GKRE’s new consultant Tara Siddons-Deighton has seen the growth of the serviced office industry first hand having worked in it for the past 20 years. Now acting as a consultant to landlords and operators, we spoke to Tara about her role adding value to centres and the challenges they face.
GKRE: Hi Tara, welcome to GKRE. Tell us about the services you offer.
TSD: Thank you, I’m looking forward to being part of the team.
I work as a consultant to operators of all sizes across the industry. When I start working with an operator I look at all aspects: operations, billing, sales and marketing, staffing, pricing, competitor information, accounts. It’s a health check that identifies the areas that need investigation, which ones are working well, what can be done to improve revenue and therefore the value of the business. I’ll plan how these changes can be put in place and how long it will take. My ultimate aim is to add value to the operator’s balance sheet.
I also advise landlords who are new to the sector on how to set up new centres within their buildings.
GKRE: How often do you visit a centre you are working with?
TSD: That depends on the size of the centre and what investigation is needed. I would usually shadow some of the staff, especially on the sales process and help them implement my recommendations. A large part is often staff training (or recruitment) which means initially I need to be present at the centre working with the team and the clients.
Having been round many centres during my career the actual sales process is often one of the biggest areas that can do with improvement. As soon as the results start to be seen this acts as a natural motivator for the team to keep striving for more.
GKRE: You see a lot of operations up close, what are the main challenges operators face?
TSD: There are a few key areas. Staffing is critical. If you have good staff running the building then there is no need to worry about the tenants. The serviced element is often overlooked. Tenants are paying for a service as well as real estate and that service has to be delivered. Once that is achieved, the tenants stay on. Well-run centres have companies that have been with them 10+ years.
The building also needs to meet the needs of the modern occupier: IT and telecoms, fit-out, furniture, security. You can’t change the location but plenty can be done to help accessibility and desirability such as bike racks, car sharing schemes, coffee shops etc.
GKRE: Where do you think the sector is headed over the next 12 months or so?
TSD: It’s going to carry on growing. Occupiers demand more flexibility now and better space and the serviced office sector fulfills this. Co-working is on the rise too – the coffee shop concept of working is growing. But people still need to be within striking distance of printers, photocopiers etc and want their IT and telecoms on tap the minute they move in. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.
GKRE: Can you give us an example of a successful consultancy project you’ve been involved in?
TSD: We had a big centre in Croydon that had gone through many management changes and as a result the building and team were tired. The building was too big to operate successfully as a serviced office, the figures would simply not add up. So we reduced the size of the serviced part and put some of the space into larger managed units.
The building needed quite a bit of work so we implemented a phased refurbishment program that met the needs of the modern day occupier in terms of IT and telecoms, furniture, security and environment. The team needed an overhaul and new team members were bought in to ensure that new standards were maintained. A couple of years on the building maintains a constant occupancy in the high 90s.
GKRE: Thank you Tara and welcome aboard.
If you would like to contact Tara to discuss her consultancy services, please email her at email@example.com or call her on 020 3427 5679
Tara Siddons-Deighton CV in brief:
Graduated in Valuation and Estate Management BSc (Hons)
- Worked for Regus plc straight from university where she was a key member of the team during the company’s growth
- Moved to Harvard Managed Offices in 2000, assisted in setting up Locartis, a global trade mark name for small serviced office providers.
- In 2005, Tara identified a need to bridge the property world and the serviced office world and so founded Siddons-Deighton Consulting, a property consultancy with specific focus on the serviced office industry.