The new platform Configure is changing the way office properties are marketed and promises to streamline the process of office customisation. The platform allows landlords to show potential tenants CGI images of options for furniture, flooring, wall décor, and layout, with the rent displayed in real time based on the options they choose.
Alex Morgan, founder of Configure, says the idea came to him while dreaming of driving a custom Porsche.
“One night my wife was out and the kids were asleep, and I was playing around on Porsche’s website,” Morgan recalls. “I started changing the wheels, seats, the trim, and as you make these changes the cost of the car is going up and down. And I just thought, ‘That’s what I want to do for our buildings.’”
The key to Configure, Morgan continues, is the way that it will make a property stand out. “These poor potential occupiers are going from white box to white box. I find that boring, and I develop office buildings, so I can only imagine how boring it must be for the occupiers!” Morgan says. “At the end of the day, how do you remember which is which?”
Another advantage of Configure is the quick turnaround from the time that a tenant chooses their layout and the delivery of their options. This is accomplished in only eight weeks. For reference, sourcing furniture alone can often take up to 12 weeks.
“We wanted to be able to say to our potential tenants that they can get into this space quickly,” Alex said, “Traditionally, fit outs can easily take three to four months.”
The idea has evolved since its original conception. Morgan is also the co-founder of Morgan Capital, and originally Configure was going to be exclusive to that developer. “At the outset, I thought, ‘If you want to use Configure you’ll have to use us (Morgan Capital) as a developer, but we were getting so many phone calls I realised that it deserved to stand on its own and be its own entity.”
Landlords will pay an upfront cost of £30,000 to £50,000 for the service depending on the space, which includes CGI generation, hosting of the platform, and space-specific design. They will also have the option of having a physical marketing suite, with costs ranging from £100,000 to £400,000.
For each building that uses Configure, photography, design, and pricing must be worked out to create a custom virtual environment for tenants to view. At any point a potential tenant can download lease documents, and a gauge on the left side of the screen indicates price based on the selected options.
Ben Vinten is the Head of Platform at Configure. Vinten handles design analysis, ensuring the quick turnaround time and transparent pricing. He recognises that CGI has been used for marketing by landlords before but makes sure to point out the difference in volume of materials and options.
“A typical marketing brochure may have two or three layouts and three or four CGIs,” Vinten explains. “At one building I’ve got 1,221 potential layouts, a cost plan for every single one, and however many CGIs it takes.”
Ease of customisation and viewing options is the goal of Configure, so potential tenants will be able to use the program at home in their own time. The platform also has the option enabling clients to view a physical marketing suite to use Configure; you can also see an example of what a finished product will look like.
“At our marketing suite on Pollen Street we have a wi-fi printer so tenants can walk away with something unique to them,” Vinten continues. “It’s kind of like Build-a-Bear, but it’s more than that.”
Morgan is optimistic for the future of Configure and has his eye on expanding the model. At the moment, the platform works best in smaller spaces, avoiding an overload of options.
“There comes a point where you can have so many options that it becomes very difficult to judge what to offer,” Morgan adds, “so that will be a challenge for us over the next period.”
In future, the team hopes to add a carbon emission gauge to the platform alongside the pre-existing cost display, as well as integrating a “managed element” into their service, which may include a cleaning and building maintenance package.
“It’s been really well received,” Alex says, “so I hope this will bear fruit not only for us but for the industry as a whole.”
All picture credits: Copyright Ed Hill / Morgan Capital Partners.