Office Boulevard

Virtual Office, Why Do I need One?

In real estate on July 7, 2010 at 5:26 am

In this blog, I’d like to focus on virtual offices, pros and cons,  and what to look for when you are searching for a virtual office for your business.

First off, let’s look at what a virtual office is and what it does for you.  Essentially, when you are leasing a virtual office, you are not leasing a physical office space in an executive suites.  Instead, you are paying for services that the executive suites offer you, and at the same time, giving your customers the appearance that you do occupy physical space.  I hate to use the words “give the appearance”, but the reality is, that is what you are doing.   Face it, office space is expensive, and if you are a struggling business or a startup, it’s hard to shell out $500-$1000 for an office every month.  All your customers see is your business address, and if you are not there 90% of the time, then a virtual office might be your best option.

Let’s highlight the virtual services that are offered through professional executive suites.

  • A professional mailing address.  This is most crucial since it identifies your business with the professional location and allows you to collect mail and packages at this location.  The cost for this service range from $50-$100 per month.  Sure you can go out and get a PO Box and pay $5/month, but let’s not fool anybody here, you should never use a PO Box as your professional address.
  • Personalized Answering Service.  This is an option  that you do not have to take, but it’s a great benefit to your business.  The cost for this service is anywhere from $50-100 per month, and what you get is a live receptionist who answers calls in your company name during business hours.  The calls then goes to a voice mail and you can choose methods of getting alerts, or you can choose  for the call to transfer instantly to your cell phone, home phone or any phone you designate.  This last option does have some added costs, but well worth it if you are in a business where you cannot afford to miss any calls, and adding a receptionist to your front line only makes you look better.
  • Conference Room Access – This is also optional but this option is fantastic if you need to meet with clients once in a while.  The cost ranges from $25-$50 per hour and what you get is a nicely furnished conference room to meet with that important client from out-of-town for an hour.  If you think you will need more than a few hours a month, consider prepaying for  a conference room package.  For example, at Premier Business Centers, you can rent a conference room anytime during business hours for $35 per hour.  At the same time, you can prepay $160 per month and get 16 hours, that works out to $10 an hour!  A nice savings if you know you will need to use quite a few hours of conference time each month.  An important note: conference time cannot be rolled over, this is not a cell phone plan, people.

Let’s look at the pros and cons, in bullet points.  If you have any questions, feel free to call me anytime.

Pros

  • Low cost to get started, no overhead.  Literally, $100 can get you started
  • Professional business address
  • Receive the same services as full-time tenants
  • Flexibility to work from home, at the beach, at Starbucks or anywhere you please
  • Most offers month-to-month plans, cancel anytime
  • Most don’t do a credit check to qualify you for a virtual office.
  • On Demand conference or office rentals by the hour
  • When it comes time to lease a full-time office, you can upgrade very easily

Cons

  • Mail not accessible after business hours and weekends
  • Conference room usage is during business hours, in most cases.  Some will offer after hours if you pay an up -charge,  and possibly more charges for security.
  • If you use a lot of conference room time to meet clients or have team meetings, then you might end up paying more than a full-time office, and that’s where you’ll eat up your savings

So, now, what do you look for to make sure you are getting the best virtual office for your company?

  • Choose a physical office that is close to your home.  This will only makes thing easy for you if you need to stop by to pick up your mail, or meet with a client.
  • Pick a respectable company.  This is hard for you since you don’t know what different companies offer and how they can be part of your company growth when the time comes.  For this option, I respectably will ask you to talk to me about this, since I am the expert in this industry and I will give you hard facts to help you determine if a particular executive suites is right for you. For example, a question I may ask you is if you travel in your business and if you meet with clients nationwide or even worldwide.  This will help me focus on companies with nationwide and worldwide presence.
  • Visit the center and ask for a tour of the offices.  Don’t just show up, arrange appointments.  I do this for my clients every day, free of charge.
  • Price is not a huge concern here because most centers are very comparable in prices for virtual office.  Instead, focus on your decision on what you think of the center, the layout, the staff, and picture yourself working in this environment.  The simple reason is, every who starts with a virtual office eventually gets into a full-time office, so make sure you like where your second home is.

Here is my contact information.  If you have any questions, just pick up the phone or email me, I am always available.  I love what I do, and I love helping people find the best deals.  I will work with you no matter where you live, I have a lot of contacts and I know a lot of people 🙂 My services are always free to you, but all I ask is that you call me BEFORE you call the center manager or other search firms.  That way, I can represent you on your behalf .

Written by JC Nguyen of Office Blvd.  You can find me at http://www.officeblvd.com or contact me  at 949-800-5507 or jcnguyen@officeblvd.com

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