How This Workspace Provider Defied The Traditional Expansion Model… And Won
Up next on our Industry Game-Changers series is Serendipity Labs, one of the first coworking operators to use the franchise model to power its expansion efforts.
Serendipity Labs was founded in 2013 by John Arenas. Since opening its first location in Rye, NY, the brand has focused on the hospitality aspect of flexible workspaces.
Paula Gomprecht, Senior Director of Marketing for Serendipity Labs, says that the brand identifies itself as being in the hospitality industry. “We look at the workspaces as a service industry as a hospitality vertical. Hospitality is our main focus, it’s in our DNA.”
From their perspective, there is a lot of overlap between hospitality and providing workspace as a service.
“People expect an upscale and quality experience. Our mission is to deliver wholly on the promises we make, surpassing members’ expectations.”
With coworking expected to continue growing in the coming years, the brand is focusing now on expansion plans–all while staying true to their hospitality mindset.
“Coworking is no longer just for younger and tech groups. Coworking is shifting towards catering to more traditional office workers and it’s also shifting towards suburban locations. There is a lot of opportunity in the industry and we want to take advantage of it.”
In a fast evolving and fast growing industry, it’s essential for brands to be able to grow as fast as or faster than the industry itself is growing.
Franchising For Faster Growth
Serendipity Labs chose the franchise model to power its growth and expansion.
Gomprecht tell us that the decision wasn’t based solely on the monetary investment part. “The franchise model allows us and the franchisee to invest in local communities. By using the franchise model, we are able to have an owner that is highly involved in the development and success of their own and local community. Plus, franchising with local owners also gives us a competitive advantage, as they understand the market, the opportunities, and the competition.”
In an industry where community lies at the core of success, being highly involved and understanding the local market can truly set a business apart from its competition. Which is also why they have decided to give their franchisees exclusive geographic area agreements.
Being fully committed to hospitality, Serendipity Labs is seeking to partner with businesses that are already in the hospitality industry, especially with hotels.
“Hotel owners see so much market potential in Serendipity Labs, especially in areas where they already have established hotels.”
The franchise model is allowing Serendipity Labs to grow its portfolio in record time. “We have a strong pipeline, people are reaching out to us, and with new franchisees coming on board we have over 100 locations in development and franchisees have a three-year time-frame to open the agreed number of locations.”
The franchise model doesn’t come without its challenges however. With a great name comes great responsibility, and Serendipity Labs has to make sure that all of its Labs–regardless of owner, city, or market–is up to par with their corporate standards and delivering the upscale quality service that its members expect.
“All of our franchisees receive extensive training. We want to make sure that everyone, from the person at the registration desk to corporate, knows how to handle communications, security, service, and the like. We want to have control over the operations.”
“It’s a very tight but inclusive work model,” Gomprecht tells us. “We work very closely with our franchisees to make sure that the locations, the design, the amenities, and the overall experience is catered to its particular city.”
“We don’t want to be a box.”
The franchise model is a win-win. From the franchisee perspective, it’s a much smaller investment with a much shorter turnaround time. For Serendipity Labs, this means that they can grow more quickly and with a lesser amount of risk.
“We have a structure in place. We’re working on creating a seamless experience for our franchisees and our members. We’ll do it one lab at a time, and we’ll do it right. And there will be a multiplying effect; a blossom of Serendipity Labs across the country.”
We already know what we can expect from Serendipity Labs in the coming year, and that is absolute growth and a plethora of new locations.
As for the industry, Gomprecht believes great opportunities lie in suburban markets and that there will be an intensified focus on catering to established companies. She also predicts industry consolidation.
Gomprecht finished up our interview by saying that even though consolidation is on the cards, “different brands appeal to different people at different times of their lives. Not one brand can purely own the coworking and workspace-as -a-service market.”