Community manager vs business owner, and sales?

This past month I’ve had a lot of business choices to make. I’d be interested in hearing other people’s perspective from similar businesses/communities.

For coworking places that earn enough to pay salaries to all staff including the owners, I’d be interested to hear:

  • How do the community manager and the business owner roles overlap and how are they different?
  • Specifically I’m interested in the role of sales. Is the community manager expected to sign up members without members talking with the business owner? How do you hire a community manager who can do sales almost as well as, or better than, the business owner?
  • Do you have staff who are paid full-time (or half-time or more) who do not do sales?
  • For every 10 people who visit to tour, or for a trial day, what % do you expect to sign up that day, and what % do you expect to sign up later on? (I’m especially interested in people who sign up for memberships that are over $175 per month.)
  • Do any coworking places sign up more than half of members before the potential members visit? (I know that some places specifically want people to visit before signing up, but I don’t have that as a requirement and sometimes people have signed up before visiting, which I always enjoy.)
  • Which business owners integrate their coworking places into their second businesses, where the two businesses support each other and share the same vision? What issues have you had with that, and what successes?

Thanks,

Alex

Based on the way you asked these questions and your intro about decisions, I think it’d be helpful to get a bit more context so our advice can actually help you :slight_smile:

Otherwise, we’re going to be answering questions based on some conclusions you’ve already drawn…but we aren’t aware of. That’s a great way to get crappy advice, in general.

What’s the reason for these questions being asked now?

-Alex

···


/ah
indyhall.org

On Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 12:42 AM, Alex Linsker [email protected] wrote:

This past month I’ve had a lot of business choices to make. I’d be interested in hearing other people’s perspective from similar businesses/communities.

For coworking places that earn enough to pay salaries to all staff including the owners, I’d be interested to hear:

  • How do the community manager and the business owner roles overlap and how are they different?
  • Specifically I’m interested in the role of sales. Is the community manager expected to sign up members without members talking with the business owner? How do you hire a community manager who can do sales almost as well as, or better than, the business owner?
  • Do you have staff who are paid full-time (or half-time or more) who do not do sales?
  • For every 10 people who visit to tour, or for a trial day, what % do you expect to sign up that day, and what % do you expect to sign up later on? (I’m especially interested in people who sign up for memberships that are over $175 per month.)
  • Do any coworking places sign up more than half of members before the potential members visit? (I know that some places specifically want people to visit before signing up, but I don’t have that as a requirement and sometimes people have signed up before visiting, which I always enjoy.)
  • Which business owners integrate their coworking places into their second businesses, where the two businesses support each other and share the same vision? What issues have you had with that, and what successes?

Thanks,

Alex

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I’m wondering what is reasonable to expect for the next 10 years.

I was thinking I could get input without skewing the answers. But I’ll give my answers, and would be interested in other perspectives from people whose coworking places earn enough to pay salaries to all staff including the owners.

  • How do the community manager and the business owner roles overlap and how are they different?
    Collective Agency is 5,000 square feet. We have 50 members, everybody has 24/7 access, and almost everybody pays $250 a month or $2400 for 12 months prepayment. $2400 is the newest and now the most popular option. I sell to between 1 and 5 and 1 in 2 people who visit, and members I sign up stay on average for more than a year, some for many years. All of that gets members referring more people. In contrast, various people I’ve trained to do sales have only signed up people at the $250/month option (not the $2400/year option), and on average the people they sign up have been members for a shorter amount of time. Less than 1 in 10 by a couple people, to around 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 (but for much shorter periods of time) by two other people, has been the sales here.

A large part of interacting with members as it relates to sales, is members referring people, and talking about how Collective Agency affects their lives to people (which could be a happy lunch, or an event, or a conversation, or a sign, etc etc etc). So I want the community manager’s actions to lead to long-term sales through any marketing or community organizing. Going to events to represent our community is also only useful to me if it leads to sales. So I’m wondering how other people of places that pay salaries to employees and owners manage their sales, and whether you can delegate it out, either through a website that gets signups before getting visits, or through employees.

For these questions, I’m not interested in places where people volunteer or barter in exchange for membership, both because I value paying staff for work, and because members already help with sales by interacting with people who visit.

If you do delegate sales, what is your conversion ratio? What kind of training do you do or backgrounds do you look for? How much do you pay staff and for how many hours per week?

My last question: I used to do lots of different things and found it very difficult. Doing one thing (one business) I find very fun and fulfilling. I’m doing two businesses now, and have tended to focus on one, then the other, and back again, through what feels like necessity. I would love to have a physical place with a community, and a broader social/economic justice work, and to integrate them, and for people who pay for meeting space and membership to value both the broader collective agency and the more internal collective agency focus, while not feeling devalued in any way by not participating in that broader work. I’m wondering of places that do that; EcoTrust is an event space, office space, and environmental/economic organization in Portland, but is much bigger than 5,000 square feet and has many staff and a very large budget. I would be interested in other examples.

