Have you ever voluntarily left a job?
If yes, you can probably (and perhaps bitterly) cite a laundry-list of reasons as to why you left: Inefficient management, low pay, lousy benefits, toxic colleagues, poor project management, etc.
On the surface, these appear to be a variety of different reasons, but if you stop and think about it, they all boil down to one thing: Poorly defined company values.
For example, a common company value is open and honest communication.
When this value is articulated to everyone in the company, employees operate and make decisions that naturally align with this value.
For example, a reflection of this value might look like a manager who takes 30 minutes each week to sit down with their team members and gather candid feedback about their week.
As a result, this increases employee satisfaction as employee struggles and complaints are regularly heard and addressed before they ever have a chance to get out of hand.
Member churn in coworking
That said, similar to employee turnover, member turnover or “churn” is probably on your mind.
You can’t just sign people onto your space and expect them to stay long-term.
The ultimate catch-22 of coworking: the business model is designed for people to easily walk in and get to work, but it’s just as easy for them to get up and leave.
When members do get up and leave, most coworking resources are quick to point out the reasons for member churn, such as unreliable internet, members can’t afford it, and no free coffee.
This can be true.
However, what many coworking blogs don’t do is dig a little deeper to identify the fundamental problem underlying these issues.
And more importantly, which core values can be put in place as a buffer against churn.
Because you can’t fully control when the internet will unexpectedly cut out, but you can foster open communication with your members and manage expectations so that if the internet goes out, members will feel confident that you’re on top of the problem, and that you also have their best interest in mind.
That said, here are some essential core values to keep in mind that serves as a buffer against member churn.
Prioritize member happiness
This starts even before your member has walked in for their first day.
For example, making sure that a customer is being offered a membership plan that actually fits their lifestyle and budget, or picking a reliable internet service provider.
Selling pricier memberships might initially bring in more revenue, but if it doesn’t truly fit a customer's needs, it will surely increase the likelihood that they will leave in the long run. Or you could pick an unreliable - but cheaper - internet service provider to save on cost, but your members may be more likely to walk out, too.
Of course, as an entrepreneur, you got into this business to make a profit. But in your day-to-day, you must focus on the long term and slightly more intangible goal of helping others as the ultimate end goal. As this article from Share Desk states, “I want to make money” is among the worse reasons to start a coworking space.
Foster open communication
Many coworking resources claim that members leave coworking spaces because “something bothered them” or that “customer service was bad.”
Of course, this vague feedback only scratches the surface, and more importantly, it doesn't really give a business owner any tangible or actionable feedback before it’s too late.
So - how do you encourage your members to talk to you? Talk to them first!
If time is an issue, you can also use technology to assist with communication.
For example, leveraging a coworking management software like Spacial facilitates open exchange between members and owners. Offering member-facing features like a ticketing system which allows members to instantly “flag” any issue to management.
Alternatively, you can open up communication by sending out experience surveys. Otherwise, you can take the more casual route and catch members at the coffee machine and have a chat.
Customers always appreciate feeling heard.
The bottom line: a business that keeps turnover low safeguards against people leaving over a “customer service incident,” for example, by prioritizing regular feedback and communication with clients.
Stay innovative and ahead of the curve
Employees often leave organizations that fall behind in terms of salary, workplace culture, benefits, and perks.
If you don’t stay ahead of the curve, people can quickly become enticed by other organizations that provide a more vibrant culture and extensive benefits.
Similarly, keeping member churn low starts with prioritizing forward-thinking and innovation; always keeping a finger on the pulse of the ever-changing needs of the industry and the target customer.
This cannot be done on intuition alone.
Conscious market research and analysis must be done regularly. New coworking spaces are constantly opening.
Your goal: offer competitive pricing, unique services, and amenities that you know few other coworking spaces offer.
As a result, your members are less likely to have wandering eyes for other spaces.
Cultivate a culture of respect and generosity
As this Think Big Partners article states, “coworking is a hospitality industry.”
Similar to that of a hotel or gym, the nature of the business might occasionally include upset customers.
As such, it’s vital that coworking staff is trained to properly handle upset members and there is also a culture of mutual respect backing interactions and exchanges with members.
Well-defined company values are the cornerstone of a fully operational business.
Values such as honesty or innovation create an invisible yet vital structure to guide decision making across the company.
When organizations ensure these values are in place, employees are more likely to feel satisfied with their work environment, especially if their values align with your business's.
Similarly, coworking spaces should also take time to intentionally define core values because this ultimately creates a buffer against member churn.