Coworking Influencer

Michael Braun is on a mission to empower coworking operators

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Michael Braun's passion for coworking spaces and his journey to launching Archive began when he was a member himself, joining various workplaces as a student to network and work on personal projects. "I loved being in that ecosystem," he recalled. "I liked being around other people that were working on projects. There was always a certain energy there, and obviously, amenities that were helpful to take advantage of."

MB-3345The atmosphere and design of coworking spaces intrigued Michael, igniting his interest in the industry. In 2016, he joined Bond Collective, quickly growing into roles on the corporate team that allowed him to manage sales teams, develop customer relationship management (CRM) and member management systems, and solve enterprise-level solutions for larger teams.

His latest venture, Archive, is the culmination of 10 years of industry experience: a sales operations consultancy and remote account management agency for coworking spaces that helps optimize their tech stack, increase their occupancy, and promote their visibility to other operators.

A focus on community-driven design

Throughout his time at Bond Collective, Michael quickly learned that any processes or changes need to align with the needs and workflows of the community teams on the ground and the members themselves. .. "That's something that's very important to me," he explained. "We're not just creating something that might fall into redundancy a week later or that's too big to use, they should become assets for team members at every level."

Michael emphasized the importance of making systems accessible while maintaining robust features. His approach centers on understanding the community's needs from the tech they use. "When going into a new client's space, we say, “Okay, we have a team that brought us on to make sure that they can accomplish key goals with their CRM. .. But I also want to be connected to some of their community team members to understand their process day-to-day. How are they using their current systems, and what do they think should be changed or improved?'"

Navigating the CRM Landscape

Reflecting on the coworking industry's adoption of CRM technology, Michael acknowledged the challenges operators face in assessing their value and capabilities. "I think you have this tug-of-war between 'We want a system that can do everything' and 'We need a few systems that can do what they’re supposed to be good at really well,'" he said. “The intent is to really meet these operators where they are, whether that’s improving existing systems, finding new ones, or changing how they’re used entirely.”

Michael has extensive experience working with various CRM platforms, including Active Campaign, Salesforce, Yardi, and his preferred platform for at least the CRM side of coworking, HubSpot. He emphasized the importance of finding the right fit for each operator's needs while ensuring seamless integration with member management software. “Once you’ve selected a system to use, invest in it. Spend the time to understand how each team will use it moving forward, and make sure your expectations are aligned with what you want the system to do versus what it can do in its current state.”

Empowering community teams

At Archive, Michael and his colleagues also aim to alleviate the burden on community teams by offering sales staffing support. "There is a lot of responsibility put on them to make sure that  the spaces are running smoothly, but they're very often the primary point of contact for sales as well," Braun explained.

By providing a dedicated staffing arm, Archive enables community teams to focus on core community responsibilities, while entrusting sales and operational tasks to experienced folks whose sole focus is on that silo. "It's really allowing them to step back, take some of it off of their plates, and get more time back in their day by entrusting us with sales. We have really run the gamut of those sales experiences, and understand their members  and the industry very well," Braun said.

Tailoring solutions for growth

Michael emphasized the importance of understanding each client's unique needs and growth. Archive's primary clientele consists of operators with between two and ten locations, as they often have established infrastructures and CRMs in place, but require assistance in scaling their systems and teams effectively.

"By the time they’ve reached that level of growth, you really have to take a look at your systems before it’s too late or too expensive to make changes. Are they set up to accommodate the amount of traffic you have coming in? How are your processes changing when your portfolio continues to grow? How are you leveraging automations and campaigns to make sure your team can stay afloat?" Braun explained. "You also need that level of care that informs how this communication changes from place to place between locations, and how changes are impacting community teams using these systems."

Optimizing spaces for enterprise clients

In addition to CRM and staffing support, Archive offers selective optimization services for operators who want to serve enterprise-level clients. Braun and his team analyze existing floor plans, identifying opportunities for rearranging and optimizing layouts to accommodate larger groups — while ensuring long-term resale value.

"Especially on the enterprise side, you have a lot of requirements that are typically one to three years," Braun noted. "They might want to take large portions of a floor plan and create their own in-office culture and atmosphere, while still being able to take advantage of the benefits that coworking brings. You want to be able to accommodate larger groups in a way that preserves the integrity of the space, and doesn’t leave your sales and community teams wondering if it was worth it."

Reimagining "churn" as opportunities for growth

One of Braun’s most intriguing initiatives is the creation of a referral network among coworking operators. "I think the dirty word in coworking is 'churn.’ We don't want to talk publicly about folks leaving, we don't want to talk about not being able to accommodate tours coming in, or spaces closing, or teams growing too large or too small," he said.

However, he sees an opportunity to continue relationships with members, even as their needs evolve. "Instead of saying, 'thank you for your time here, it was great to be able to accommodate,' and letting the conversation end there, it's becomes, 'Okay, let me connect you with the Archive team, we’ll find you some options with other operators that might be a better fit or that might be in other markets you're expanding into, so that we can continue to be of service to your team.’

Braun hopes that by incentivizing operators to refer their members facing growth or change, Archive creates a self-sustaining referral network. “We’re going to spaces around the country, and having very honest conversations. We want to help you create additional revenue streams from members growing or changing, in a way that stays true to your brand and helps us serve as an extension of the hospitality your members know and expect. Churn and change is something that each operator deals with, so let’s work together to make that transition as painless as possible for members.”

By fostering a network of spaces that can collaborate and refer members to one another, Braun aims to create an ecosystem that celebrates growth and serves clients through every stage of their journey.

The essence of hospitality

At the core of Braun's approach is a deep commitment to hospitality and creating exceptional experiences for coworking members. "If operators want to best serve their members, they need to be receptive to feedback. Be nimble with what you're offering, and understand the needs and wants of the members coming in," he emphasized.

Braun believes that the best coworking experience feels effortless and welcoming, akin to moving into a new home. "We want it to be easy. We want to be transparent.We’re all working with the goal of providing the best possible service for our members and teams, so how do we create that bridge between what the member expects and what the operator can provide?”

Building a catalog of solutions

Recognizing the value of collaboration and shared knowledge, Braun is actively compiling a catalog of recommended tools and resources for coworking operators. “We want operators to have a sort of playbook that they can use as they continue to grow their occupancy and their portfolios. Regardless of whether they work with us directly, we want to help remove some of the mystery behind what works, provide strategies or tools they can employ quickly, and add value to them and their members.”

This initiative aligns with the spirit of Coworks, a space management software company dedicated to empowering coworking operators. By fostering connections and sharing expertise, both Archive and Coworks aim to contribute to the growth and success of the coworking industry.

As the industry continues to evolve, Michael Braun and the team at Archive remain committed to supporting coworking operators, optimizing their spaces, and creating exceptional experiences for members. Through innovative solutions, collaborative networks, and a deep understanding of the coworking ecosystem, they are paving the way for a future where coworking spaces thrive as vibrant hubs of community, creativity, and growth.

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