How do you attract customers and create an environment in which they want to stay? This is more design orientated rather than the sales process. Although any of you in sales will know that marketing is embedded into everything we do, from processes right through to physical and process design.
Understanding design is a really important element of adding value and maximising your return. It can also be a lot of fun trying to work out what is going to work best for your investment. How can I reduce circulation space and maximise returns whilst enhancing the appeal? It can be tricky but those aren’t always competing ideas.
For those of you who think you are less creative, don’t worry. The principles I am going to talk about are the same. You don’t need to don your frilly designer clothes and loud colours quite yet. Whatever you are comfy in is just fine. It’s your property!
You might feel you want to involve a designer of some kind whether that be a space designer, an architect or interior designer. Or you might even want to do it all yourself, because you really enjoy that element.
Either way, it is important to understand some of these key considerations right back at the deal appraisal stage. You need to know roughly where you can add value. So you do need to be able to think through the building layout and design challenges, because this is where you can find opportunity. A challenge is just an opportunity in disguise, right?
12 steps to maximise design appeal
Think through the process of customer acquisition as we go through the steps. Some of these are more CMO orientated, but you can consider them for more managed forms of multi-let or single lets.
Decide which social media platforms are best to let people know what you do. Create a website that is slick, simple to use and has as little friction as possible.
Physical outside appearance:
Consider landscaping and vegetation. Can you even see the property? It could be worth trimming anything that is hiding your building or hindering that all important first impression. Especially in places where signage could be optimal. Is the entrance easy to find? Customers may begin to wonder how convenient it is for their own clients if they can’t find the way in themselves.
Do you have a staff member? Can they smile and engage? All of this does depend on the building and the offer you think you need. Smaller buildings might not be able to support everything that you would like to put in.
Freshly decorated corridors and entrance areas
You don’t have to have everything perfect here. I have let spaces that have had no walls or ceilings before. Admittedly it is harder, but don’t let a good viewing slip you by just because you aren’t “ready” for it.
Sight of technology
This could cover a range of things from the alarm, WIFI, access control with phone or membership card. Even socket covers & light cables. How ancient do they look?
Provide the best internet you can afford
…and talk about it. A good internet connection & WIFI are becoming more of a commodity as it is now an expectation. Think hotels and which amenities sway you to book. Or not!
This is the area which should invite customers in. If you or your staff are carrying out viewings it is beneficial to have an informal area where you can sit, chat and make the customer feel at home and at ease. It will also remove the discomfort of a front reception desk. Albeit depending on what type of customer base you are aiming for. In some cases that may be more appropriate, such as appointment making customers, like therapeutic businesses or professions such as lawyers, attorneys, accountancy etc.
Create communal spaces
It is also beneficial to create a supportive environment for existing customers. An area which encourages social interaction and relaxing moments away from their desk. Let them picture using these spaces. A lot of your local competition may not provide that type of additional space.
Some will really want and use them, others think they will but never do. Research the demand for these spaces early on.
Not just in terms of unit size. Are there long institutional corridors with no natural light? It is fine to steal light from surrounding spaces by the use of glass in doors or separate screens. Frosting the glass by all means but leave a little gap around the edge so you don’t lose all the life and movement.
Consider extras like bike racks and showers for active clients who want to exercise or cycle to work.
Get some customers
A bit chicken and egg of course. But remember the first phase of a CMO development. Get some bums on seats. The social proof and sense of community can really add value to your offering.
Now with all of this you need to work out where the law of diminishing returns kicks in. For example, with a small CMO building with a potential of £40K per annum it is not sensible to employ someone full time to operate it as they will take up half of your turnover.
Know your optimum product offering and don’t overdo it. An example could be re-laying the whole car park. Or A gigabit internet fibre line for 2 customers.
There are so many other factors that will affect the appeal of your location, but this should help in the beginning.
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