What is a virtual office?
According to Wikipedia, a virtual office “provides professional live communication and address services with …. space utilization". A virtual office blends home and work to gain efficiencies in both. Office expenses are low, while the user's professionalism retains the image of a traditional, high-cost office. A virtual office user can reduce their environmental impact, as well as the personal negatives of a daily commute. Virtual office clientele have the flexibility to match expenses with revenue fluctuations immediately, as the costs are usually variable. A virtual office can allow for low-cost expansion with no long-term commitments. Users taking advantage of virtual office receptionists eliminate the traditional burden of health care, records, payroll, insurance & rent. Also, traditional time-off (sick days, vacations, personal leaves, etc.…) do not apply to a virtual staff. The first commercial application of a virtual office occurred in 1994, when Ralph Gregory founded "The Virtual Office, Inc" and later "Intelligent Office", in Boulder, Colorado. The 3 main components of a virtual office are: a) A business address to receive mail and parcels. b) A place to meet with clients when you need to and work when you need a professional work enviroment. c) A virtual receptionist or assistant who can take calls, schedule appointments, screen and route calls to you wherever you are, perform routine tasks, and more.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a virtual office?
Using a virtual offices has a lot of upside:
a) Low fixed overhead costs. A traditional office typically requires a long term lease commitment, setup costs, hiring of a full-time receptionist/assistant, purchasing equipment, and ongoing variable maintenance and operating costs. All of this adds up and can be very expensive and time consuming, particularly if you don't have a lot of experience in commercial real estate and/or property management. A virtual office, on the other hand, allows you to minimize or eliminate fixed costs and frees up your time to focus on what is important to your business, which is usually not facilities or administrative staffing related issues. By pooling resources, you still get all of the benefits of a physical office without paying for it full-time.
b) Professional Image. A virtual office can provide an immediate boost to your business's image. A good, personalized virtual receptionist service conveys a more established business presence and ensures that your clients are treated well. Meeting clients in a professional, upscale office environment that is conducive for meetings shows that you value the client's privacy, comfort, and time. A good address commands respect and projects a certain level of success for the business.
c) Increased Sales. Often our clients have secured more business because we are able to help them capture and convert their business leads more effectively. Additionally, a prestigious business address helps attract more leads because people are naturally attracted to others that appear to be successful.
d) Improved productivity and work/life integration. Our virtual assistants can do the routine work, which frees up your time to focus on the important stuff, whether that be work, family, health, or other commitments. And because we are always there to answer the phones, even when you're busy and can't take calls, you can rest assured that your business is being taken care of when important calls come in. Being on standby becomes a thing of the past and with the ability to work whenever it is convenient for you, you can completely integrate work and personal activities in a way that makes sense for your lifestyle.
e) Flexibility and Financial Responsibility. Our services are à-la-carte where you only pay for what you use. As your business grows, we have the capacity to grow with you as well. You can therefore scale your costs with your revenues. This just makes financial sense, but is impossible with a traditional office and a new business.
f) Quick Setup. Whether you're starting a new business, testing a new market, or looking to reduce overhead costs, using a virtual office can help get your business or satellite location up and running in record time. We have developed a comprehensive on-boarding process for our new clients that gets them setup quickly but with the confidence that we know their business well enough to provide exceptional service right from day one.
Click Here for more information. And the downsides…
a) Shared Office Environment. Using a shared office environment is not for everyone and sometimes takes some getting used to. Like living in a condominium or with roommates, because the facilities are shared there are rules in place to ensure all users remain professional at all times. On the flip side, this ensures all of our clients can always be confident that their business image will be upheld to the highest standards of professionalism, even when they are not there.
b) You just might outgrow us…or maybe not. At some point, successful businesses grow to the point where they need their own space. But by this time, they typically are financially sound and have the consistent revenue to justify the expense of having their own office space. However, even businesses that outgrow our facilities often continue using our services like live answer reception and meeting space because they see the value of continuing to take advantage of the financial economies of shared resources such as those.
