. This hit me like a ton of bricks. I was viscerally angry about it. Because of how protective I am of hygge I felt personally slighted. My gut feeling was this person no longer had a place at hygge.

I slept on it, hoping that with a little rest would come some clarity. I woke the next day feeling just as shitty about what had transpired. After speaking with a few trusted colleagues, and running through my termination policy for the space felt justified in remove this member. It was time.

I sat down with this member, alongside my second in command, to make sure there was a third person in the room and discussed how I was feeling and how things would be moving forward. Long story short, it did not go well. This member was mad, and that might be the understatement of the century. They left and that was the end of it.

When community is such a integral part of what you’re building, how much or how little should we feel responsible for how our members act? How hard is this going to be at scale? We’re going to be 500+ people by early 2019. Is this unreasonable? Should I be more detached from what we’re building? I have so many questions. One thing I’m 100% sure of  is being there for each other is rule #1. We’re #hyggefam.

Tell me what you think over in the Please Wash Your Mugs community. I’d love to hear how you have handled tough situations like this.

Now, on to this week’s must-read articles.

🏗️ From The Real Deal Chicago
Could Coworking Offices Save Malls
Well, no. I don’t think so, but I bet there’s a whole bunch of retail strip mall space floating around at ridiculously low rents that we should be going after. Don’t be afraid on non-traditional space. Create something compelling and people will come to you.

🌕 From The Internet
Everything Coworking Podcast
Jamie Russo does a pretty damn good job with The Everything Coworking Podcast. I’m not going to point to one particular episode. Just dig in and enjoy. She’s great.

🧠 From AllWork
Promoting Mental Health in the Workplace
I’m on a wellness kick lately. We just launched hygge cares, a program to lower the bar for physical and mental wellness for our members. It’s important and we should be doing everything we can to look out for our coworkers.

Now for a smpl update. We made it super clear who is a manager and owner of your space. When your members visit the community page the managers of your space will rise to the top. Members can also see owner/manager contact info so they can get in touch. Bonus: They’ll also have a sweet color circle around them.

That’s it. Hope you have a simple week ahead of ya.

Until next time,
– Garrett

smplr times 009 · Can we create better coworking websites, please?

Hey there,

Taking a slightly different approach this week. I’m wrapping the regular smpl update into my regular forward.

Late last week while looking for coworking spaces to visit on an upcoming trip I came across what I would consider some pretty bad websites. Bad photography, very wordy and just generally lacking in any sort of direction.

I’m concerned. Your website is likely the first thing a potential member is going to interact with associated with your brand. Before they ever pick up the phone or show up for a tour they are going to do some pretty extensive research. The same way you probably shopped for coworking software is exactly the way people are researching coworking spaces.

They Google Coworking in [insert city], and open the top 5-7 search results. As coworking gets more popular and the market gets competitive you’re going to have to stand out.

Here’s where your website comes in. It has to look good. It has to be a proper representation of not only your space, but the personality of the people within it. If you’re concerned with your site, or just don’t know give me a shout. I’d love to help. This weekend I worked to put together what I consider a beautiful one-page marketing website for a coworking space. You can view it here.

Simple, clean and optimized for conversion. For $35/month we will build, host and maintain your site. Our template. Your domain, photos and personality. Simple.

If you have the means and/or skills to do this work yourself, here’s a couple quick thoughts/action items for this.

  1. Photos. High quality photos of not only your space but people in your space, working. People are looking for themselves in the space. Show diversity.
  2. Personality. We’re pretty clear about who hygge is from our website. We’re a little weird. We love our #hyggefam. We’re not a niche space and want everyone.
  3. Clear navigation. Get people to the end point as fast as possible. For us, we offer membership, a podcast studio and meeting space. Get people to the info they want and then the contact form as fast as possible.
  4. Bonus: Centered text for large paragraphs are the worst thing in the world and are very hard to read. Stop doing it. They also make smpl’s cofounder Mike die a little inside.

