FLEXIBLE OFFICE SPACE, WITH HOSPITALITY
At its best, Carr Workplaces supports its clients so well that they outgrow Carr’s services.
One client at Carr, says SVP of sales and operations Ashley Korner, started out with one of the company’s simplest offerings: a virtual mailing address. Then, the client’s business grew and they signed on for a “virtual office,” which is essentially rented office space used for just 16 hours a month. Business grew again, and the client turned to Carr for full-time office space. Then, Carr signed on to provide phone answering and other administrative support. Then, the client’s company got so big, it was able to get its own headquarters and hire permanent administrative staff.
And Carr, Korner explains, is entirely happy with this progression. The company is pleased to see its clients grow to the point where they don’t need office space or administrative support — though Carr’s newest vertical includes expanded technology support offerings so it can keep serving even those clients that outgrow its other offerings.
With 125 employees and its headquarters in Washington, DC, Carr owns and operates executive office spaces around the country, including New York, Chicago, Florida and California. The company caters primarily to entrepreneurs who need workspace, whether it’s general office space or executive suites, but it also serves corporations.
“We focus on bringing big support services to a little company,” says CEO Austin Flajser. “But that’s also translatable to that big company that has a little outpost or needs some flexible solution that we can offer.”
Carr has grown in recent years, and that has meant putting processes in place to ensure its culture of providing great customer service didn’t go by the wayside.
“You can’t fake great service,” says Flajser. “You either have that in your culture or your processes or you don’t. So that’s a part of building up our employees and giving them the tools they need to succeed and be able to deliver that. It’s also driving everything from the customer’s perspective, making sure our end goal is always benefitting them and the services they most need to be able to succeed as a business — that’s what we’re all about.”
Korner notes that one process the company has honed carefully is the new client onboarding process. “That’s the time to really say, ‘this is what Carr is all about. This is what you’re going to experience while you’re here,’” she says. “So we spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to onboard a client. Developing the process is just the first step.”
Carr uses intra-company task forces to develop and test such processes, and a full-time trainer helps to propagate and maintain them. Flajser notes that the company is operationally focused, so any new process or new technology is measured against whether it can scale — and work well — out in the field.
Carr also likes to get direct feedback from its clients. “We like to over-communicate,” says Korner. Every new employee, regardless of his or her background, gets hospitality training. “The key point,” she says, “is if there’s a challenge, if there’s a failure, make sure you are communicating to the client.” When a problem arises, Carr has formal processes in place to make sure people follow up with the client about it at regular intervals for months.
This customer-service mindset comes from Carr’s background in the hospitality industry (Carr Hospitality is another division of the same company). Flajser says this gives Carr an advantage in the flexible workspace market. “A lot of us come from the hotel industry, and in the hotel industry, you have more customer loyalty from people who had a problem and you responded to it, and solved it satisfactorily, than the people who never had a problem to begin with. So we’re not afraid of issues coming up. We have redundancies and processes in place that allow us to exceed expectations when that happens. So really, it’s up front, making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place, but also not forgetting about the fact that things are going to happen, and we have the right plans and processes to deal with that and turn that into a win for us as a company.”
Photos (L to R): Top row: Austin Flajser, CEO; Ashley Korner, SVP, Sales and Operations; Phil Carr, SVP, Development; Keith Varner, Controller. Bottom row: Wendy Matney, VP, Marketing; Annie Rinker, VP, Services; Rob Trainor, Director of IT; Lindsey Morrison, Director of HR