One the first things we had to do with Webmotors was give the company its own identity outside of Banco Santander which included having its own office space. Location is always important in a big city to ensure you can attract the best talent and this was a big factor in being based in Vila Olimpia. What struck me about looking around Sao Paulo at suitable office space is the extra services that ultimately drive up the cost of setting up (and visiting) for business.
Here’s 5 examples that are a little different to what we’re used to in Australia:
1. Office Buildings – All office buildings I have visited have an electronic swipe system with security guards manning the entry/exit points. For visitors, you must present photo id (and in some cases a photo taken) before a temporary swipe card is issued for your visit so every building has staff ready to process you. The other noticeable difference is the presence of cleaners, etc throughout the day. These costs add up.
2. Hotels – There just seems to be people everywhere no matter what time it is. Security at the front door then more as you come in and that is before you even get to the reception area.
3. Service Stations – the good old days of the service station attendant is alive and well in Sao Paulo so you don’t have to leave your car to get your tank filled if you don’t want.
4. Valet Parking – Parking is tough in São Paulo so at most restaurants, bar precincts, shopping centers and hotels the best (or only) alternative is valet parking which just keeps adding to the expense.
5. Shopping Centres – Armed guards at the front doors and people directing traffic at the entrance just to name two.
These extra services are a result of the extra security measures required and the need to provide some form of employment to the broad class of people. They need to be employed. The result is that no matter what the cost is, all of these extra services add up and someone has to pay for them. I guess it’s the end user which makes Sao Paulo not the cheapest place to do business or live.