Don’t Just Think Big, Look Big! Get a Big Business Image with a Virtual Office, Part 1
Donald Trump and many other success gurus talk about the power of "thinking big". After you are thinking big, you need to look big and act big. A virtual office may be just the thing to help build that image.
However, once you have you the vision and mindset, then what? Thoughts are one part of the equation; actions and image are the others. You need to also “act big” and “look big”. Even if you are one person just starting out and working out of your home office, it is essential that you portray yourself as professional and bigger than you are. This will help others take you seriously and build your credibility with customers, vendors, and professionals. A virtual office may be just the thing to help build that image.
What is a virtual office? It often goes by other names and has many components and potentially many options. There are three main components that I will define as part of the virtual office, and then we can discuss each in more detail. The first is virtual communications and call handling, the second is virtual address and mail/package handling, and the third is virtual facilities.
Virtual Communications and Call Handling
Often an entrepreneur or small investor when just starting out will buy (or print for himself) business cards with his cell phone number. He may use a message such as, “This is Bob’s business, leave a message”. That does not leave you with the impression that Bob is very large or professional. Instead, imagine that Bob has a business card with a toll free number on it. When you call you get the message, "You have reached the offices of Bob's Business. We are eager to help you. Press 1 for sales, 2 for billing, 3 for customer support” and so on (and not in Bob’s voice). Now Bob may very well be the recipient of all the calls to these different departments but people will think Bob has a much larger company.
This is called an auto-attendant or virtual PBX. Other similar products may go by names such as Executive Voice Mail or Deluxe Voice Mail. Today’s telecommunications technology is very flexible. Calls can be forwarded to cell phones, land lines, and voice mailboxes. Messages can be converted to emails and forwarded to your Internet enabled phone on a menu option by menu option basis. Rules can be set up for call handling. For instance, Bob can forward his sales calls to his cell phone first. If Bob does not answer then forward the call to his partner’s office number. If his partner also does not answer then forward the call to a voice mailbox. This voice mail is then emailed to both Bob and his partner’s iPhone. That was sales, now forward all support calls to a call center. The possibilities are almost endless.
Keep in mind Bob is “thinking big”, so its not going to be just Bob for very long! When Bob hires that sales assistant it is very easy for Bob to change the auto-attendant and have those calls forwarded to the sales person’s cell phone rather than his. It is simple and transparent. If Bob had been using his cell number or simple office number, Bob may have a difficult time taking himself out of the loop. It may be particularly aggravating for Bob to continue to have his cell ring in the middle of the night despite having hired a call center to handle support calls.
Many vendors of virtual offices may provide options for live call answering (or you can just forward certain departments to a separate answering service or call center). Now Bob has a live person answering his calls and directing them to the correct departments and/or taking messages.
Another image and productivity enhancer is using auto-attendants to distribute repetitive information and screen potential clients. By advertising a “24 hour Recorded Message” you look bigger. It can reduce the customer’s intimidation factor of calling for information or not wanting to call from work. Your auto-attendant also enhances your productivity by weeding out tire kickers, time wasters, and avoiding the repeating of basic information over and over. For example, if you are selling or renting houses use your auto attendant to first give the caller basic information about your program, then allow the caller to get detailed information on each house, “Press 1 for 123 Main St., 2 for 987 Church St.” and so on. Then give a detailed description of the house, the pricing, and directions, suggest that they drive by and check the place out, etc. Then and only then give them an option to forward to your cell or leave a message. Those who actually leave a message will be qualified leads! This applies to any business that needs to disseminate information to and qualify prospective buyers.
Thanks to his virtual telecommunications package, Bob looks like a Fortune 500 powerhouse! Bob is also doing more business because he is more productive and not wasting time with unqualified prospects. Bob’s quality of life has improved because he is no longer a slave to his cell phone. The best part is with today’s technology these capabilities are a lot less expensive than you may think. The capabilities described above can often be had for less than $50 a month. If Bob saves just a couple hours a month by screening out tire kickers it will have more than paid for itself. However the value of Bob looking like a larger professional organization is priceless!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edward Bennett is a Manager of Business Office Centers LLC, an Executive and Virtual Office facility located in Woodstock, GA. Look Big by Signing up for an Executive Virtual Communications Package for just $299/year at http://www.BusinessOfficeCenters.com/LookBigSpecial.html