These are just some quick thoughts but it’ll help. Get on that. If you haven’t the slightest clue where to start then let us build/host the site for you. Let’s talk.

Now, on to this week’s must-read articles.

👪 From AllWork on Community
Is Community Enough When Marketing Your Coworking Space
Since that Fast Company article on the big players all saying the same about community slightly different everyone has an opinion. I like this approach. There’s likely a couple amenities that should be leveraged to market your space. Start there. Community will come later.

🤔 From AllWork on Bond Collective
How Bond Collective Pivoted to Success
We’re talking a lot about marketing yourselves and standing out lately. Bond has done a pretty darn good job of standing out in an ever increasingly crowded market. A worthwhile read.

💬 From Cat Johnsons Blog
Coworking vs Workspace: What’s the difference?
A video made from the latest GCUC UK asking several operators about space. What do you think?

That’s it. Hope you have a simple week ahead of ya.

Until next time,
– Garrett

smplr times 008: Always make a big deal

Hey there,

As a coworking space, there may only be a few times when you can get your city or the local news to give you any attention. Grand opening, expanding locations and maybe, if you land a high profile member. That’s it, right?

The rest of the time it’s up to you to leverage your own influence, your members, friends and family to create buzz for the work you’re doing. We learned this the hard way for the 2nd location announcement. We didn’t do the leg work to generate interest during the already difficult holiday season for interest. We dropped the ball.

This coming Friday we are announcing what’s next for hygge, and we are making it a big deal. We’re not going to make the same past mistakes. Instead of relying solely on local news we’re getting every single advocate we have involved. We’re simply asking for their support and participation and people will show you for you. It’s heartwarming.

I’m excited for it to all play out so I can share exactly what we did and how it worked out.

So with all that said, what did y’all do to get some buzz pre-open, expanding locations or for some other announcement?

Now, on to this week’s must-read articles.

🙌 From Shareable on Impacting Local Communities
These 6 groups are showing how coworking spaces can positively impact local communities
The work you do to be more integrated into your city can be a turning point for your space. Necessary? No, but advocacy is what we’re all looking for and the best way to get some is to do some good. Go find ways to make an impact and run hard at it.

🧠 From AllWork on Competitive Markets
Industry experts share experiences on how to grow in a competitive market
I’m a big fan of #1 on the list. Stay in your lane. It’s always easier to do what’s trendy. They reference ping pong tables, beer, etc. You know what’s best and playing that out will be better in the long run. Don’t be reactionary.

🥘 Cool Concept/Space Alert
Pilotworks, a coworking space for starting a food business
I come across all sorts of spaces and wanted to start sharing them with you. This is a cool unique concept centered around lowering the bar for people starting a food business. Love it.

Remember, being a part of smpl gives you access to a community of coworking operators that believe in supporting each other. Enter Please Wash Your Mugs.


Now for your smpl update. Over the last week we’ve released the new member welcome screen and messaging controls, manager access and all new snacks. Yes, snacks, those things that pop up when you hit save. They new. We love them.

Alongside that we’re working on new resource booking features. Next up is restrictions based on member plan. See below. All plans will have a base hourly restriction for booking resources that you can set. You can them manually edit a members hourly restriction. Huge! We’re pumped.

That’s it. As always, an exciting week ahead.

Until next time,
– Garrett

smplr times 007: A response to feeling lonely

Hey there,

A couple weeks back I talked about feeling pretty lonely as a space operator. I’m an extrovert at heart and I’ve been fortunate to have made friends in the industry. From speaking with many of you, it seems like this is something you are looking for and have yet to find – a community of supportive coworking operators.