How long does it take to sign up?
Unless you have more complex virtual receptionist or assistant needs, we can typically get your services started in within 2-5 business days after the completion of paperwork and receipt of an initial payment. This is sometimes dependent on your availability to meet with us for our orientation meeting. If you are porting your existing business number into our centre, the exercise of porting usually takes several weeks as it involves outside carriers performing certain activities, however the process is completely turnkey as we will take care of all the details for you so again you can continue to focus on what's important to your business.
How much does a virtual office cost?
Every business is different, and we customize a package based on your needs after an initial consultation. Call 519-279-0160 to learn more or schedule an appointment to come to our office for a tour and consultation. There is no risk in getting a consultation–you'll only get more useful information so you can make an important decision for your business.
What is the difference between a virtual receptionist and a call centre / call answering service?
Call centres are designed to handle large volumes of calls in an efficient, programmed manner. Call answering services (also knowing as a contact centre or paging service) are used to simply put a human element to the traditional electronic voicemail box by having a live person answer the phone, take the name, number and reason for the call and pass the message onto the intended recipient.
A virtual receptionist can be compared to neither a call centre worker nor a call answering service simply because a virtual receptionist becomes an extension of your business and are perceived by your callers to be your employees, performing tasks that go beyond simply receiving phone calls. We do not just greet callers and blindly transfer calls to a number or voicemail; we can answer questions about your business and products/services, screen callers, complete intake forms, schedule appointments, and more – and all done with the highest level of professionalism and customer service. We capture leads effectively and ensure your existing customers are treated well. We save you time by doing the routine work so you can be more productive.
Intelligent Office has been providing virtual receptionist services for more than 18 years. We have experience serving a diverse clientele (e.g., attorneys, financial advisors, locksmiths, sign makers, tech firms, chiropractors, etc.). Our receptionists are locally based so your calls are answered by people you have met and know. Our staff also undergo rigorous initial and ongoing training in order to deliver personalized and first-class service to your customers.
How does a virtual receptionist know about my business and will they handle my calls properly?
You can be assured that our Intelligent Assistants will not blindly and knowledgably answer your businesses phone calls. Upon signing up with Intelligent Office, we conduct a mandatory on-boarding meeting with you to get to know your business. Much like the financial services industry has a 'know your client' rule, so do we. Through this on-boarding process, we will ask you many questions about your business so that we thoroughly understanding what it is that you do and how you do it. We will ensure we understand how you like to operate your business. We appreciate that every business is different, even ones in the same industry. That is why our on-boarding meeting is mandatory – we will never assume we know your business until we hear it from you. Once this meeting has occurred and the conversation has been well documented, behind the scenes our Intelligent Assistants are then trained and cross-trained to ensure that all of the information we have collected is disseminated and understood by all staff to ensure the highest level of service will be delivered to your customers. This effort is assisted by our state-of-the-art telephone-computer system, which allows us to take care of your callers effectively and track information on the fly. And finally, we have a culture of constant improvement and knowledge collection and sharing so that as we learn more about your business and as your business changes, we adjust our activities to ensure our quality of service is second to none.
Can I answer my own phone?
We typically do not forward inbound calls directly to our client's phones. Our clients appreciate and understand the value of the service we provide to their business and know how important it is to their business to ensure that their customers have the best possible experience on every call. And additionally our clients also appreciate the pressure we take off their busy schedules by being available to take calls at any time during the day, particularly when they are not available themselves to answer.
One of the reasons you may be concerned is because you know the impact a good call versus a bad call can make on your business, particularly if the caller is a new customer or an upset existing customer. And you know that having well trained staff who can make the caller experience and exceptional one is key to ensuring customer satisfaction and client retention. This is why we work very closely with you to ensure that your calls are answered the way you want. We have a consistent track record of successfully transitioning initially apprehensive clients into businesses who are very comfortable with us being literally a part of their business as their first point of customer contact in addition to many of the other integrative administrative activities we perform for their business.
