Meet experienced franchisee John Schmidt, whose partnership with the brand is seeing flexspace grow in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the US
In 1992, private equity investor John Schmidt needed a flexible office space in Philadelphia. As soon as he walked into HQ Philadelphia Market Street (one of IWG’s operating brands), he immediately felt welcome and knew he’d found a home from home for his Detroit-based firm.
Subsequently, whenever and wherever Schmidt travelled in the US and beyond, he would seek out business centres operated by IWG brands, and was always impressed by the facilities and high level of service he found in each one.
Then, in 2017, his company, Megatron Inc., was looking for office space in the Dominican Republic. So, when he heard IWG wanted to open its first centre there, he jumped at the chance to get involved as an IWG franchise partner. Not only was it a great business opportunity, but he’d also have a high-quality workspace for his own firm.
Regus Roble Corporate Centre opened in July 2019 in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, with Schmidt’s company running the new site for IWG, licensing the name and operating it on the company’s behalf. Sharing the property with the new five-star InterContinental Hotel, it’s the most technologically advanced building in the country.
A trusted partner
Schmidt says the main reason for choosing IWG over other potential franchise partners was due to its prestige as a business that was founded 30 years ago and that now boasts 3,500 centres around the world. He felt safe in the knowledge that his capital was protected and that, unlike newer flexspace providers, IWG would be around for many years to come.
“IWG is always ahead of the curve,” he says. “As well as the top management quality, the overall vision of founder and CEO Mark Dixon about where the business is going puts it five steps ahead of anybody else.
“Any investment capital that we have with IWG goes straight into plans for the future – one, two, three, four, five years down the road – while most of the competitors in the space are just trying to stay alive and relevant. We trust that the guys at the helm, at IWG, are making the right decisions for our money.”
Growing in style
Plans to open more centres in the Dominican Republic are already in progress. Schmidt says three more will open there by the end of 2021. In Puerto Rico, he says four will open by the end of next year. While in the USA they are picking up Michigan, where he will have seven to 10 new centres within five years.
He explains that the most important thing when choosing the right building and location for a new centre is the “story behind them”. “We want to make sure that we’re delivering an A-class product to the customers,” he says. “We are always looking to differentiate the product offered in these areas and we stay away from anything generic. It has to meet all the basic requirements, but it needs to go one step further and set us apart from the rest.”
To do this in Puerto Rico, Schmidt is seeking to expand in an area that is a centre of cultural, commercial and business activity. In Michigan, he is looking at taking over an architecturally beautiful bank with features from the 1920s.
Schmidt – whose involvement with the franchise mainly consists of overseeing expansion plans, models and projections – says the best thing about owning a franchise in the flexspace industry is seeing businesses succeed and “knowing that you have played a part in helping them get there, whether it was just providing them with the space, or helping them with the services within the office.”
The sky’s the limit
Schmidt says his future plans for the franchise are focused on the growing trend of businesses downsizing from large city centre offices, and opening smaller more flexible solutions in the suburbs, meeting the demand for a hybrid model for their workers.
“You have an unlimited opportunity here to grow, because every corporation is looking at doing this,” he explains. “We’re looking at 8-15,000sq ft centres that are more than 80% occupied – mostly suburban areas that are growing. We have to expand in those markets where we are seeing a demand and where we know we can grow our centres and provide an excellent product for our customers to succeed.”
Despite the huge amount of growth in the sector, he says becoming an IWG franchise partner is best suited to investors with a high level of experience.
“It’s for a sophisticated investor, most likely with a corporate background, who understands that you have an enormous upside potential here,” he explains. “It does require a lot of work and a lot of capital, but you are going to succeed. It’s going to be very fulfilling, you’re going to enjoy it, and you’ll have an amazing amount of support from IWG.”
Are you ready to come on board as an IWG franchise partner? Find out more about IWG’s franchising partnerships today