In response to this we’re excited to announce Please Wash Your Mugs, a community for coworking operators. This will consist of three main pillars to start:

  • A Slack Community. A digital space for coworking owners, operators and community managers. No dead air, no service providers (not even smpl). This is a place where questions get answered, we promise. We’re building a community that shows up for each other. We’re committed to keeping this active and healthy.
  • Mentor Time. Need 15 minutes to talk through an issue, or to bounce a cool new idea off of someone? Let’s hop on appear.in and talk it out. Interested in being a mentor? Let us know.
  • Biweekly Newsletter. A twice-a-month newsletter that’s all about giving you actionable ways to improve your space. We’ll also compile the best of the best articles and conversations from the Slack group. Never miss a thing.

This is where we’re starting and we want you to be a part of it. If you’re a paying smpl customer it doesn’t cost you a single thing. You’re in! If you use a different platform to manage your space that’s ok, we still 💙you and would love for you to be a part of this community. It’s $9/month or $94/year. Learn more about what we’re doing here and if you want in hit the Let Me In button and fill out the form.

Invites to Slack and the mentor calendar go out later this week.

Now, on to this week’s must-read articles.

👌 From AllWork
Why You Need To Embrace a Different Space as a Service Model
This concept has been on my mind a good bit lately. What if we could help landlords optimize their space and revenue by creating smaller shared workspaces for their bigger tenants? Food for thought. Good read.

📎 From Wash Your Mugs on membership guidelines
Example Membership Guidelines Template
Bringing this post back around as I have been asked several times lately about membership guidelines and where to start. This is hygge’s base membership guidelines. Take all of it, some of it or none of it. What do you use for your guidelines?

👪 From The Coworking Google Group
117 Spaces announced and/or opened in July
Whoa, this is huge. Lots of big players mixed in there but this is a ton of growth. As we get ready to build a community of operators that support one another you should see this as encouraging. More operators = more people to pull into the community and support.


Now for your smpl update. You leveled up big over the last couple weeks. Resource booking is in the world. You can now added managers to your space. The ability to update a member’s location is in.

What’s next? We’re reading the ability to customize the welcome messaging. See below. New members are treated to a nicer welcome screen with a message that you can customize. This same message will also appear in their welcome email. Releasing soon! 🎉

That’s it. As always, an exciting week ahead.

Until next time,
Garrett

smplr times 003: Change is good

Hey there,

If you look back at grand opening photos of hygge, the coworking space we run, it is nearly unrecognizable. Over the last 2 1/2 years we have evolved the space to fit the changing needs of our community. On day one we opened with 8 dedicated desks available. For months we could not get a single person to take one of those desks. We removed them.

Now, years later we’re doubling down on dedicated due to the demand. Less than 3 hours ago I was building new sit/standing desks and transforming the once dedicated, now flex membership space back into a dedicated desk area. More than half are committed and we’re confident in filling the rest over the next couple weeks. At $250 per desk, this is a significant bump in monthly revenue.

What’s the catch? Coworking is not a set it and forget it type of business. Watch how people use it. Don’t be afraid to bend what you’re used to, especially if the demand is there. If someone needs a desk for a monitor and are willing to pay, we try our hardest to find a place to put them. It’s good business and they’ll be forever grateful for the accommodation.

Now, here’s a couple must read articles for the week.

📝 From Please Wash Your Mugs, a blog by me, Garrett
Should I offer free coworking days?
Yes, you should but on any day the potential member wants. Don’t create events around coworking. You run the risk of creating an adverse environment and failing to deliver on what actual coworking is like. Read our story.

👮‍♂️ From Allwork, a blog dedicated to flexible working
How To Protect Your Pricing With a Map Policy
I recently discovered my 3 locations listed on coworker.com. I never created these listings, added any of the photos or pricing info. If you’re big into leveraging the reseller market for your space then this is a must-read.

🤯 From the Sage journals
Augmented space planning: Using procedural generation to automate desk layouts
Holy crap this is some super nerdy way into creating space stuff but I had to share. A post from WeWork about their procedurally generated desk layouts for any office shape and size. For us we drop desks in a space and move them 23 times before it’s perfect, and then it’s still not. Nerds.

