Franchise Spotlight: Kyle Timmons

Tell us a little about your background

After college, I worked for 10 years as an actuary for insurance companies before leaving to work on my own as an actuarial consultant while staying at home with our children as a stay-at-home dad. Eventually, I started my own mediation company and provided a wide variety of mediation services for businesses, litigants, divorcing couples and EEO complainants. While meditating, I became a member of Office Evolution, eventually retiring from the mediation business and purchasing with my wife OE franchises for the Southeast Valley of the Phoenix area.  Married, two allegedly grown kids, one dog.

What makes you unique?

The variety of jobs that I have had. Everything from janitor to farmhand, ironworker to an actuary, stay-at-home dad to a mediator and now once again, entrepreneur. 

Why did you decide to open an Office Evolution franchise?

At the time we saw OE as an opportunity to provide investment and retirement income on an ongoing basis as we neared and entered retirement.

Tell us a bit about your Business Center Manager

Rebecca Alden, is the true heart of Office Evolution Phoenix. I met her through someone I knew at the Chamber of Commerce who happened to be her boyfriend. She interviewed, was hired and the members of OE Phoenix love her. She is always super helpful to them and has an infectious laugh and personality that brightens everyone’s day. She also has an extensive background in retail sales that helps her help our members find just the right fit for them and their business. 

Tell us a bit about your members

We have a huge variety of occupations and businesses represented at OE Phoenix. Programmers, bookkeepers and accountants, attorneys, audiologists, engineers, therapists and counselors, hair products, renewable and recycling products, financial advisors, tech companies, a kids’ taxi service and many more. One of the best advantages of being a franchisee is watching the culture and relationships of our site develop.

What makes your location unique?

We are located in the very southern part of Phoenix which is known as Ahwatukee. Ahwatukee has been described as the world’s largest cul-de-sac as it has traditionally been a neighborhood with very limited access to two major interstates. The approximately 85,000 people that live in Ahwatukee have high regard for their neighborhood yet are very, very welcoming to any and all newcomers. Due to our proximity to interstate highways, we also draw from a large number of neighboring communities in the valley. 

How were you able to see success?

I would not say we have seen success to date with our location but continue to make slow progress toward that goal. We will see success when as a location we are realizing real returns on the investment we have made.

Advice for future Office Evolution franchise owners?

Above all else, hire the right BCM. Work and understand your Proforma calculations backward and forwards, worst-case to best-case and everywhere in-between and know your numbers.

Be very conservative in your assumptions for development, sales, and expenses.

Find the right location at a good or great deal, don’t be too anxious and agree to a bad deal.

 

Franchise Spotlight: Peggy Barron

Tell us a little about your background

I began my professional life as a metallurgical engineer. During my 30-year career, I worked in several different types of organizations, including a start-up company, an “old school, rust belt” company, a non-profit that managed government contracts, and two Fortune 500 companies.  These organizations varied in industries served, including armor, automotive, high-temp and wear-resistant materials, steel refractories, advanced materials for military applications, tires, and cleaning & sanitizing chemicals (B2B). I held positions in product/process development, R&D, project/program management at local, regional, and global level, in manufacturing – production, quality, engineering & maintenance, hourly workforce training, and high-performance work teams. A lot of very different experience, and early on, I found that I wasn’t afraid to take on new challenges even when I had no experience in the new area.

What makes you unique?

Outside of work, I’m active in Rotary and I enjoy equestrian sports, especially foxhunting and polo. If I’m not in the office, I can be found hanging out with my horse, Ceili! I also enjoy spending quality time with family playing games and fishing. I will be a grandma for the first time this coming winter!

Why did you decide to open an Office Evolution franchise?

In 2016, I experienced an unexpected job loss. After several months of unsuccessful job search, I started to consider investing in a franchise, and I decided to invest in Office Evolution. When I met the OE team and learned about the corporate values, especially the concept of “Ohana”, I knew that I found the right partner.

Tell us a bit about your Business Center Manager

I didn’t have to search far for my first Business Center Manager. When I learned about how important the BCM role is and the skills that a BCM should have, one person immediately came to mind. She has sales and marketing experience, is great at customer service, and has owned her own business. Best of all, she’s my sister!

Tell us a bit about your members 

Most of our members are entrepreneurs but our business model works for just about anyone! We have doctors, lawyers, accountants, contractors, life and business coaches of multiple types, logistics companies, financial planners, IT and GIS businesses and staffing companies just to name a few. Unless the companies’ situations dictate the need for temporary space, our members have signed up for the maximum length memberships. The ones who have left us to head off to their permanent space always hate to go! Our community of members is very supportive of each other, so our culture has a great vibe.

What makes your location unique?

The Piedmont Triad (Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem) is a great place for entrepreneurs. I’ve met so many people starting their businesses, going out on their own from a large firm, or growing a business on the side while they continue their “day job”. There is a lot of opportunities to meet and give/get support from other business owners. Regarding our specific location, the networking that I was doing during my job search naturally morphed into networking for my business. I was talking about Office Evolution months before we were open. Without exception, when I told people where we would be, they said, “Wow, that’s a great location!”

