New AvenueWest franchise owner Tamara Lopes ran her own corporate housing business for 17 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent 30 or so years in property management before that. There isn’t much she hasn’t seen or experienced in the business, including the thrill of seeing her company grow, the effects of the Great Recession after 2008, and the constant effects of change that technology and social media have had on the industry.
With all that experience, it might be surprising to learn that Lopes made the decision to join AvenueWest and buy a franchise in Sacramento last summer.
“In order to try to compete today you have to have a presence, a national company,” Lopes said. “This is where AvenueWest comes in: ‘We’re going to give you a seat at the table.’ They are both local and national.”
Both of those attributes matter to Lopes. She grew up in Sacramento, so she’s about as local as a corporate housing manager can be. “There’s not much that I don’t know about Sacramento; I’ve lived and worked all over the city.” She is equally adept at finding a suburban individual home for a family with children and dogs as she is in finding urban-style living for a single person who prefers controlled access, groceries and a dry cleaner within walking distance. She appreciates the freedom in AvenueWest that allows her the ability to more precisely match her client to the appropriate kind of residence, whether it’s for a month, three months, or longer.
When Lopes started her own corporate housing company in 2002, the market was more open to supporting a small, individual business. She partnered with a company that helped her grow, and cultivated loyal customers.
“I had two companies that were very loyal to me (sending her clients) for years, but as time goes on, things change. There definitely is market volatility in the industry. When times are good, they’re good, but when times start changing, it can be really hard to maintain.”
The economic downturn that began in 2008 thinned the business world in almost every industry; many companies did not survive. As things began to improve, the corporate-housing business model began to evolve, favoring more one-stop relocation companies over those that handled only one aspect of a client’s move. Lopes found that conventional property-management and corporate-housing companies were stuck in old processes that didn’t necessarily work anymore.
Contract extensions are one example. Many times, a client that had signed a contract to live in corporate housing for the duration of a project needed to extend their time, and the previous business model made that difficult; an entire new contract would have to be negotiated for the new period of time, often at a higher rate. This isn’t the case at AvenueWest, a distinction Lopes appreciates.
“We’ve had to change the way we do business,” she says. “With this new business model, we can say, ‘Yes, of course you can stay another month at the same rate.’ We make the decisions based on common sense, not on something a computer program spits out.”
Lopes has never been interested in selling real estate or in having her own license; she prefers the logistical and economic puzzle that corporate housing presents.
“It’s about where it’s located, what’s the proximity, how long does it take to get to work. When you deal with people buying homes, there’s a lot more emotion that goes into it, and I’m not that person.
“Corporate housing, I really enjoy. It’s always ever-changing. This has been an industry that has not stayed the same, you’re always trying to figure out what the next move will be. The real movers and shakers in this industry are innovators, and I applaud that.”
Lopes appreciates the national presence, the networking opportunities, and the supportive structure of AvenueWest, but she still feels like she’s in charge.
“I’m excited. Very excited. I’m still an entrepreneur, I’m still a businesswoman. I have the stamp of AvenueWest but I also have my stamp. It’s still going to be me selling.
“That works with AvenueWest.”
About AvenueWest AvenueWest Managed Corporate Housing was founded in 1999. In 2010, AvenueWest Global Franchise was established to expand the business and corporate housing services throughout the United States. In 2019, AvenueWest Canada was launched to continue to expand the franchise program into Canada. Currently, AvenueWest Global Franchise has 15 offices located in Atlanta GA, Boulder CO, Colorado Springs CO, Dallas TX, Denver CO, Denver South / DTC CO, Fort Collins CO, Las Vegas NV, Phoenix AZ, Sacramento, CA San Francisco CA, Scottsdale AZ, St Louis MO, Tucson AZ and Toronto, Ontario Canada.
Our Vision: AvenueWest’s vision is to provide quality Managed Corporate Housing by professionally servicing a unique niche of business travelers with investment owners’ properties.
Our Mission: AvenueWest’s primary objective is to provide high quality condominiums, townhomes, lofts, single family homes and apartments to meet the short-term executive housing demand. We can best serve our tenants and property owners by always improving the quality of everything we do as a team. We are committed to the process of becoming a continuously self-improving organization.