Sajid Islam interviewed Herman Ayala, founder of Workspace Suites, on June 20, 2018.
Prior to founding Workspace Suites, Herman worked in accounting with some large PA firms in Texas. These firms had pretty nice office spaces. However, there was a transition into more modern office as workspaces moved away from the traditional model.
Being in the accounting world, Herman is always looking for something new to have as a side venture. Herman himself was always paying rent on office spaces, so, he wanted to build a space to call his own instead. However, he discovered it would be difficult to afford. To make the venture more reasonable, he decided to build with extra space that others could rent out to supplement the cost.
Opening His Space
Going into the venture, Herman did not really understand the concept of coworking until he decided to get more into a community space than just an office rental space. In fact, right before he got into the architectural plans is when he decided to go the coworking route — about three years ago.
He found the idea of coworking to be interesting because of the focus on relationships. Herman rented office space for about eight years but never got to know anyone else in the building. Familiar faces with personal no connections were common. That is why the notion of forming a strong community intrigued him.
The space officially opened in January 2018 after having a soft opening in November 2017. Workspace Suites focuses on community, getting to know members, and offering members something that would otherwise not be as accessible to them. It allows members to be in an office setting very close to home. Without the distractions that come with working from home, members are productive but still get to have a sense of community.
Members and Outreach
Workspace Suites has a good mix of members who are professional but still collaborative. A lot of them are people who could work from almost anywhere. The diverse space caters to anyone from insurance workers to real estate managers to construction companies. They even have a virtual office space that individuals who started companies in the medical field use.
Workspace Suites utilizes some social media for advertising their space. Social media cannot be skipped as it is a big part of everything nowadays. However, Herman mentioned that they have had great success with a local business publication that actually prints on paper. Sometimes the easiest things are overlooked. Herman made sure to take advantage of the available resources and joined the local chamber of commerce.
The local chamber did some promotions for them. For example, they put a little print add for grand openings and ceremonies into a community publication. So, Workspace Suites ran a print ad for several months. This type of ad was extremely effective, about 80-90% of members came from the publication.
Additionally, they did a few open house events that attracted both social and business contacts. The point is to get the word out so the public knows what is available.
Finding a Community Manager
Herman knew he could not be around the space all the time. So finding a Community Manager at the beginning of the process was a priority. He wanted to have someone who could take ownership of the space. However, because there are not many people with experience as an actual Community Manager, he tailored the process towards attracting anyone who did reception work in the past. Look for someone who can bridge any gaps between what members need and what the space provides.