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When it comes to small businesses there is a lot to be said for collaboration says Tessa Keeling of property management company Quinovic.
Keeling occupies a 100 square metre, corner office above Rangiora’s Conway Lane that she shares with mortgage adviser Maria Thackwell and accountant Raelene Rees. The three women have retained their individual business identities but also come together under the Connect North Canterbury umbrella – “it’s the power of three” says Keeling.
It was a chance conversation at an ENC networking event around three years ago that sparked things off. “I was chatting to Maria [Thackwell] about how I would love to have office space out here but the practicalities and cost and so on meant it wasn’t possible. Maria felt the same and from there we got Raelene involved”.
As Rangiora got back on its feet the prospect of being based out here became even more attractive. “There was no defining moment but once Conway Lane was built and Farmers re-opened, there was a general sense that Rangiora was buzzing and it was very positive” says Keeling.
The three soon found their current space, for which they were prepared to sign a longer lease than they would have individually. It was a one office space which they have been able to make into something that suits them with individual desks, a shared area and private meeting rooms.
Getting together as a group has definite practical benefits in terms of costs and other operational issues such as keeping the office staffed. And, with the obvious synergies between their businesses there are also advantages for clients says Keeling.
But it’s the less tangible benefits that are also really important.
“This is quite deliberately one office as opposed to separate adjoining spaces and this collective approach is more convenient from a client point of view as they can engage with one, or some or all of us under one roof. But it also gives us an additional credibility working together, it’s a dynamic approach and it’s really beneficial” says Keeling.
The Connect North Canterbury business owners have worked “exceptionally well” together says Keeling, each with their own strengths that have fallen readily into place. But she has this advice for others looking at a similar set-up.
“You need to have that trust that whoever you’re sharing office space with is going to ‘fly your flag’ for you”.