Forbes magazine is extolling the virtues of virtual offices. You gotta love this subhead: “Fire your secretary and terminate your office lease. You can still have a Park Avenue address without the headache and overhead.”
I’m not sure how much traditional office developers would like this article, but virtual office providers are probably celebrating from Manhattan to Los Angeles and from Seattle to Miami to get what amounts to a nod from Forbes magazine.
Forbes tells the story of Rob Shelton. It seems the young financial adviser had a problem: He wanted to expand his presence in Utah without the cost of setting up two physical locations.
Shelton chose Davinci Virtual, paid a one-time set-up fee and is now paying $100 a month for a premier address 10 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. The result: He can meet with clients in both his home office in Provo and in Davinci’s conference rooms in Salt Lake City.
What does Shelton have access to with his virtual office provider? Beyond the prime business address, he also gets mail and package receipt, a business support center, a lobby greeter, a client drop off and pick-up point, a lobby directory listing, mail forwarding and shipping services, and a conference room.
Some of those amenities, like the conference room, come at an extra cost. But Davinci says its monthly packages are all-inclusive. In other words, there are no additional charges for long distance, toll free minutes, call patching, voicemail, faxes, conference calling, etc. The scheduling, order processing and outbound sales and customer service calls are also included in the base rate.
The only additional costs Shelton might incur are charges for additional call volume. The charges are based on minutes, so if he goes over consistently he might need to upgrade his service. Shelton could also opt for additional voicemail boxes. The second box is $29.95 a month, and additional boxes after that run $19.95 a month.
The Virtual Office Concept
If the concept of virtual offices is new to you, you should check out Davinci’s FAQs. These do a good job explaining how it works, from using existing numbers to how forwarding features function and from set-up times and payment issues.
Whether you choose Davinci or one of the many other virtual office providers, be sure to investigate the company’s track record. There are brands that have been around for many years that are reputable and accountable. There are other virtual office brands that are much newer. Some are solid choices, others are too new to judge.
Always check customer references and don’t base your decision on the cheapest price. Like anything else, look for the overall value the virtual office provider brings to your business. You may spend a few dollars more a month for a well-established virtual office vendor, but the value could far exceed the additional cost.
What’s more, reliability is critical with virtual office providers. Without reliability, your company could lose sales, lose customers and end up with a poor reputation in your marketplace. If there is a free one-month trial available, take it. Even though virtual offices are inexpensive, the set-up fee isn’t worth wasting with a vendor that doesn’t have a proven track record.