Office Space » Shared Offices Hit the Right Note for International Music Firm

Shared Offices Hit the Right Note for International Music Firm

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Shared offices come with a variety of perks – a full suite of amenities, on-site support staff and a central location, to name a few – but one of the biggest benefits isn’t something you’ll find on a center’s list of provided services.

By bringing together individuals from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, collaborative offices provide business owners with a unique, one-of-a-kind professional network that’s difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a typical office environment. It was this camaraderie that struck a chord with James Lenger, founder of Chicago-based Guitar Cities, which provides music lessons to students of all ages and skill levels.

Lenger started his business nearly a decade ago, when he split his time between Michigan and Chicago. Rather than paying for his own studio, he rented space in 2006 at Amata’s shared office center at 150 N. Michigan Ave., which made his business accessible to downtown Chicago office workers, many of whom would schedule lessons either before or after work, or during their lunch hour.

“These are people who are escaping from their office to come here,” says Lenger. “They can pop in, take a lesson and go back to work.”

In addition to targeting workers in neighboring office towers, Lenger saw opportunity on his own floor, providing lessons to some of his fellow shared office tenants.

“When other tenants learned about our business, they were intrigued,” said Lenger, whose company has given lessons to nearly 20 other Amata clients over the years. (Guitar Cities uses electric instruments and headphones during business hours to control the sound.) The firm has also benefitted from referrals, both from those who have taken lessons, as well as Amata staff.

In addition, Lenger’s company has partnered directly with other Amata clients like the Israel Idonije Foundation, a Chicago-based non-profit founded by NFL defensive end Israel “Izzy” Idonije that provides youth programming to children in underserved communities. Lenger and Idonije regularly team up to promote Guitar Cities’ student concerts at the House of Blues, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Idonije’s foundation.

Lenger says his success in Chicago has made it possible for his company to expand nationally and internationally to New York, San Francisco and London. In each city, the firm is located in a shared office center in a major financial district. The fiber-optic high-speed internet service at Amata also allows Guitar Cities to offer lessons online via Skype to virtually any location in the world.

Aside from the financial predictability afforded by the shared office environment – there’s a “definitive price” and “no guessing what bills will be in a particular month,” says Lenger – Guitar Cities has also benefitted from the customer service provided to its students by Amata employees.

“It’s nice to have someone there who can greet them and direct them where to go, and our students have really gotten to know the staff,” said Lenger. “It’s an easy way to handle our clients.”

As Lenger leads the company’s expansion into new markets, he’s also planning to open a second location in Chicago at – where else? – another Amata center, this time in the West Loop.