To come up with possible solutions to the office space problem I used four methods.
- Straight forward Ďthinkingí whilst going for a walk (10 min.)
- Rapidly saying ideas into a tape-recorder (10 min.)
- Saying images that came to mind into tape-recorder regarding problem (10 min.)
- Research on the Internet: Kansas area office space (1 hr., very slow modem)
Method B produced lots of ideas (some practical, some not). Method C produced the theme of the problem. Method D brought everything into context. Method A allowed me to put what Iíd learned from the other methods together.
I had no prior knowledge of this problem area. I expect youíll get better answers from those that do.
However, one of the images produced from the image-streaming was that of a hermit crab, which is quite apt, really. You can drop a really nice shell near a hermit crab, and it wonít necessarily use that shell. If itís outgrown its old shell and the new one is better sized, it probably will move in. If it hasnít outgrown its old shell but the new one looks a whole lot better, it might just move across.
Using the crab analogy, I think that youíve got a whole lot of crabs in your Kansas area that arenít growing at the moment. Because theyíre not growing, theyíre not looking to move shells. Itíd have to be a really good shell to make them think about it.
What do you offer them? You offer them a decent shell, but one thatís going to cost them a lot to get to. Perhaps itís five rock pools away from their rock pool. If theyíd all outgrown their current shells, that journey might be a risk worth taking. But they havenít, so they wonít.
To put the answer into office-speak: youíre in a stagnating market; in a stagnating market people donít take big risks.
Using the Internet, I found nice offices in your area for $2.5/sq. ft! (Not yours, though; I didnít find your offices advertised on any of the three big office-finder websites I tried). Class A can go for $16, according to the Kansas General.
In the economic climate you describe in the question, companies are less likely to move/expand. If they do, theyíre more likely to take the cheaper option.
When the economy flourishes, your offices will probably be very popular. Think of the Renaissance Italians who tried to have the tallest buildings in the city. Itís that "look at me, arenít I doing well" peacock attitude. If youíve got the best office park in the area, working there will be the badge of success.
In the meantime, it might pay you to offer short- to medium-term office contracts at very low prices; $15 dollars a square foot is better than nothing.
Other ideas to consider are:
Hope you find at least one idea above helpful. [ Back ]
- Contact charities and let them know that you have "charity allocated space," which has free/half/three-quarter rent: permanently. Youíll be doing a good service and youíll be starting the colonisation of your building. When you bring prospective clients to the building, you can show them the charity offices, rather than a bunch of empty rooms. Thereíll be that feel of a living breathing building, rather than a dead one. Itís a bit like barren rock. Once something has got a foothold, other life has less trouble.
- If you have a large university presence, then there will be post-grads who will wish to start businesses, possibly in new and exciting areas. Possibly there are already business parks with subsidies to encourage this sort of thing? Iíd imagine that post-grads would look at far cheaper offices than what you can offer. But who knows? A high percentage of small businesses fail within five years. A lot of people donít have a strong understanding of how to make a business work. You probably do. If students have to apply to you for their chance of discounted office space, you can short-cut the business evolutionary processes and only accept those that have clear business models. This would make it more likely they stay for more than one year and grow into larger companies.
- Franchises have an exceptional success rate because they operate on a tried and tested formula. If you can identify (via trade magazines or websites) franchise companies of a Ďwhite collarí nature that donít have a presence in your town/city, you identify a gap in the market: you might be able to entice them to your area (and your office park).
- Youíve got a top-of-the-range office building. If you can identify companies which are in lesser-quality office buildings and that are outgrowing these offices (despite the economic climate), graduated rent incentives might affect relocation. Iím not sure exactly how you go about this. One way to start might be to spot firms that have just gone public in your area. Another might be to find the biggest, oldest, ugliest tower-blocks in your neighbourhood and drop leaflets to the companies inside.
- A bit of free advertising wouldnít go amiss. Some of the ideas mentioned above (e.g.: charity space) might attract an article in a local newspaper if the newspaper learned of your plans. That article would bring your offices to the attention of people in your area (i.e., potential customers).
Mike Jelley, 4-23-04