If you are thinking about relocating or expanding your company's operations to a new city (e.g. Austin, Tx) opening a satellite office (aka branch office) is the perfect way to get started. It's a great way for you to test a market to ensure your company will have success before committing long term.
What is a Satellite Office?
A satellite office is an extension or division of a larger corporate office that is located in a different region, city, or country. For example Starbucks headquarters is in Seattle, however they have satellite offices in other cities so they can manage and operate their retail stores
What are the Benefits of Having a Satellite Office?
- Opportunity to enter & test new markets with your brand, product, and service
- Tap into national and international markets
- Allows you to research and learn about the culture and norms of a city to ensure it's right for your company
- Faster service & response times to existing customers
- Easier access to potential investors and startup advisors
- Opportunities to partner with local business and expand your network
- Ability to access talent that you otherwise would not have access to
Satellite Office Space Options
Depending on the needs and stage of your company there are several satellite office space options to consider. Keep in mind a satellite office is a way for you to test a market before committing long term so typically the shorter commitment you can get the better. If your company is more established and financially sound then committing to a longer term satellite office lease may not be a problem.
- Virtual satellite office – This will allow you to have a physical address in your ideal city however your employees will primarily work from home. This will allow you flexible lease terms (e.g. mo to mo, 12 months, etc..) and be the lease expensive option.
- Executive Suite – Something like Regus Business Suites will allow you to rent plug n play physical offices spaces for short terms such as month to month or terms up to 12 months. You can rent one office or multiple offices. You will have both a physical address and and office for your employees to go to. Executive suites are great short term solutions however get pricier the more remote employees you have.
- Co-Working Space – There are a number of coworking spaces that have popped up in major cities that will allow you to rent office space on a short term basis. They many different options to choose from such as open seating, assigned desk, private office, etc. These will typically charge on a per person basis. Typically more suited for tech or software companies. You don't typically see professional service companies (e.g. attorneys, financial companies, etc.) use coworking spaces.
- Rent your own office – This is basically just finding office space for rent and signing a lease. You will then have to rent or buy furniture, install phone/data cabling, and get your internet and phone set up. Depending on the market you are opening a satellite office in this will typically require a 3-5 year commitment unless you find a short term sublease or a landlord willing to do short term leases.
If you are about to open a satellite office below are a few factors you should consider
- How do your employees work? – Will your satellite office be a sales and marketing office? If so will they be traveling and gone all the time? Or will it be an engineering office where they will mostly be in the office 9am to 5pm? Also having flexible space allows workers to move about the space and not be chained to one seat. For example an architect might need to move from their desk to a larger table so they can roll out big drawings, then move to another common area work area to discuss drawings with another colleague
- Think about renting office furniture – If you are not sure about a city however want to test the market with a satellite office you may opt for a shorter lease or sublease. If that is the case then renting office furniture would be ideal. No matter how long a company has been in business they all have to manage their cash flow. There is always going to be an element of uncertainty when making long range projections. Furniture rentals can help minimize this uncertainty and give you flexibility when your projections change. You also won't have to pay to store or move unneeded furniture.
- Rent collaborative & active furniture – For your mobile employees think about using huddle tables, teaming stations, etc that will let your employees be productive and active.
- Lease term – If this is your first time having an office in a new city then you might want to focus on office buildings that will allow tenants to sign short term leases or look for office subleases. That way if things don't work out you are not stuck with lease payments.
- Think about your current and future growth needs – A company leader must constantly keep a pulse on the market to be able to make short and long range projections about the amount of office space is needed. Having a good tenant representative that keeps you updated and educated can save you a great deal of time. If you business is stable and the future is probably then find a building that can accommodate your space needs now but also negotiate the option to expand.
- Consider your workforce when choosing a location – You want your satellite office to be successful so lease office space in an area where your ideal talent pool is. Look at demographics of certain areas and pick the ones where you will have no problem finding quality employees with great talents. The same goes for any existing employees. Make getting to and from work easy for them. Trust me, they will be much happier if you think about their needs.
- Ensure the office buildings are equipped with technology – Not all buildings are created equal. Some are newer Class A office buildings with all the bells and whistles, while others are older class C buildings that don't provide tenants the technology they need. Make sure to investigate each and ensure they have the services necessary to support your business.
- Think about your culture and branding – You may want to maintain the same culture in your satellite office as your corporate office however keep in mind cultures can be different between regions. Things are not going to be exactly the same in California as they are in Austin, Tx. Maybe shoot for 75% to 85%. You want to keep the same company core values however don't stress yourself trying to duplicate everything. Consistent branding is key however as you want your satellite office to be seen as an extension of the corporate office.
If you need help finding a satellite office in Austin, Tx or are planning on having one in the next 6-12 months give us a call.