By Dr. Nirmal De Silva
As the popular saying goes, “Location is everything” and the latest research carried out by Regus – the global workplace provider – has highlighted the importance of physical proximity to customers for businesses. The finding goes on to state that locations closer to customers bring bumper benefits ranging from increased visibility to more sales.
A study, canvassing over 44,000 people from more than 100 different countries, reveals that operating out of locations closer to their customers helps firms resolve issues faster (74%) while 71% say customer proximity improves customer satisfaction and retention rates.
In Sri Lanka, where Colombo is known to be the main business hub, the same rules apply. Given the challenges posed by increased vehicular congestion due to morning rush hour, afternoon school traffic and evening rush hour, customers have a tendency to prefer to work with businesses that are closer to their offices. Such proximity creates a more positive impact of the business in the minds of the customer due to the key benefit it provides – the ability to travel to the business’ office quickly for meetings, presentations and projects. This result in minimum time wasted on the road, giving both parties more time to focus on their core business.
Taking the local country situation, Regus Business Centres are spread across prime locations in Colombo and immediate suburbs. The five locations include the World Trade Centre (WTC) in Fort, GPD Building on Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, McLaren’s Building on Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 4, Lotus Building on Nawala Road, Nawala and Bernard’s Business Park on Dutugemunu Street, Dehiwela offering any customer to experience flexible working throughout different locations enabling the ease of access for any number of employees from their residences, minimizing the stress of travelling which inevitably would help work productivity. Regus has identified this correlation as has introduced multiple workspaces to address this growing need in the present corporate world.
Additionally, 63% of respondents also believe that firms with local offices understand customers and markets better as they are steeped in the local culture and therefore have a better grasp of the intricacies of the market. Being in the same area as potential customers improves market knowledge as specific local information can be used for product development and more effective marketing.
Other key global findings include:
- 67% of firms say a physical location closer to customers helps boost sales;
- 40% say they are able to develop better products and 46% that they are able to strike better deals with suppliers;
- 74% of respondents confirm that proximity increases visibility;
- Firms with satellite offices benefit attracting and retaining top local talent (64%) and understand customers and markets better (63%).
Setting up in locations closer to customers or prospects can bring significant benefits to both businesses and customers. For instance, firms are able to respond faster when there is a problem, and get it resolved immediately. As a result, improved customer care leads to happier customers and better retention rates. By setting up locations closer to customers, firms not only increase visibility, but also gain a clearer view of their markets. A deeper understanding of the local environment can also lead to improved marketing effectiveness. Businesses can also benefit when it comes to staff recruitment. Branching out can also help widen the talent pool as businesses are able to attract staff in different areas and therefore capitalise on their knowledge and experience.
Founded in Brussels, Belgium, in 1989, Regus is the global workplace provider based in Luxembourg and listed on the London Stock Exchange. Regus’ network of more than 2,500 business centres in 900 cities and 106 countries provides convenient, high-quality, fully serviced spaces for people to work, whether for a few minutes or a few years.
The writer, a business professional with more than 15 years senior management experience in the Asia Pacific region, is currently the Country Manager for Regus Sri Lanka, the local arm of the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace.