Over the last two years I’ve become a believer in the necessity of having a brick-and-mortar office. Now, the cost and commitment of a lease can scare off a firm owner, especially in a cyclical business like ours. It certainly scared me for a while.
Many consultants are still remote during COVID, and wonder if going back into a building full time is necessary. I’m solidly in the yes camp. Not just in a hybrid arrangement, but fully back working out of a shared space. In fact, that was an achievement of ours before the pandemic.
The first office of our firm was a desk in a guest bedroom. The second was my garage with a swamp cooler and a couple of desks, and the third office was a run-down, two-room pit by the airport, which cost me $500 per month in rent.
When we moved to our most recent previous headquarters, I told our managing director that it was too much space, too expensive, and we would never fill it all up. Three years later, after packing two people to a desk for the last several months, we’ve doubled the size of our headquarters again.
Five years since the garage, now with offices in several states, and over $100,000 per year in leasing costs, I would tell you the brick-and-mortar office is essential and invaluable to any firm of more than one. Here’s why:
1. Faster rapid response.
In the political world, everything from countering an attack ad, releasing a new endorsement or responding to a press story, requires speed. When we need to respond for one of our clients, I want to go talk to the team member I need to work with, not email five people to schedule a Zoom.
2. Improved time management.
While a lot can be done by Zoom now, big meetings normally happen in-person. Five years ago, during the garage office days, I spent hours per day driving to meet with clients or vendors at Starbucks, restaurants, etc. If I’m in a city where we have an office, I almost never take a meeting out of the office if I can avoid it. The time between meetings can be five minutes instead of 45.
3. Provide more utility for your clients.
Need a place to make fundraising phone calls? Come sit with your fundraising associate in our office and work side by side. Need a place to meet with a big donor? Come use our conference room. Need to film a quick social media video? Our new headquarters has an in-house studio.
4. I’m selling my clients a team.
When you retain us, you’re not retaining me. You’re retaining 19 people. Finance associates to help with your major donor calls, artists to design your mail, email marketing specialists to help digital fundraising, etc. My value, my proposition to a client is that we’ve already built your team — and we’re ready to put it to work for you. Clients who buy our vision want to see a team.
But the most crucial reason to have an office is because, in our business, your co-workers become like a family. And in the thick of political battle, that camaraderie is what makes you better, and gets you through. Camaraderie happens when people are together.
A sports team has a locker room, a gym, a practice field, and a home field. Why? They could just all work out separately and show up on game day to play.
A whole team is greater than the sum of its parts. A team pushes each other, motivates each other, inspires each other — a good political team needs a home field too.
Rory McShane is a Republican political consultant and the founder of McShane LLC, a media and strategy firm with offices in Las Vegas, NV, Austin, TX, Washington, DC, and additional staff in Dallas TX, and Colorado.