How were you able to see success?

We have made steady progress. Each time we add a new member or hear one of our members telling someone how much they like being in our space, I feel successful.

Advice for future Office Evolution franchise owners?

Take advantage of all that Office Evolution offers. The guidance and support offered are great. As a first-time business owner, I did not want to figure out everything on my own. I felt a lot more confident having the OE team supporting me every step of the way.

Anything you’d like to add?

In my last few positions in the corporate world, what I enjoyed was supporting people in their professional development and then helping them move up into a new job and get ahead. Now, I get that sense of achievement when I help members connect with the people and resources that can help them get ahead in their businesses.

Franchise Spotlight: Dan and Kara Synwolt

Tell us a little about your background 

I have been very fortunate to have worked for several organizations in my career, that include both small and Fortune 500 companies. My background is fairly diverse as well, with experience in production management, stock brokerage and sales to both small, medium businesses, as well as large enterprises. I currently own two companies that include a commercial cleaning business, and an Office Evolution franchise. I’ve been described as somewhat of a workaholic, but I’m trying to accommodate a more reasonable schedule these days to spend more time with family. 

I currently reside with my wife and son in Chicago, which is the I was born and raised in. I’m also a life-long Cubs fan and fitness enthusiast. 

What makes you unique? 

Based on a diverse career history along with several years now of business ownership, I feel that I can easily relate with people of all backgrounds. That includes everyone from company janitor, to the CEO of a given organization, for example. 

Why did you decide to open an Office Evolution franchise? 

With technological advances over the years, people now have the ability that allows them to work wherever and whenever they want, and the gig and “on-demand” economy also continues to gain momentum. Our business centers provide an excellent professional environment for entrepreneurs and business people by providing fully furnished offices & conference rooms, office amenities, high-speed internet and even the coffee that can help people be more productive. Our centers offer a nice distraction-free alternative for people that may work from home or a local coffee house. 

Tell us a bit about your Business Center Manager

My business center manager was the first one hired at Office Evolution/ Chicago/ O’Hare and is also my current BCM. An interesting story about Cheryl is that after her first year as the initial BCM, she met a guy who rented a conference room in our center, and they ended up hitting it off and the relationship became more serious. Unfortunately, her beau was relocated by his company out of state, so he asked Cheryl to make the move with him, and understandably, she accepted. But unfortunately for him (and admittedly, fortunate for us), the relationship ended after a while, so Cheryl ended up moving back to the Chicago area. Of course, she was welcomed back and she is now back as BCM. 

Cheryl is a tremendous asset to the business center here. One attribute is that she is one of the most genuinely positive people that you’ll ever meet. She also has that “do whatever it takes” mindset, to help accommodate our member’s and guest’s needs. 

Tell us a bit about your members

We have a very broad range of members. This includes members in the trades, financial services, trucking, financial services, real estate, not-for-profits, and therapists, just to name a few. For a while, we even had a member who was a chiropractor which is somewhat unique and was very convenient for our members and tenants that reside in O’Hare Plaza building complex. One of our recent members started as a virtual office vendor, then as his business grew, transitioned into a dedicated office. This grew to two offices, then three, and then four offices. His business grew to the extent of his requiring his office suite. We also have an energy drink manufacturer/ distributor that is following this same progression. 

What makes your location unique? 

Few details make our location unique. First, we are a 5-10 minute drive (or cab/ Uber) from O’Hare Airport. We have several people that rent an office and conference rooms just based strictly on our convenience to/from the airport. Our pricing structure is extremely reasonable and flexible when compared to renting conference rooms at the area hotels/ motels. Parking is free and time savings is substantial rather than traveling to a downtown Chicago venue. Being located at the intersection of two expressways (I-94/ I-294) makes it easy for both members and guests to reach us from most areas of Chicagoland. Lastly, our building complex includes many amenities where you step away from multiple foodservice options, a convenience store, hair salon, vending, a fitness center and even a car detailing service, all on-premise. 

How were you able to see success? 

One of the keys to our success is observing, and hopefully contributing to the success of our members. If we have helped in this success, even if it’s a very small part, then feel that we have done our job. This is one of the most satisfying parts of this business.

Advice for future Office Evolution franchise owners? 

There will always be a more cost-effective option as both prospective and existing members evaluate their office and co-working alternatives, so you can only influence the financial decision to a certain extent. After all, the decision to work from home for some may have zero financial cost to the person evaluating their options. But focus on the part of your business in which you have full control, and that is by providing excellent customer service. The goal is to never lose business due to a lack of quality service. 

Anything you’d like to add? 

Being a franchisee for this particular type of concept has been extremely helpful in leveraging a proven system rather than trying to figure out all the details on your own. The franchisee group has been very collaborative as well in collectively improving our business model. The franchisee group consists of people from diverse backgrounds as well, and many bring unique perspectives and ideas that benefit the entire organization as a whole. We are all always striving for continual improvement in what we do.

