Yesterday, I wrapped up a one-month consulting position with San Francisco-based 42Floors.com. As a tenant rep advisor that’s passionate about commercial real estate and technology, I jumped at the opportunity to join the team and get a feel for what it’s like to work within a fast paced startup in the midst of SoMa’s exciting technology boom.
In a nutshell, 42Floors is a free search engine for office listings in San Francisco and New York, wrapped up in a gorgeous user interface. The model itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking, except for the fact that their current focus is not on monetization, but on creating the absolute best user experience possible.
Here’s how it works. The user searches active office space listings and when they find something they like, they submit their contact information and the handoff is made to the listing broker, who then follows up with them to schedule a tour of the space. Nothing revolutionary there. Where 42Floors really sets itself apart, however, is with their Concierge; a human being that uses a telephone to actually call you. How many companies actually do that anymore, and for free? Their only task is to make sure you’re happy, answer questions about the market and commercial real estate, and ultimately, that you’re successful in finding your new office space online through their website.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other great features that elevate the user experience, like robust filtering options, photo-intensive listings and rental estimates for properties that don’t publish their asking rents, but the Concierge addresses a gaping hole in the online listing arena: tenants not only need but deservethe advice of an expert that’s looking out for their interests. This is something that gets lost when a tenant uses the internet to find an office space online and then cuts a direct deal with the landlord without being represented by an advisor. With 42Floors Concierge, the tenant can receive guidance and assistance from a professional they can trust.
My big takeaway from my experience with helping 42Floors develop their concierge program, is that tenants will always need a human advocate, and 42Floors understands that.
Just like WebMD.com will never replace the role of the doctor, 42Floors.com will never replace the role of the tenant advisor – they exist to enhance and compliment the process, be it a trip to the hospital or signing a new office lease.