What if my business is pretty complicated?
We know that your business is unique, has specific details and processes, and that you have spent a long time becoming very good at what you do. On the flip side, Intelligent Office has helped thousands of businesses for more than 2 decades and we have become very good at what we do. We know how to effectively become knowledgeable about your business, no matter how complicated it is, and we have an established methodology for working with various industries and business types to ensure that our virtual receptionists help your customers effectively and professionally all the time.
No matter how big or small your company is, every call is important to a business and should be treated with the utmost care. In fact, the smaller your business is, likely the more important each call is! You never want to miss that one call that could be your next biggest customer, no matter how few calls you get a day. Our menu of live answer plans are designed to fit businesses of every size and budget, and we can scale as your needs change. If you expect a spike in calls in the future (for example, when running promotional advertising or you have a seasonal business), you can rest assured that we have the capacity to handle the increased volume of calls.
How much does a virtual receptionist cost?
Our Virtual Reception service prices are based on two components. The first is the call volume and the second is the call complexity and what you want us to do with the calls (otherwise known as Business Services). We have plans for businesses of every size and complexity. Through a consultative meeting, we can assess your needs quickly and provide you with an accurate quote. Typically our virtual reception services cost less than a few hundred dollars per month. When you consider how much just one or two additional clients/customers are worth to your business, the importance of knowing you have a strong new prospect capturing system in place becomes very apparent and extremely valuable.
What is the difference between using my home address, a P.O. Box, and a professional address for my business address?
A prestigious address conveys your business's professionalism. It also lets your customers know that you are serious about your business and investing in it. A P.O. Box is a good option for some businesses, but it can sacrifice your business's image. Also, if you want customers to find you online through a search, you need an address, not a P.O. Box. In addition, P.O. Boxes can't forward or scan your mail, or accept packages, and postal outlets don't have places to meet clients and other services to support your business all in one location. Instead of meeting at the closest coffee shop, you can meet in our offices to ensure you have a more professional image.
When can I access my mailbox?
You have the ability to access your private mailbox 24/7. Packages that do not fit in your mailbox, however, can only be picked up during business hours.
What if it is hard for me to find time to come in and get my mail on a regular basis?
No problem – we can help you out. For an additional charge, you can have the contents of your mailbox forwarded to you on demand or according to a fixed schedule. We can also scan and email your mail to you, or even filter mail for cheques and deposit them at the local bank.
How soon can I start using my mailbox?
Upon completion of paperwork and receipt of payment, we can usually get your mailbox ready within 1 - 2 business days.
How can I use the mailing address?
You can use it on your website, business cards, marketing materials, correspondence, and any forms as permitted by law.
Why is there a minimum contract term for a mailbox?
We require a minimum contract of 6 months for a mailbox. We enforce this as well as utilize other standard practices to ensure that only legitimate businesses use our address. Unfortunately there is a lot of fraudulent activity that requires the use of a mailing address, typically on a short term basis, and we take every measure possible to protect the integrity and prestigious image of our address.
How much does a mailbox cost?
Our mailboxes are competitively priced and offer tremendous value when the additional benefits we offer are taken into consideration. Our pricing is dependent on the length of term you choose, if you are purchasing other services with us, and are offered with business hours only access or with 24/7/365 access.
Why should I pay for a meeting room when I can just meet at the local coffee shop?
Coffee shops are a popular choice and work well for some people. Meeting your clients at Intelligent Office, however, projects a more professional image for your business and delivers a clear message to your customers and clients that you are serious about your business. You get a private and quiet environment, which shows your clients that you respect their business. The local coffee shop also doesn't offer large screen presentation TVs, white boards, reception courtesies or free coffee and tea on-site!
What equipment comes in the room and are there extra charges?
We have large flat screen TVs with HDMI cable input (and converters for Macbooks or VGA) and wall mounted white board included in our conference rooms at no extra charge. We also have a portable whiteboard easel available for rent if you require an additional whiteboard for a collaboration meeting or for a small meeting in one of our virtual executive offices.