Thanks,

Alex

  • Specifically I’m interested in the role of sales. Is the community manager expected to sign up members without members talking with the business owner? How do you hire a community manager who can do sales almost as well as, or better than, the business owner?
  • Do you have staff who are paid full-time (or half-time or more) who do not do sales?
  • For every 10 people who visit to tour, or for a trial day, what % do you expect to sign up that day, and what % do you expect to sign up later on? (I’m especially interested in people who sign up for memberships that are over $175 per month.)
  • Do any coworking places sign up more than half of members before the potential members visit? (I know that some places specifically want people to visit before signing up, but I don’t have that as a requirement and sometimes people have signed up before visiting, which I always enjoy.)
  • Which business owners integrate their coworking places into their second businesses, where the two businesses support each other and share the same vision? What issues have you had with that, and what successes?
···

On Monday, December 8, 2014 10:01:14 PM UTC-8, Alex Hillman wrote:

Based on the way you asked these questions and your intro about decisions, I think it’d be helpful to get a bit more context so our advice can actually help you :slight_smile:

Otherwise, we’re going to be answering questions based on some conclusions you’ve already drawn…but we aren’t aware of. That’s a great way to get crappy advice, in general.

What’s the reason for these questions being asked now?

-Alex


/ah
indyhall.org

On Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 12:42 AM, Alex Linsker [email protected] wrote:

This past month I’ve had a lot of business choices to make. I’d be interested in hearing other people’s perspective from similar businesses/communities.

For coworking places that earn enough to pay salaries to all staff including the owners, I’d be interested to hear:

  • How do the community manager and the business owner roles overlap and how are they different?
  • Specifically I’m interested in the role of sales. Is the community manager expected to sign up members without members talking with the business owner? How do you hire a community manager who can do sales almost as well as, or better than, the business owner?
  • Do you have staff who are paid full-time (or half-time or more) who do not do sales?
  • For every 10 people who visit to tour, or for a trial day, what % do you expect to sign up that day, and what % do you expect to sign up later on? (I’m especially interested in people who sign up for memberships that are over $175 per month.)
  • Do any coworking places sign up more than half of members before the potential members visit? (I know that some places specifically want people to visit before signing up, but I don’t have that as a requirement and sometimes people have signed up before visiting, which I always enjoy.)
  • Which business owners integrate their coworking places into their second businesses, where the two businesses support each other and share the same vision? What issues have you had with that, and what successes?

Thanks,

Alex

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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I am not sure how helpful this will be,as I seeem to be looking at different metrics than you are; and also becaue the demographics are all different. But I’ll give it a whirl.

  • Specifically I’m interested in the role of sales. Is the community manager expected to sign up members without members talking with the business owner? How do you hire a community manager who can do sales almost as well as, or better than, the business owner?
    I have contractors rather than employees. My contractor can sign up members without talking to me, but my signature is necessary for the contract. So I have a last review and theoretical veto, though I have never exercised it.

I have had somebody (again on contract) just for sales, when I was going after specific target markets. He was better at that because it was what he did. He was paid an amount equal to the first month, just like a real estate broker is. But if you want to hire an employee for sales specifically, then you have to select, measure, and also pay on that basis I think.

  • Do you have staff who are paid full-time (or half-time or more) who do not do sales?
    See, this is where I am having trouble. If I want somebody for sales, because I want to develop in a specific market, I get somebody just for sales, and any other work I may ask them to do will be incidental. My current contractors were not chosen for sales and are not measured on it because it is incidental to what they do. They are paid the first month for sales, and one of my contractors can do that math pretty well and has found that she enjoys doing sales.

  • For every 10 people who visit to tour, or for a trial day, what % do you expect to sign up that day, and what % do you expect to sign up later on? (I’m especially interested in people who sign up for memberships that are over $175 per month.)

The only people who sign up that day are people who already know they are going to when they walk in, barring its being a complete disaster that day; they usually have already reviewed the contract in concept before they get here and so on. This is not that many. But again, my main space is in a city of 50,000 people; in Amsterdam, signups that day are far more common.

About half the people who come to visit sign up eventually, with eventually being defined as sometime in the next two or three years. Small town, remember?

  • Do any coworking places sign up more than half of members before the potential members visit? (I know that some places specifically want people to visit before signing up, but I don’t have that as a requirement and sometimes people have signed up before visiting, which I always enjoy.)
    In my Den Bosch location, we have a pilot project in coworking for webshops, multilocation businesses generally, import-export, and so on – businesss for whom the idea of location is more or less irrelevant. For this pilot, nearly all the businesses sign up sight unseen (other than I assume on Google street view and so on).

  • Which business owners integrate their coworking places into their second businesses, where the two businesses support each other and share the same vision? What issues have you had with that, and what successes?
    I integrate coworking into other people’s businesses: two of my locations are shared space with an existing business (soon to be four! yay!). Both of the existing ones thought of it as a sort of shop-in-shop concept. One really does not trouble itself with the coworking at all but likes very much having the coworkers which are more or less in the same industry (it is a silkscreen printing shop; they like having the designers, creatives, and ad and graphics folks around) and the other is entertaininly enough a serviced/executive office. So I suppose it is fair to say they are trying out the vision.

The new spaces in development are respectively an advertising/PR business and a shipping and logistics business.

It is a little like having different teams in the same footie club I find, or having basketball and football teams for the same school. The focus and goals of the different teams will not be the same. The seasons may even be different. The funding will come from different sources. But at the end of the day they have to have a common identity/allied values and they have to be prepared to cheer each other on as it were, when tournament season rolls around.

I do find it is very important by the way to keep an eye on the branding and identity aspects and keep those clear. In the shared spaces I have logos for the coworking which are similar to but not the same as that of the existing business. This is more important than you might think as a matter of communication. It is important to have your boundaries clear and to talk about them a good deal at least at the beginning. Just as in a good relationship, you do well to understand and accept the nature of each party and not use this as a way to change them. :slight_smile:

Cheers,

Jeannine