David and Carol Whitinger currently own and operate an Office Evolution in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s an exciting time to live in Ann Arbor with all the automotive and autonomous vehicle advancement and Dave and Carol are excited to have a location in such a unique area.
Carol works at the University of Michigan as a Lab Manager, and she's conducted research for the Biotech industry for 30 years. I’m a former Coast Guardsman and I’ve been in sales with an automotive specialty for almost as long. Carol has strong technical aptitude skills while I have an extensive sales and marketing background, which helps us as franchise owners.
Part of the reason we’re in this business is because I’ve been a remote employee for 30 years and I understand the need for the Office Evolution business model. Also, Carol and I aren’t ready to retire or stop working any time soon, so we wanted to find a business that we would both enjoy, and I always like the entrepreneurial community.
Another reason we really like Office Evolution is because they offer a built-in mentorship component to their business model. Another franchise might tell you to find a good mentor, but Office Evolution provides the coaches and mentors from the very beginning to help you succeed.
Deciding Who to hire as your Business Center Manager is the single most important decision that you’ll make as an Office Evolution franchise owner as they are the face of the company, more so than yourself.
Our Business Center Manager, Andrea Hernandez-Morales, is very friendly and a natural salesperson. Andrea has a great set of organizational skills and sees the value of the business model.
When we interviewed Andrea, she said she likes the stability of an 8-5 job and doesn’t want to have to travel for work. A lot of things about this job appealed to her and it worked out well because she does a fantastic job and is an important administrative asset for our members and their businesses.
Our members are incredibly diverse. We have structural engineers working on important construction projects, a software startup company, business consultants, an advertising agency that does everything from social media management to videos and photography, electrical and mechanical surveyors, a cloud computing support company, a high-tech automotive company, lawyers, IT support people, a LinkedIn consultant/guru, and so many more talented members.
The LinkedIn guru and advertising agent are very cohesive and extroverted people. We enjoy having them around the center because they help bring people together.
Ann Arbor is a tech corridor that’s focused on the automotive and biotech industries. We have the autonomous vehicle research center at the University of Michigan, where they create vehicles that drive themselves. It’s a unique time to be here, in that you’re seeing the rise of these autonomous and electric vehicle companies. We also live in a university town, so it’s a vibrant atmosphere. The whole place has a crazy dynamic.
As for the location of our office, we’re on the top floor of a three-story building with a lot of windows and natural light. We’ve received many compliments about the ‘feel’ of our space.
We followed the Office Evolution's formula to a tee. If anything, we might have expanded on the ideas a little bit, but not much. We figured Mark Hemmeter, the Founder, and CEO of Office Evolution, has a system put together for a reason, so we didn’t question it and it worked quite well.
My other philosophy for success is to keep people walking through the center. It’s hard to give an elevator pitch for this type of business because people can’t imagine what the place looks like. So, we encourage members to have their networking events in our conference rooms to bring people in.
Additionally, we work with local charities and offer to host charity events at our location. We like to be involved in the community and two hours of donated conference room time can go a long way. I think several people are now members because they came to a charity or local networking event.
Take the time to hire the right Business Center Manager! Other advice I can give would be, don't think you understand ahead of time whom your customers are going to be because you really don’t know. Remember, you can’t sell to everybody and some people just aren’t a good fit for the center. Market your business well and a lot of customers will come to you.