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20 March 2014

The Impact of Office Design on Your Business

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Earlier this week, we hosted another fantastic Google + Hangout, this time on the topic, “The Impact of Office Design on Business.”

Thanks again to our speakers, Susana Murphy from Alante Real Estate, Aman Daro from Red Oak Realty, Eric Post from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Realty Partners, and our host Jennifer Marchetti, SVP of Marketing and Communications at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

You can view a full playback of the hour-long discussion via this link.

As anyone who’s ever set up a brokerage office understands, the office itself – the walls that surround the space where work is done – can play a large role in the growth path of your company. When it comes to creating this space, there’s a lot more strategy and thought involved than simply picking out furniture and wall paper – and the effects are long lasting.

Your office is a physical manifestation of your brand.
Think about ways in which your office can and does reflect who you are as a company.

“When you get a haircut from someone you pay attention to their hair style,” Susana said. “When you buy a pair of shoes, you pay attention to the shoes of the person who’s selling them to you… We sell homes, so our ‘home’ should be the best.”

Perched in front of a wall displaying Alante’s core values, Susana explained how each value factored into every step of creating the physical design. For example, they have a large room with desks in a circle rather than offices and cubicles. This manifests their emphasis on collaboration.

They also have a room with couches, TVs, games and blankets because family is very important to them, and they wanted to make sure there was space for agents and clients to bring their children in if they wanted.

You have to believe in where you’re going for others to follow.
Change is hard for everyone. So in a situation like Eric’s at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Realty Partners, where he was transforming from an old space and traditional way of doing things to a new space and a fresh approach to his business, he had to ensure people were comfortable with the change.

“First you have to believe in what you’re doing,” he said. People can tell when you have doubts and will have trouble following.

Aman added that it helps to show where you’re going early with both the office design and business direction in order to get people excited about joining you. “When people saw the imagery and the vision for what we were trying to do, they got excited.”

Plan smartly to offset new costs.
In Red Oak’s case, they’ve been able to balance a lot of the costs associated with creating a new space by simply being smart with their decisions.

They made some trade-offs, of course. For instance, they moved to a better location, but cut their square footage in half.

And while they incurred remodeling and design costs, they added more sustainable elements like LED lights, which have enabled them to trim monthly utilities.

Creating a new space can be a team-building endeavor.
For Susana, who was starting her company from scratch, she used the entire experience as an opportunity to build bonds with her team and enable them to have a stake in the process.

“The whole team was involved from the beginning,” she said. “They came shopping for the space with me… they helped with everything down to the color of paint.” And that created a lot of internal excitement and pride around the brand and culture they were helping to create.

When your office speaks of your brand, it can make recruiting more organic.
Both Aman and Eric said that recruiting has become much more organic for them since opening new spaces – meaning agents are attracted to them rather than them having to rely solely on “head hunting.”

A unique office helps your brand stand out.
Eric said that his office tends to attract consumers that are also a good fit. They see the space and are immediately intrigued and want to come in and have a look.

Susana agreed that the space itself, for Alante, has enabled them to differentiate from larger competitors. “We have a very unique building that’s remembered,” she said. It contributes to the entire experience.

You will make mistakes and that’s OK.
Red Oak is now redoing its second office space and very aware of lessons learned the first time around.

Aman shared a few of his own, including: hire a good contractor, show up to the site every day, budget at least 20% more time and money than your original estimate, and include more hardwired Internet access.

Tips for others:
The speakers closed our discussion by offering a few tips for those of you who are embarking on an office remodel. They included:

  • Research your options. Talk to people and visit spaces both within and outside of the industry for inspiration.
  • Understand your reason or motivation for doing this in the first place. Is it for branding purposes? To extend your core values?
  • Really think about how your space ties to your brand.

You can view a replay of the entire Beta Broker Hangout below.

Find out more about the Beta Brokerage Project and read broker stories at NextGenBrokerage.com.

 

 

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