In this time of uncertain economic recovery, it is more important than ever for businesses to conserve resources. The overhead cost of a brick-and-mortar office location and the staff to run it is often seen as an extravagance or even totally unnecessary in this age of e-commerce. However, the credibility, professional image, and practical services provided by an office and staff members are crucial factors for many types of businesses, especially home-based endeavors. A modern solution to this dilemma is to use an outsourced service for office space and telephone reception services.
1. Have a Commercial Address
For many small businesses, the address itself can be critical. Having a commercial address, rather than a post office box or a residential address, lends instant credibility to a business and gives it the image of long-term seriousness. Often, when prospects see a residential address or a post office box they question whether the business is legitimate and will have longevity. As a result, additional questions and a more thorough proposal process may ensue, which makes it more difficult to land new clients. In some instances, you may never get a chance to make a proposal to such a client.
Establishing a temporary office may also be a matter of necessity. Some vendors and prospects, including a number of large companies, have policies that prohibit working with home-based businesses.
2. Have a Physical, if Temporary, Office Space
Generally, home-based business owners cannot and should not, from an image perspective, host business meetings with clients or prospective clients in their homes. It can be terribly awkward for both parties and can make the business appear unprofessional. Temporary executive offices provide physical office space when needed. This can be useful when the business owner periodically needs to escape the distractions at home. Perhaps best of all, it provides you with an appropriate place to meet with prospects, customers, and contacts without your having to tidy up your home or bribe your children to behave.
3. Have Someone Answer Your Phone Calls
Another benefit to having an office is the professional image and customer confidence created by telephone staff. If you run a small business, you likely get many phone calls, and it is unwise, or even impossible, to manage all of them yourself. If customers’ calls are always going to voicemail, or even if you’re answering directly, you will have image and customer service issues.
Customers generally like to feel like they are interacting with a professional organization that has considerable resources. If they get a live person on the phone who can direct them to you or take a message, they will be impressed. Customers quickly become unhappy when they can’t reach a specific person or don’t succeed in speaking to a real person on the phone.
If an urgent situation or question arises, the receptionist can prioritize and reach the business owner, which is not something a smartphone or voice mail could ever do. When a client is in crisis, even an hour or two delay between checking voicemail messages can feel like an eternity. A live office receptionist service can speak with clients, give them a sense of confidence, and get in touch with you immediately.
Outsourced telephone reception can also schedule appointments and answer simple questions about a business. The business owner can give a list of frequently asked questions about the company to reception staff who will be trained on how to answer.
Some businesses use outsourced services as they grow or to project the best image possible without having to hire permanent staff or rent expensive office space. The cost-effective price structure of telephone reception and virtual office services is preferable for small and growing businesses, for which the need for professional office space is limited. Space and services can be rented on demand or by contract, which keeps the overhead costs low and allows the business to focus funds on growth.
Roger Kahn is President of Champion Office Suites in Garden City, New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.