We posted a release in OT last week about HUB83 in South Barrington, Illinois, which is holding an open house and encouraging folks in the community to drop by and see what it’s all about. One of the enticements to get folks in the door which caught my eye was the promise to “sip on locally roasted coffee”. Aside from imagining that seductive burst of dark roast infiltrating my olfactory senses, I couldn’t help but note how promoting local vendors within business centers has become an increasingly successful marketing tactic.
There was a time when imported goods had a certain sophistication to them; “imported coffee from Columbia”, or “chocolates from Belgium”. Now we are wooed with “locally roasted coffee” and somehow it feels right. When I interviewed Kathleen Buchanan of Executive Centers, quite some time ago, the word “local” was only topped during the interview by the word “community”. These things are important to Kathleen and her center. And, while I haven’t personally visited her center, I sense that she is very much about letting the community flavor infiltrate her spaces. But it hasn’t always been this way. I can recall some of the executive suites of years ago, often very impersonal spaces, lots of worn out prefab; nothing about the spaces would tell you if you were in Dallas or Minneapolis; one size and look fits all needs.
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Today local is hip, local is about taking the old fashioned “store around the corner” feeling and letting it in, stimulating the local economy and being proud to do so. Business centers today are in the best position to turn “local” into an asset, passing local goods and services throughout their centers, while local businesses reciprocate, passing the good word about their centers on the street.
Lest I sound too sunshine and roses about this, it remains unclear whether this model actually drives more revenue. It takes hard work and dedication to achieve a local presence and a lot of cooperation within the community to drive business through the door. Furthermore, not all centers can do all things locally. The mom and pop cleaning service down the street may not be equipped to provide competitive rates, forcing centers to sign contracts with national suppliers. But for most centers, reaching out to local businesses, whenever possible, makes a positive statement, and sometimes that statement alone is all that’s needed.
It seems that the independent center operators are best able to make the pitch, rather than the huge behemoths of the industry such as Regus. There is room of course for everyone. However, centers which make it a part of their business strategy to use the services of local businesses are gaining a valuable form of advertising.