🛍️ From Retail Dive, a retail news site
Is Co-working The Next Hot Retail Concept
Whether you’re a big space or a small town indie space you should be keeping up with the trends in coworking. I’m always looking for new ways to leverage each location. Food for thought as your grow.

Also, it’s coworking, not co-working.


Now for your smpl update. While we’re putting the finish touches on the resource booking feature I thought I’d share a peek behind the dev curtain real quick. While building new features we’re constantly on the lookout for bugs. 🐛

This past week was one of the more comical ones. A new hygge coworking member was signing up and came across the Intern add-on. $99/month and we’ll sell you an intern, or at least that’s how he took it. We created this to add to a couple people who were going to have summer interns and wanted to pay using the same card. Turns out the hidden add-on feature wasn’t working. A quick fix and boom, we’re no longer selling interns. 😅

That’s it. Big week ahead. Hope y’all are excited for what’s to come.

Until next time,
Garrett

smplr times 002: Everything is on 🔥

Hey there,

You’re gonna have moments where everything feels on 🔥. I promise. Literally as I’m typing this 2 of our 3 locations are nearly inoperable. One is having water repairs done, which means no bathrooms, coffee, sinks, anything for the first half of the day. Another just lost power because of an accident in the area. No door access, internet, HVAC. The thing your members are paying for… yup, they can’t use it.

So what happened? We communicated the issues using our hygge slack channel and posted updates as we had them. In the end, the ⚡ came back on, the 🚪 opened, the the ☕ started flowing. Oh, and not a single 😡 in over 250 people.

Remember, you’re building a community, it’s a shared space and there’s likely 23 variables that could be introduced on a daily basis that’ll mess something up. If you’ve made it clear you know there’s an issue and you’re working like a mad person to fix it you’ll be fine. If someone doesn’t understand I’d question if they are a good fit for what you’re trying to build.

Now let’s take a look at this weeks top articles.

📸 From Please Wash Your Mugs. A blog by me!
Marketing Your Coworking Space Instagram – Part 1
I went down a rabbit hole creating this article and had to cut it off. It’s going to be 3 parts when it’s all said and done. IMO, Instagram is the most important social media platform for coworking spaces. These are my experiences. I hope they are helpful.

🙋🏻‍♀️ Meet Jenny Poon of Co+Hoots. From AllWork.Space
How Coworking Spaces Can Engage Local Communities
Supporting and engaging the community outside of your walls can be a struggle. Where do you start? Where do you find the time? Jenny of Co+Hoots has done an incredible job of just this. Give this a read to learn how.

👷‍♂️ We should all be thinking what if this happened to me?
Ballpark Building, Home to Thrive Coworking Sells for 8.6m
If you’re in a high growth market, like me here in Charlotte you might think about this often. What if someone bought the building and decided apartments were a better fit for our location? What if my rent sky rockets? Does my lease protect me? I share this only to make people think what if. Stay tuned for a mugs.gripe post on the topic.

⏬ Because we all need a little reminder. From AllWork.Space
Without Reinvention WeWorks Valuation Could Crumble
Too many indie spaces let WeWork bring unneeded pressure to their day to day. Most of us are very different things. While our business models are based on membership revenue, WW is building something different. Don’t let them distract you and take advantage of their marketing of the word “coworking” cause that’s actually what you do.

Has anyone read the The Coworking Handbook? I’m not endorsing it. I haven’t read it and I’m super skeptical. Send me an email to [email protected], please.

Now for your weekly smpl development update. We’re close to releasing version one of the resource booking feature. Sean and Mike are crushing the finishing touches. It looks and feels so freaking good. Soon. Stay tuned.

If there’s anything I can ever do to help don’t hesitate to send me an email to [email protected]. I’m here to help.

Until next time,
Garrett

Feature Release: VAT & GST Tax Compliance

We’re excited to announce that smpl is now international tax compliant. That means countries that require VAT or GST taxes can you now use smpl with no issue. Simply set your tax name and percentage and you’re all set. Easy.