John and Karen Przedpelski believe in a hands-on work environment. They are very involved in managing their Office Evolution in Tampa, Florida and look forward to opening up a second location in Harbour Island this fall. In order to succeed, they like to find out what their members are looking for in the workplace and how they can best accommodate them.
Tell me a little about your background?
We’ve lived in Tampa for over 30 years, where Karen was an accountant and I was the Sr. Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Masonite International. Karen later took some time off to raise our three children. We thought of taking early retirement when our youngest graduated from high school but soon began looking for new business opportunities, and fell in love with Office Evolution.
Why did you decide to open an Office Evolution franchise?
We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and we liked the people, the training available, and the corporate assistance offered to franchisees through the whole process with Office Evolution. At Masonite, I was responsible for our corporate facilities as well as our Global IT organization, so I was familiar with scouting out properties, signing leases, and working with professionals, which was another thing that really attracted us to Office Evolution.
When we came out for Ohana Day, we both connected with the people and the concept of helping other business owners. The role of an Office Evolution franchisee is a nurturing and more of a supportive role. We get to help people grow their business. That part of the business is one of the more rewarding aspects and is something we get excited about.
Tell us a little about your Business Center Manager
Our Business Center Manager (BCM) is Lori D’Alessio and she’s been with us since last summer. Originally, Karen and I shared the BCM role because we really wanted to learn every detail of the business ourselves and see what Tampa business owners needed to help them succeed.
Lori was originally a member at our Office Evolution location with her prior company, then she came on as our BCM. She was interested in the position and she knew the experiences of the members as she was also a member. She spent a few months with us on a temporary basis, and we quickly determined she was a good fit, so we hired her full time. The members love connecting and receiving help from her. Lori enjoys building our center’s awareness through social media and networking in the community and does a great job running the day to day operations.
We’re looking forward to opening our second location downtown and have found a BCM to help us open the center and help with the pre-selling we have already started on. We will be able to see what people are looking for in the downtown location so that we can tailor our office to meet their needs.
What makes your location unique?
It’s in a wonderful location called Westshore, which is the largest business district in the state of Florida. Our Location is conveniently located to all major highways and bridges, it’s two miles from the airport, has lots of free parking, and it’s close to restaurants and two large malls.
Our next location is going to be a bit different. It will be on Harbour Island, across a short bridge from the downtown area, in a popular part of town that has lots of new development. Tampa is transforming right now and has a very vibrant downtown life. There are also very busy restaurants and hotels nearby.
We’re excited to be a part of the growth in Tampa. We fully support the exposure and visibility of the OE brand. To help with additional exposure, in our new location, there will be a large illuminated sign on the waterfront across from the Tampa Convention Center that sees thousands of people per day. We can also collaborate with local restaurants and businesses, which will connect us to potential members. We have lived and worked in the area for so long and feel that helps us with reaching out into the community and helping our business succeed.
How were you able to see success?
From the empty Starburst candy jar on the counter — just kidding! I think that it was very good timing. Tampa is growing like crazy, and there’s not a lot of coworking space like Office Evolution so there’s definitely a need for it here. Also, I’m in the office every day, and am very involved with our current and potential members and that’s what we want our Business Center Manager to do as well.
We’re really here to help people grow their business. We love the feedback from our members that we’ve created a really supportive, caring environment with a good atmosphere. We look for members that will thrive in our environment and we’re very honest with people. We have nice, private offices, and host events for both members and non-members to connect. Our goal is to create a place where people come into work with smiles on their faces.
Advice for future Office Evolution franchise owners?
Get engaged in the business. Some people think it’s an absentee business model, but in the beginning, it isn’t, rather semi-absentee is something you can develop over time. We recommend that you be involved in the business as much as you can be and be familiar with the day-to-day operations to connect with the members as a partner.
We want our members to see behind the scenes. I’m in the office almost every day, working on many projects. Our members know if they need anything, they can find both Lori or me around to lend a hand. We just completed the expansion of our current space and were pleased to open with it being sold out. Lori runs the business, but I think being in touch with our members (many who started with us when it was Karen and I selling the space) makes a difference for our members, knowing that they can connect to another owner. Regarding our new location downtown, we are working on getting the office up and running, giving tours and pre-selling and getting the word out that Office Evolution is growing again.