Small office is big business

Brian Patton, CCIM

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That’s Chad Davis’s motto. Chad is the general manager of Johns Creek Regus. Regus is a global company with $2 billion in yearly gross sales and 2,000 offices worldwide. Regus offers flexible, non-traditional and virtual office space for rent.

The “eat ’em” part refers to Regus’s growth over the last two years. Just in the Atlanta market, Regus has almost doubled in size from 27 locations to 42. Part of their growth spurt has been from eating up competitors, Office Suites Plus and Corporate Office Centers. Their success is evidenced by an 80 percent occupancy in the Atlanta market.

Chad’s response to the question of why they are growing so fast is simple. Low start-up costs, short-term leases and easy staffing has pushed entrepreneurs from corporate settings to the shared office space market.

The main advantage, low start-up costs, are priced in several ways at Regus. An entrepreneur can start as low as $499 per month for a physical office, or $199 per month for virtual space. Of course, larger companies can even take a full suite or floor, as well.

Regus’s success hinges on the entrepreneur and the belief that the “American entrepreneur” is alive and well. Companies like Regus provide a regional and global platform for the start-up business, a way to give that “big company” impression at less costs.

Like many entrepreneurs, a lot of my meetings take place at Starbucks. But Chad detests that notion. He says for $19 per month, you can use the lounge area of any of their 42 Atlanta locations, and get free coffee and Wi-Fi. And for $29 per month, you can have unlimited access to all 750 Regus lounges in the U.S.

If you’re looking for a little twist on the Regus model, then you can try Roam. Roam is an innovative, alternative shared workspace. Peyton Day, Roam’s CEO, is heading up the opening of two new locations, both of which open in early 2015. One is in Cobb Galleria, and the other is a Buckhead location, in Tower Place.

Roam’s Alpharetta location was its pilot spot that opened several years back. The Dunwoody location opened in March 2013. While Roam still delivers on the dedicated office space, most of its offerings are shared space. You can rent by the hour or day, no strings attached, unhindered and unbothered.

The start of the Roam concept began when five IBM’ers were sent home to work from the house. Soon, like most entrepreneurs eventually discover, the dogs barking and all the distractions of home put them on the search for a new model.

Peyton, in responding to the growth in this marketplace, delivers a similar answer.

“People want flexibility and don’t want to be stuck with a long lease with personal guarantees,” Peyton said.

He says that Roam’s coffee bar and collaborative workspace is what makes it a unique concept.

Roam’s plan is to grow its Atlanta footprint and then take the concept to the Southeast. Its calling card is 50 MB up and down Internet. Membership in one Roam location also gets you into all the others.

Never tried Roam before? Peyton says come in for a free day pass just to try it out. And, their community tables at each location are open to the general public for free. Just come in and enjoy the atmosphere.

It appears, as small business continues to be the main generator of economic growth and job creation, shared office space will be an alternative office model that will become more and more mainstream.

Brian Patton, CCIM is an author and trusted advisor on commercial real estate investments and development. He can be reached at 770-634-4848 or via his website: www.BrianPattonCommercial.com.


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