We spoke with both Uri and Offir to gain their perspectives on the growing coworking sector, understand how Green Desk fits into that market and gain their insight on the future of real estate.
Insightive.tv: What are the key market forces affecting your business at the moment and how do you expect your workspaces to perform in 2017 as compared to last year?
Uri: We see growth in the SME sector. This is the main reason that we are set to expand our current portfolio in the coming year. This expansion is focused on our local neighbourhoods — Brooklyn and Queens. We are looking to add another 1,000 desks within the next few months. Our nine current buildings offer around 200,000 sq ft of office space that can be rented in formats ranging from a single desk to an extensive traditional office suite. The rage of renting options we offer, with some qualifying as long-term contracts, provides us with an adaptability we intend to utilise as a means of expansion in 2017.
Offir: I think that one of the key market forces that has enabled our business to grow is the simple increase in demand for non-traditional offices. People are looking to the coworking industry as a solution to their needs. It provides flexibility and ease of scalability. We simply plan on continuing to cater to those needs. Our ability to offer quality real estate at an affordable price — simplifying the office needs for our clients — will continue to be a successful strategy for expansion at Green Desk.
Insightive.tv: What are the main challenges you encounter running your workspaces?
Uri: One of the main things that we focus on at Green Desk, aside from being eco-friendly and eco-responsible, is affordability. I would say that the biggest challenge we face is keeping our rents down while retaining high-quality standards for our members. We have tenants who have been members since 2008 and their rent hasn’t raised even once. Our pricing is pretty much half of any competitor that has opened in our neighbourhoods during the last year, and that affordability is one the main differentiating factors between us and our competition. This is something that can be challenging to maintain over the years while implementing new amenities and upgrades to the building — both internal and physical.
Insightive.tv: On the topic of services — what services do you offer on top of “just a desk” and do you plan on continuing to expand your service offerings?
Offir: We offer a wide array of options to our clients — hot desks, virtual offices, private offices, dedicated desks within a communal area. We also offer conference rooms, game rooms, a gym, a rooftop lounge and basic amenities such as kitchen areas.
Over the years, we have seen that additional amenities help tenants maintain their presence within the building and retain their focus on what is really important — their business. Because of this, we do keep track of tenant requests and try and tailor buildings in ways that fit the types of clients that use them. For example, we recently added a bike room to one building that sees heavy cycle commuter use. We obviously cannot meet every person’s specific needs, but, depending on the request, we do make changes where appropriate. We have to look at the cost of implementing and maintaining the service. Most of our revenue comes in through rent and I would estimate that 90% of our services are priced into the cost of rent. Ultimately, we introduce a service if there is substantial demand for a building. .
Insightive.tv: How would you summarise your sales strategy and have you taken steps to increase engagement within your community?
Offir: Our price point is one our biggest sales tactics. If we are not already way below a potential client’s price point, we are able to work with that client to find them a suitable space within one of our other buildings.
Uri: We also have a referral program. Essentially, we give our members incentives to bring in more business through a commission system. This allows us to naturally grow our tenants through word of mouth.
Offir: Over the last few years we have offered different networking and holiday events. These not only provide benefit to our members but raise our visibility and pull in new ones. We also make sure that the building manager — the face every member sees on the way to their office— is someone who they are familiar with and is adept at building a friendly environment that lets people know that they are part of the green desk community. This kind of engagement creates a better experience for our members.
I would say, however, that our ultimate sales point is who we are as a company — we are affordable and functional. We offer modern, fully-furnished turnkey office suites in buildings that are newly renovated, accessible and filled with amenities all in a package that is often half the price of the competition.
Offir Ben-Naim is Director of Business Development at Green Desk. Rapidly gaining success after graduation as a Development Executive at Pearl Realty Management, Offir took the opportunity to put his experience to use in the coworking sector and joined Green Desk.
Uri Zucker is Operations Director at Green Desk. He has been with the company since its foundation and has experience working in real estate as a broker and in management.
Founded in 2008, Green Desk is an expanding cowork community of over 4,000 members based in New York City. They have an eco-friendly and cost-efficient focus that enables companies to scale their businesses while operating affordably. Their current portfolio includes nine buildings across two boroughs. For those aiming to “work hard, live neutral” and grow their business without having to focus on real estate and office managements — Green Desk is set to expand within the NY market and capitalise on the entrepreneurial spirit of the city.
Part of THE FUTURE OF COMMERCIAL PROPERTY series
Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities An Inside View