When Does Month-To-Month Office Space Make Sense?

When Does Month-To-Month Office Space Make Sense? 

Short-term office spaces have their benefits, but when do those benefits make sense versus leasing an office space for the long term? 

As for month-to-month office space, the benefits largely revolve around budgets and business uncertainty. Solopreneurs and startups don’t have deep pockets like larger companies and established corporations, so they need to watch every dollar as closely as possible as they start growing. They might not have the funds to pour into buying desks and chairs, tables and printers, and coffee machines and inspiring decor. Yet these things are needed to create a functional office environment.  

Also, new businesses don’t have the luxury of being able to forecast their future needs. Businesses can’t always predict with accuracy how quickly they will grow, how many employees they will have on their team in the coming year, and how much office space they will really need. 

If money, flexibility, and the future of business are important priorities, then a short-term office might make the most sense. Learn more about when a short-term office space could be in your best interest and where to find one near you. Read more.

5 Questions with Mark Hemmeter, founder and CEO of Office Evolution

5 Questions with Mark Hemmeter, founder and CEO of Office Evolution

Mark Hemmeter grew up in Hawaii in a family entrenched in the real estate business and earned a degree from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder.

In 2003, he founded Office Evolution, a provider of shared and private working space in Boulder.

“I used to work from home,” Hemmeter said.

But it became increasingly difficult with his three little daughters around, making him look for a shared office space. After being a customer of a local coworking space for two years, he decided to get into the same business using $300,000 of his own money.

Over the years Office Evolution evolved into a much larger entity providing private offices, virtual office solutions, and conference rooms. By 2013, Hemmeter began franchising the Office Evolution concept.

It was about bringing an entrepreneurial perspective to the private office space market, he said. “Our efforts have resulted in a growing number of business centers located in key metro areas throughout the United States.”

There are an estimated 5,000 coworking locations in the country, he said. The business continues to grow very quickly, Hemmeter said. We are actively acquiring mom and pop coworking locations. “It’s been a very tight real estate market.”

We recently talked with Hemmeter to learn more about his business, which now is headquartered in Louisville.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the reason behind the popularity of coworking spaces?

Hemmeter: It’s a reflection of a shift in the way we work today. A large number of people choose to work remotely, and many of them believe in the concept of shared

services. Think of cloud computing, Uber and Airbnb. It’s a big trend. We are a big part of it.

You started in Boulder but moved your headquarters to Louisville a few years ago. Why?

Hemmeter: Yes, we started in Boulder at 4845 Pearl East Circle in 2003. The original 3,000-square-foot facility has grown to 7,500 square feet. We continue to lease the Boulder location. It’s one of the eight locations operated by the company. The other 56 locations are franchised. We recently signed a franchise development deal in Colorado Springs, which will become our 65th location, and 14th in Colorado.

We plan to have 75 locations by the end of 2019.

As we grew our business, it became progressively expensive to have a corporate presence in Boulder. It was cheaper to relocate our headquarters to Louisville, which we did in 2015. The move helped us recruit and retain talent. Office Evolution has 25 corporate employees. I have to admit Boulder’s entrepreneurial spirit has carried us through.

What’s the typical size of your coworking space?

Hemmeter: We are now typically building facilities that range from 8,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet. The idea is to have 40 to 50 private offices.

Who are your franchisees? How do you help them?

Hemmeter: Many of our franchisees are corporate executives, a little bit older, who are looking to start a business that can provide recurring income. Often they are close to retirement, and looking at the next phase in their lives. They are looking to run a business that is family friendly, and allows them to work typically from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They don’t want to run a restaurant, for example. They want to have a life beyond business.

The franchising cost ranges from $300,000 to $600,000. We want our potential franchisees to have business smarts, an understanding of sales and marketing, and a passion for what we are doing.

We help our franchisees find a location and help them develop it. We also provide digital marketing support. We customize their websites and run email campaigns for them. This business potentially can help them earn more than $100,000 a year.

What’s the secret of your success?

Hemmeter: We focus on the culture of relationship building. A Hawaiian word, “Ohana” (which means family and can be used to describe a group of people fighting for the same purpose) best describes our core values: That we’re all in this together. Our clients are business owners, our franchisees are business owners. We are a family of business owners helping each other grow.

If you have happy customers, business is always going to thrive.

 

20+ Wellness Tips for the Workplace That Rejuvenate Employees and Boost Productivity

20+ Wellness Tips for the Workplace That Rejuvenate Employees and Boost Productivity

Staying healthy and avoiding stress are top work priorities, in addition to the job itself! Getting the job done requires the right tool. Consider the following tips the tools you need to maintain your productivity and avoid undue workplace stress. 20+ Wellness Tips for the Workplace That Rejuvenate Employees and Boost Productivity  20+ Wellness Tips for the Workplace That Rejuvenate Employees and Boost Productivity