As soon as the term “virtual office” hit magazines like Entrepreneur, it seemed like hundreds of small companies popped up promising virtual office services. If you do a search for “virtual office” today you’ll likely find a wide range of prices and options to create a virtual office space. However, not all virtual offices are created equal. Before you sign a contract on a virtual office plan, make sure you understand what you’re purchasing and that you aren’t paying for that great price in other ways.
Benefits of Having a Virtual Office
Virtual office space can be a great time-saving and budget-saving solution for a variety of different businesses. Virtual office space can help a work-at-home professional create separation between home and business. It can provide mid-sized and larger companies with footholds for expansion into new areas. Virtual offices can also simplify business because the best offer live telephone answering services and office support staff – all of your calls and mail are handled by professional staff.
These are just a few of the many benefits of using a virtual office, but they are only possible with a true virtual office service , and not with a dressed up phone line or answering service.
The Rise of the Fake Virtual Office
Once the term “virtual office” became a buzz word many sneaky (or smart, depending on how you look at it) phone answering services began marketing their services as virtual offices. Many of these call centers claim to offer virtual office services at bargain basement prices. When you compare these companies with a true virtual service package, it seems like a no brainer.
But before you shop solely on price, consider what services a company offers and whether it is truly the virtual office experience you require. An automated phone tree with voice mail does not equal a virtual office! They are what they are – a fancy version of the basic telephone services you already have.
What to Look for In a Virtual Office
What these fake virtual office companies are offering has a low price for a reason – it doesn’t do much for your business. While maintaining a separate address and having a voicemail service may help some businesses, it doesn’t help a business maintain a professional image. Imagine customers calling and always being shuffled off to an automated message. Without a physical location, imagine your mail going to a P.O. Box or what to do when you need to meet with clients. It’s not a good impression and it will lose you some business.
Contrast that with the phone experience from a true virtual office service. For example, if you had a San Francisco Virtual Office, your customers are greeted by a live person who uses your company name. He or she will either forward the call to you, wherever you may be, or will transfer the call to voicemail. The experience is completely different. It leaves a good impression on your customer and projects the image that you have a full time office staff – because you do!
Now imagine that your client wants to meet with you at your office to close a deal or sign an agreement. A real virtual office will provide you with conference rooms to host your meeting. When your client arrives, they will be greeted by a professional receptionist as if they are work for you – because they do! Even if your clients were to show up unannounced, the receptionist is there to maintain your image.
All in all, a true virtual office service will put your company in good standing with your customers without taking a bite out of your pocketbook. And that’s exactly where you should be.