How many people can fit in the room?
Our executive office suites all come furnished with one executive chair and 2 guest chairs. Our Uptown Conference room comfortably seats 6 and our Seagram conference room comfortably seats 12 – 18. We have the ability to accommodate more people in our conference rooms by moving or removing the tables in the room. The best way to see if we can meet your needs is to come to our facility and take a look.
Can I bring food into my meeting?
Yes you are able to bring food into a meeting, however it must be prearranged with our staff. We also offer catering assistance if you don't have time to make the arrangements yourself or we can simply recommend local restaurants that we have used in the past that offer excellent food and service for a meeting. Please note that additional charges may apply if extra room cleaning is required.
Can I meet after-hours or on the weekend?
Although our offices are open Monday to Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm, some of our memberships offer 24/7 access to our facilities and the ability to conduct meetings outside of regular business hours. Please call us at 519-279-0160 for membership information.
How much does a meeting room cost?
We offer our offices, small and large conference rooms at $25/hr, $35/hr and $65/hr respectively for anyone dropping in off the street who is not a member. We also have rates for a half-day usage or full-day usage. As an Intelligent Office member, however, you get the benefit of accessing these rooms at preferred member rates, the ability to purchase hours in bundles saving you even more money, as well as a number of other benefits that come with being an Intelligent Office member. Typically once you are using our facilities more than once or twice per month it is more advantageous to become a member of our centre.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using an executive office suite?
There are a number of benefits of using an executive office suite, however probably the biggest advantage is a much lower overhead cost and the ability to scale your costs with revenue – in other words, convert your facilities costs from a fixed cost to a variable cost. If you leased space on your own, you could expect to spend $4,000 to $8,000 per month, which includes rent, receptionist/assistant salary and benefits, equipment leases, furniture leases, utilities, maintenance, etc. Executive office suites are move-in ready and cost a fraction of leasing your own space. Additionally, you also do not need to deal with the hassles of setting up an office, hiring a receptionist, buying/leasing equipment, and dealing with multiple vendors. When your business grows, we can scale with your needs.
We encourage all of the people that visit our centre seeking an office to consider a virtual office (using an office part time only when you need it). Often when you assess your daily activities many of them do not require you to have a dedicated office. We have packages starting at a fraction of the cost of a full-time office to help your business get up and running. But we also realize that for some a full-time office is a necessary part of their business. So we offer options for both virtual and full-time use. Please call us at 519-276-0160 to discuss the various options and packages available to suit any budget.
How large are your offices?
All of our offices are approximately 10' x 12' and comfortably accommodate a large 3'x6' executive desk with full return, executive chair and 2 guest chairs. We also have multiple-occupancy suites available that fit more than one person and desk comfortably.
What is included in the office rent, and what do I have to pay extra for?
Our private dedicated offices come complete with furnishings, Internet access (wifi and wired), desk phone, unlimited outbound North American calling, reception courtesies, live inbound receptionist services with 50 calls per month, mailbox, electronic lobby listing, complementary coffee and tea, utilities, and janitorial service. The only extra charges you would incur from month to month would be for any printing, copying, scanning, fax, or meeting room use. Please call us at 519-279-0160 for more information.
How much does a dedicated office cost?
Our dedicated offices are competitively priced according to current market conditions and current availability. Consequently, our prices change often throughout the year. Our pricing is also dependent on the length of term you desire and the number of members with your company seeking to use the room, and how many desks are in the room. We would be pleased to show you our offices, provide you with a personalized quote and discuss current availability with you. Please contact us at 519-279-0160 to speak with someone today.
What parking options are nearby?
For parking information, please visit our parking information page.
If you have any other questions about Intelligent Office, our centre, or working in Uptown Waterloo, please give us a call at 519-279-0160.
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“I look forward to helping your business grow and prosper while improving your work-life balance.”