There are many issues that can develop as a result of a business or service professional being home-based. The reasons are many but for the most part, they can be summed up with the following:
- Initial customer perception of your business;
- Managing changing contact information as the business grows;
- Perception as a professional.
One of the best solutions to these problems is the business center! Business centers often provide both office space and virtual office services giving your business the flexibility it needs to keep costs in line while addressing the issues above which can negatively affect your business.
Initial Customer Perception
Many professional service and small businesses are often run from home with services provided in the customer’s home or another business. A home-based business or service can’t be sure that customer phone calls will be perceived as professional because you never know what may be happening in the household when the customer calls. There could be dogs barking, children or babies crying or answering the phone in an unprofessional manner. All of the above will deteriorate your customer’s perception of your business and you as a professional.
In a day and age where few people use traditional means of sourcing services opting instead for sourcing on the internet, customers will look for address and phone numbers on the website. Often home-based businesses want to hide this information with the hope that people will use email or fill in a form to contact them. More and more users of the internet are skeptical of companies hiding this info or working from an address that is a postal box or obvious residential address so there are definite advantages to a virtual office and having an obvious commercial address and phone number on your site.
You should also consider that even if the phone call was answered professionally and the address on the website is perceived as professional what happens when a client requests a meeting? A business center provides meeting rooms, conference rooms, and seminar/training rooms in addition to office space and virtual office space so a meeting and/or other activity outside of the home can be conducted in the same place as the business appears to be located! Often these additional services can be purchased on an “as needed basis” with large discounts in the cost!
Business center office space clients and virtual offices (mail forwarding and phone answering / messaging) include reception personnel that guarantees your phone calls will be answered in a professional manner from a commercial environment resulting in the perception that your business is larger than it actually is. Your address and the professional manner in which the initial phone call was handled results in your business leaving a good impression when the initial customer contact is made.
Managing Contact Information
One of the problems that all home-based businesses or service professionals encounter is managing contact information as the business grows too big to run from their home or initial office space.
As your business grows it will cause you to move the location of your business from the home to a commercial location or if you were already in a commercial space the business could outgrow the currently available space.
Phone numbers can also be an issue if you start your business using your personal phone number. The obvious problem with this scenario is when the business grows to a size where it must grow outside of the home in order to handle changes in staff size.
A business that is contact intensive could outgrow its space in literally a few months. Home-based businesses are also influenced by many family events such as births or getting a dog. Both of these will change the environment your phone is answered in and that could influence the perception of your company if a baby starts to cry or distract the person answering the call.
Lastly, a large number of home-based businesses are internet based and therefore search engines are an important ingredient in the growth of your business. Consistent NAP (name, address and phone number) are a big factor in local search. It is important that changing phone numbers and addresses are addressed at a very early stage in the development of the company if you want to keep a consistent NAP. Google doesn’t allow PO boxes and likely detects addresses using suites to hide the fact it is a PO box.
For many women with home-based businesses keeping their home address and phone number private for personal security is a priority that supersedes all other considerations in the information available on the internet.
The ease in which people can find your business will directly affect sales and inquiries so when your business address or phone number changes then you are going to lose some business how much will depend on the flexibility that comes from your initial choice of using the home address and phone number or another solution.
Perception as a Professional
Customer’s first impressions are formed quickly so the manner in which the first contact is handled will play a large role in the perception of your company. Often first impressions are very hard to top change so getting the deal or job could depend to a large degree on the impression formed in this first contact. Your perception as a professional will be formed by the impression formed your first contact with the client or customer so it is essential that you and your business are perceived professional.
Benefits of a Business Centre
A business center is the best solution for all of these problems not to mention the costs are considerably lower with fewer capital requirements.
Your business center enables you to:
- Grow to almost any size at any time not to mention that if you need less space that also can happen immediately;
- Maintain the same corporate address and phone number forever;
- Maintain search engine friendly address and phone number;
- Keep home address and phone numbers anonymous.