Establishing a new office is by no means an easy endeavor. Whether you are expanding an existing office into a new market or starting an office from the ground up, there are many components that must come together in order to set yourself up for success. While starting a new office does not come without its challenges, there are steps everyone can take to make the process a bit less stressful. These can include finding common goals and establishing a timeline with your team. Being open to embracing the inevitable unconventionality of the process, and finding your place within the community is also key. With these in mind, you will likely be on the right path to establishing a new office. Here at SHYFT we have been busy working towards establishing an office in Phoenix, Arizona, and would like to offer some insight into what it has taken (so far) to advance in a new market.
When taking the plunge into a new market, even if you already have a reputation elsewhere, it is going to take some time and effort to gain recognition and momentum. This often requires thinking outside the box and working in unconventional ways. When seeking clients and forming relationships that can lead to partnerships, express what differentiates you from others. Know the market, and understand what exists, where there is a need, and how you might be able to fill that need. Do you offer a unique service that meets demand in the market? Is your process different from other design or construction businesses? Use these differentiators to your advantage.
Having a Presence in the Community
When it comes to making a presence within the community, consistency is key. Regularly attending events will allow people to recognize you and can potentially lead to a business relationship. Particularly in the design world, the community of people tends to be small, meaning that you will likely run into a lot of the same people if you make a habit of going to industry-related events. Even attending non-industry events can earn your company more recognition. After all, most of our clients come from other industries. Why wait for them to come to you? Making a point to be involved in the community, whatever that looks like to you and your team is an effective strategy for making yourself known and potentially getting new clients. As we like to say - “It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”
Choosing an Office Space
Choosing an office space may not seem like a significant part of establishing a new office, but it is something that can ultimately change the trajectory of the office and have lasting effects on things like the type of work you get and the clientele you work with, and the partnerships you form. Taking into consideration the different types of office spaces, how can this decision impact a new office, and in what ways?
Buying/leasing an office space
When it comes to buying or leasing an office space, what works for some may not work for others. Buying or leasing an office space can allow a new team to establish a reputation within its community. As designers, being able to add a personal touch to the space and show off your work can be very beneficial. Having your own space to hold events and have client meetings is another reason why one may opt for this option.
Leasing at a coworking space
Co-working spaces are not just catered to the individual with their own business, they are also well suited for a smaller office that is just getting up off the ground. Coworking spaces will typically offer both open office options, as well as executive suites that allow a team to have some privacy, yet still, reap the benefits of being surrounded by professionals in other industries. This typology is a great way to be integrated within the community when just starting out. With people from many different industries sharing a space, there is potential for many surprising relationships to form. In many cases, coworking spaces will host weekly or monthly events that attract industry professionals as well as people from the community. This can be very beneficial to a new office because it can take some of the stress off of trying to make connections and plan events on your own. Perhaps it is not the final destination one will land in the long term, but as a new office just starting to make a mark within the community, co-working spaces can be a great way to become established more quickly.
Choosing not to have a physical office
In our post-covid world, many are still choosing to work remotely. When establishing a new office, working remotely comes with many challenges. You have to work a lot harder to make connections and to be involved in the community. It’s harder to make a name for yourself when people cannot associate you with a physical location, especially as architects, or people within the design and construction world. While working remotely is an option that may work for some, it does not come with the benefits of the other avenues
Developing a Recruitment Plan
If growing the team is a goal of the new office, taking the time to develop a recruitment strategy will ensure that you are setting the office up for success in hiring the best possible candidates for your team. As a new office, your time is extremely valuable. You do not have time to hire team members with a quick turnaround. You likely want to recruit dedicated, lasting team members who can help you plant roots in a new market. Developing your own recruitment plan can be as simple as sitting down and going over your ”wishlist” for a new team member, and reviewing hiring strategies from other companies to see where there is overlap. Creating your own recruitment guide is a much more involved process, but will help to streamline the recruiting and hiring stage, and build a better future for the company as a whole.
Establishing a new office is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of hard work and patience. There are many components that must come together in order to be successful. This process does not come without its challenges, but adopting some of the ideas presented above can help reduce some of the stress and put your team in a position where you can continue to develop and thrive. It is important to embrace the informalities that come along with starting something from the ground up in a new market. This often involves reaching out to the community and really being intentional about establishing relationships. Implementing these ideas with your team can get you on the road to establishing your place in a new market.