ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOME BASED BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
CONTACT: Gary Hahnenkamp
ON LINE ARTICLE NOVEMBER 1998
THE VIRTUAL OFFICE: Making Small Companies Look Big
Every day Kim Ryan takes a 15 second walk to her home office in Denver, Colorado, Jeff Hertz trades thousands of shares of stock from his inexpensive office on the edge of downtown, and Frank Russell goes to his job as a Vice President of Information Technology for a Denver Based Internet technology company.
What do these three have in common? With the help of a new kind of "virtual office" from YourOffice-Denver they all portray the image of a significant corporate presence in the Denver marketplace. All three boast the prestigious address of 600 17th Street, the Wall Street of Denver, Colorado. All three have their telephones answered by the virtual office and none of them actually occupy space at that location. But from there the similarity ends.
Working from Home
Kim Ryan of The Ryan Law Firm is taking her young one person firm to the next level of its existence. Shes eliminating the "small-time" image associated with no meeting space, no staff, and utilizing an inexpensive answering machine. Instead she now has an elegant environment to meet customers, a staff of administrative and technical people and a sophisticated telephone system.
The phone system is supported by a computerized database filled with information about Ryan's firm including a variety of telephone contact numbers, her daily schedule and even special instructions for handling calls from a specific individuals. Calls for Ryan are answered by the receptionist and forwarded to her home office without any indication that she's not physically present at the 17th Street address. Urgent calls from clients trigger additional activity such as calls to her pager or cell phone.
"During the first week, I received two compliments from existing clients about my new office", says Ryan, "I was thrilled with the image".
While she created this new image in very short time frame she has yet to implement many of the other computer related services offered by her new virtual office partner. Shell soon take advantage of the companys web design and hosting offering to create a new web site for her law firm and a new startup company specializing in marketing for the legal community.
Upgrading an Office Image
Jeff Hertz, president of Greenbriar Capital, already has office space for his stock trading business but the complexity of his networked trading computers made relocating to improve his image a forbidding task. Plus, the additional cost of office rentals for the 17th Street image was not justifiable. "I only meet with clients a couple of times a month, but when I do, I need to portray a very rich image", says Jeffries.
"I also gained a backup for telephone calls", he added, " I still want to answer my own phone calls, but now when I'm unavailable my calls are still answered by a live voice who knows how to deal with special circumstances."
Helping to run a second business
Frank Russell and his wife Rita operated a small web hosting and design business until he recently accepted a Vice President position at a Denver Internet Technology company. "My wife and I had decided to shut down the business because the demands placed upon her were conflicting with her first priority as a mom", says Russell. "But YourOffice-Denver offered us the chance to keep the business alive by taking over many of the operational tasks. Since weve moved our company address and phone answering responsibility to the YourOffice location it has made it feasible for us to outsource to them the accounting function and the first line of customer support. They read our mail, deposit our checks and send out the monthly invoices. Customer questions or problems are received by the YourOffice staff and dispatched to us for resolution at a later time. We would not have attempted to keep the business alive without them", adds Russell.
The Virtual Office Concept
YourOffice-Denver , a network of 120 business centers around the world, has pioneered the virtual office concept for home based workers. Key components of the concept include the ability to deliver a prestigious image, administrative and technical support services as well as full or part time office or conference room space to small companies or remote representatives of larger companies.
The company does offer on site office rentals but finds the most significant interest from home based workers in a variety of industries. As heavy consumers of mail box rental and package stores, these home based workers get two fundamental needs satisfied through the package stores. The first is a business mailing address and the second is the ability to send and receive frequent package shipments. The YourOffice-Denver concept goes much further. "The home based worker gets a combination of the services from Mail Boxes Etc., the equipment from Kinko's, and the image and support services of a large company", says Ken Sully, Director of International Operations for YourOffice-Denver . Sully and a number of other YourOffice-Denver high level employees are former employees of Mail Boxes Etc. Sully was the head of franchising operations for MBE during the explosive years when the company grew from 900 stores to over 3000 stores worldwide. "The package store chains recognize these additional needs of the home based workers, but they can't satisfy them because of the limitations associated with their physical locations", he said.
The Technology Factor
Much of the service offering of YourOffice-Denver is affected by the state of today's technology. The emergence of Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) enables the integration of the telephone answering system and the computerized database. Incoming phone calls contain imbedded Destination Identifiers or DIDs which include the phone number being called. Once captured by the computer system, the appropriate database record for the called company is "Screen Popped" onto the display for an appropriate greeting by the receptionist. Armed with the wealth of information at hand the receptionist can provide an unmatched ability to forward calls, track down the client or handle particular calls in a predefined manner.
The Internet also plays a big factor in servicing the home based customer. Large documents such as mass mailings can be designed at home and then remotely printed at the YourOffice business center for folding, stuffing, postage metering, and mailing.
Gary Hahnenkamp, owner of the downtown Denver facility, is pioneering efforts in several technological areas. One is the use of a web site as a medium for scheduling the use of shared facilities such as conference rooms. "When I was a tenant in an environment which shared conference room facilities, I was frequently told that the conference room was unavailable after I had already set an appointment time with a client", says Hahnenkamp. "That triggered several more phone calls to complete the rescheduling effort". Hahnenkamp's web site at www.yourofficedenver.com contains a conference room schedule so home based workers can check the schedule live while on the phone with a client.
The Denver location also provides technical support to the home based worker through the use of an internet based videoconferencing/data collaboration tool provided free to its customers. Customers can receive in their home remote computer software instruction or problem resolution from the YourOffice staff. "A worker no longer has to be physically present with the other staff members in order to receive the benefit of their support", said Hahnenkamp.
"Technology is the great equalizer. It allows the small company to work very efficiently and to provide the appearance of a much larger company", he added. "And we intend to bring that technology to the home office worker."
YourOffice-Denver is located at 600 17th Street, Suite 2800 South, Denver CO 80202, 303-260-6400, Web Address: www.yourofficedenver.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org