This was a concept I came up with in 2010. We changed our focus from a building full of tenants to a community of companies. We used the concept to build a pretty nice portfolio of a million square feet of commercial space. Much later, a company called WeWork leveraged this concept into a $20 billion valuation…
In my 11 years as Vice President of Leasing and Acquisitions, our corporate tagline has been “A Portfolio of Office, Retail and Industrial Properties.” We’ve made a subtle change in our tagline, but this reflects a significant change in our focus. Our new tagline is “A Community of Office, Retail and Industrial Properties.”
With a portfolio, the focus is on return on the real estate investment. That involves minimizing cost while maximizing revenues. On the cost side, there is the temptation to cut corners and reduce expenses, but you simply cannot take that approach and expect to maintain tenant loyalty.
We realized early on that a relationship-oriented tenant-driven approach was the key to our success. By providing an attractive work environment, excellent service, and responding to tenants as their space needs change, we have always outperformed the market and developed long term mutually beneficial relationships with our tenants.
But in today’s challenging economy, we have realized that we have to be something more, and we are now taking that concept one step further. The concept of community has long applied to the residential market, but not to the commercial market. People like to live and share with like-minded neighbors, which enhances their quality of life and gives them roots in their community.
In traditional office settings, major corporations are stacked one above the other, which doesn’t do much to facilitate a sense of community. We believe our properties are different. We cater to a local upscale entrepreneurial clientele. A majority our tenants are local professionals or family businesses with less than ten employees. The person you meet on the elevator is generally not some mid-level manager, he or she has probably the owned of the business for 10 years or is related to the owner.
We believe the opportunity for our tenants to interact with like-minded entrepreneurs and share business opportunities provides tremendous value for our tenants and for our properties. If the CPA in Suite 107 refers a client to the Financial Planner in 1122, that may generate enough revenue to pay the Financial Planner’s rent for the year.
Our mission for 2010 and beyond is to facilitate the sense of community among our tenants, create business opportunities and add value to our buildings through these activities. Technology will play a major role. The explosion of social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube gives us an outlet to tell our story and exchange valuable information through words, pictures and video. But there is no substitute for face to face interaction. Toward that end, we are facilitating tenant events, small group meetings and encouraging one on one meetings between tenants.
This is a new concept in commercial real estate and we are in the pioneering stages. We are actively seeking contributions and feedback from our tenants as it is truly an interactive effort. For our community concept to work, it takes leadership from the landlord and cooperation and effort from the tenants. We believe that the effort will be worthwhile in developing business for our tenants which in turn helps to keep our tenants profitable and provides incentive for them to stay with us long term. You will be hearing our marketing and social media specialist who will be spearheading this effort to create “A Community of Office and Warehouse Properties”