Mara Savina Falstein is the Community and Content Manager for ShareDesk, the largest platform for flexible workplaces with a network of over 5,000 locations spread across 40+ countries. She explores the ever-evolving coworking movement, sharing the stories and voices of ShareDesk's diverse global community.


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Coworking spaces, learn how much you’ve got to gain from creating a relationship with your local coffee shop.


Coffee shop owners can be a great resource for coworking space managers, as you have great potential to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship. Many coworking space managers overlook this opportunity, as they either see coffee shops as their competition or worry that the vice versa is true and that coffee shops will be concerned with coworking spaces trying to steal their business. In reality, many coffee shops welcome a relationship with coworking spaces, as it gives them a way to offload their chronic lurkers. You know the ones, those who come to a coffee shop, buy one cup of coffee, then stay to work for the rest of the day. These types of people take up valuable table space and turning the coffee shop into a digital wasteland of individuals glued to their laptop screens. But those same types of people are perfect candidates for a coworking space.

It’s obviously considered poor taste to infiltrate a coffee shop and try to discretely poach current customers. However, there are a multitude of ways you can cultivate this relationship respectfully. Here’s a few of our favorites:

Leverage word of mouth

The genius is in its simplicity. The simplest form of marketing, have a conversation. Make sure the coffee shop owners and their employees know of your existence, what you offer, and where you’re located. Knowing really is half the battle and can go a long way, as these people are having conversations with your prospective customers all day long.

Buy their beans

If you offer your members coffee in-house, consider setting up a relationship with a specific local coffee roaster to grab a regular supply of beans. Make them your exclusive partner, and you might get a discount on bulk order. This is a great way to start the partnership off on the right foot.

Offer the coffee shop a special promo code

Try giving the coffee shops in your area an exclusive deal. Create a personalized code they can give to their space hoarders and lurkers so they can get a discounted rate on their first drop-in at your coworking space. If you want to up your professionalism, get business cards printed out with the discount code, the coffee shop’s logo, your own logo, and your address. That way, the coffee shop can hand out physical cards so customers won’t forget the information. If you really want to surprise and delight your partners (or further incentivize them), track the number of promo codes used by a certain coffee shop and offer them a “finder’s fee” based on referred customers who go on to become members of your coworking space. Can you say win/win?


Leave your business cards/flyers

Many coffee shops have community bulletin boards, or tables where local businesses and entrepreneurs to leave a business card or a flyer. Since coffee shops are basically filled to the brim with prospective clients, make sure you take this opportunity to offer them knowledge of your existence!

Procure a discount on coffee shop fare

While many coworking spaces offer complimentary coffee, consider trying to grab a discount for your members on specialty coffee drinks (for those members who can’t do without their morning lattes) and food. Because that way, you can: create more of a relationship with your local coffee shops, provide your members with a discount, walk your walk of building a local community, and bring new business to the coffee shop.

Fund their coffee cup to-go sleeves

If you’re still concerned about poaching their customers, consider this avenue. Offer to pay for their to-go sleeves, which you then brand with your coworking space’s info and a cheeky, cryptic message. The coffee shop saves money and you get to advertise directly to their customers who are already on the move.

There’s no reason to be standoffish when it comes to coffee shops. We’ve only scratched the surface of ways in which you can create a fruitful partnership with the coffee shops in your area. What are some of your ideas? We’d love to hear them.