As a small business, simply having a building in which to conduct your business is a huge benefit to your growth and sustained success. If you’re sharing your building with one or more other businesses, though, learning how to share nicely can also be a big determining factor of your success in the space. Plan for small disagreements in advance by following these tips, and you’ll not only enjoy your space more, but find you are able to appreciate and utilize the services of the companies you share the space with more than you realized was possible.
Find Out What Their Needs Are
Empathy, even for a business, is a great quality to have. It’s hard to have empathy, however, if you don’t know the situation of the other parties involved. That’s why it’s important to talk to the people involved with the other businesses in your location and find out what you can do to help them be successful. For example, if one of the other businesses involves consultations with clients and they need a quiet atmosphere, ask if your operations create too much noise for them to be able to conduct business. If they do, work together with the other business to find ways to mitigate your sound levels without effecting your operations, and create a better atmosphere for their operations.
Figure Out Who’s Responsible When Something Goes Wrong
Depending on the lease/ownership arrangement of the building your business occupies, different parties may be responsible when different things go wrong. Of course, this isn’t referring to a true emergency that occurs, more like pressing maintenance issues that need to be addressed, including a snow-covered parking lot, a backed-up drain, or a leaky roof. These types of issues, which effect each business in the building, need to be addressed instead of ignored.
For a clogged pipe, for instance, decide which of the businesses is going to call a plumbing company to take care of the problem. Decide which business will be responsible for showing the plumber around and then speaking with the plumber upon the conclusion of his work. If you have these details worked out in advance, it will result in much less loss of work for everyone else working in the building. You might also discover that someone working at another business is especially handy, which can help address any issues that arise while you wait for the professionals to arrive.
Refer Customers to Each Other
So long as the other businesses in your building aren’t in a competing industry, it’s perfectly acceptable to engender trust and respect by referring customers to your building-mates. You could offer a small discount to customers who have been referred by the other companies, or even offer packages if the other businesses are in complementary industries. Plus, even if you don’t offer customers a percentage discount, you could extend a discount to employees from the other companies in the building as a way of building camaraderie and increasing word-of-mouth advertising.
Respect the Dumpster
There is, perhaps, no single act that will cause the other companies in your building to dislike your company more than to misuse any dumpsters that are on-site. Whether each business has its own dumpster or there is a shared dumpster for all businesses, be careful to only use your fair share, and especially to avoid using other companies’ dumpsters if yours is full. Of course, if you have taken time to build up trust and camaraderie, then you may be able to ask them, on rare occasions, to use their dumpster. If you haven’t worked on this, though, don’t even bother asking, and just keep your extra trash somewhere else.
Enjoy the Moment
For many businesses, sharing a building with other companies isn’t the most ideal situation. However, you can make the most of the situation by utilizing the other companies’ strengths to strengthen your own business, as well. By working through the challenges that arise, you’ll be able to someday look back on this period of growth and appreciate it for the truly stretching and developing time that it was.