If you ask most businesses what they look for in a landlord, they will point to affordability, flexibility, growth potential and location.
But Lisa Smith always had a unique vision for the Offices at Spenryn, one that better reflected the needs of twenty-first century small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs. It was an environment that could be customized to the diverse needs of the individual business owner, without sacrificing the amenities of a traditional office building.
Lisa set her sights on offering her tenants more benefits; better cost efficiency; fewer limitations; multiple, customized options and a convenient location in the heart of downtown Madison.
Lisa’s career came full circle five years ago when she put aside a 26-year nursing and medical marketing career, bought the building on Spenryn Drive in Madison, and took a shot at business and commercial leasing.
But it would be different from most traditional and even more contemporary collaborative workspace environments.
Three years before COVID sent start-up companies back into their homes where after two years, they had time to reassess the cost efficiency of traditional office space with their long, profit-smothering leases; three years before small businesses realized much of their work could be done remotely; and three years before entrepreneurs began driving the work environment away from expensive high-rises with their endless maze of hallways and seas of impersonal padded cubicles; three years before any of that – Lisa was envisioning virtual work environments.
She saw entrepreneurs preferring to work out of their homes and doing it well, but it was not without some pitfalls. They needed somewhere to meet with clients outside the home. Noisy coffee shops and internet cafes offer free public WiFi but the connections are dangerously insecure, especially in a city that specializes in highly sensitive information.
Companies needed a physical address where they could receive mail and packages without revealing their home address. And many companies needed a place they could hold business meetings, training classes, and demonstrations of their products and services.
There are some collaborative workspaces in Huntsville and Madison, but none that offer a virtual environment option along with the amenities.
Lisa’s instincts about the changing workplace environment were certainly opportune and perhaps even serendipitous with the coming of the pandemic, but it did not stop her from scooping up these needs and offering a solution to all of them.
After more than two years of a global pandemic, Lisa’s Offices at Spenryn has not lost a single tenant, and in fact, she has picked up scores of new clients.
Lisa believes her secret sauce is the a la carte options she offers for leasing.
“I am able to accommodate the client who says to me, ‘I need an office I can come to for three hours on Tuesday and four hours on Thursday, and I need a conference room and training room available when I need it.’”
Check. The conference room and training rooms schedules are posted on her website and available to reserve online.
“I am also able to accommodate a client who works from home but doesn’t want their clients to know it. They want an office where they can meet with their client, provide beverages and a kitchen where they can even serve a meal or snacks.”
The Offices at Spenryn provides a clean, convenient, safe environment with a bundle of fiber, your own personal WiFi and digital key card access for security.
“Some virtual clients only need a physical address where they can have mail and packages delivered so their clients never know they are working from home,” Lisa explains. “I don’t know of anyone else who offers these things.”
She also provides something no other landlord we know of can offer and that is Lisa’s “gift” for connecting people.
Having longstanding relationships and business connections reaching back over 35 years throughout the community, Lisa adds a little extra to her role as landlord.
Do you need a referral on a tax accountant, an IT professional, a business coach or even on a good roofer, hairstylist or plumber?
“I enjoy connecting people,” she said. “I sold radio advertising for a nonprofit radio station for 10 years and I understand the importance of networking and knowing people. When a tenant is starting up a business, they have a lot of needs like an attorney, a CPA, a social media specialist, a website developer, a printer, etc.”
“When someone says to me, ‘I really need a graphic designer to design my logo; I need a writer to write my website or brochure,’ it comes natural to me to respond with reputable referrals in those areas. It always comes back around when you do that.”
How, with over 25 years in the medical field can she be such a visionary when it comes to basic business; a great networker who can connect you with the other resources you need to succeed?
“Both of my parents were entrepreneurs who owned a small business in Huntsville. I have always had a business side hustle, even as a nurse, and I had experience in medical marketing,” Lisa said. “It seems odd to me now that I have come full circle back to supporting small business, that it is as if it was always where I was supposed to be.
She said it also pays to know a lot of people.
“We have a great highly intelligent, very motivated working community who take care of their customers, so I want to take care of them.”
“I am really happy with what we have built,” she continued. “We have 10,000 square feet and all our fulltime offices are filled. I can bring on another 100 virtual tenants without blinking, and if I want to expand, although we do not have any plans to do so, there is an empty lot right next door!”