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Office Suites

Rental office space has always been viewed as a good short-term solution for adding small increments of office space. However, if your business involves in-person interaction with your clients, the marketing value of having a complete, quality mini-office in one or more locations is tremendous. Since meeting with clients in your own office adds immeasurably to the credibility of your firm, especially at an appealing or prestigious address as offered by full featured office suites or business centers, it can ultimately be the winning edge your business needs.

In a traditional office building, suburban office park, or office storefront, you lease or buy the space, and everything else is up to you. If you want a receptionist to greet visitors or answer the phone, thatís someone else for you to hire. If you want computer or LAN support, thatís your problem to figure out. Cleaning? Get out the feather duster yourself, or hire somebody. The list is virtually endless.

Full service office suites (sometimes called business centers) provide the typical services a business requires as a part of the rent. For example, office suite companies typically rent offices that are already furnished. They also normally have receptionists to greet visitors and answer tenantsí phones (announcing your firmís name when picking up a call coming in for you). They hire cleaning staff, and may have mailroom personnel of their own to handle your incoming and outgoing correspondence. Basic office machinery like copiers should be on-site in common areas, though you may be charged per use. Some office suites (business centers) go a step further and have in-house technical support staff to assist you with PCs, LANs, Internet connections, and the like.

Conference rooms are bound to be on hand, though you must share them with other tenants, which forces you to schedule their usage in advance. If you anticipate a need for teleconferencing capabilities, you should check whether these are available, and at what cost.

In short, before shopping around, you should compile a list of the services and amenities that you will require, and then compare what various office suite providers have, and at what cost. You will have to make trade-offs between the available features, the price thereof, and the location. Location may be a crucial factor in your decision, depending on your current or anticipated client base. Depending on who they are, and what the nature of your business is, selecting the most convenient (to them) or prestigious address may trump all other considerations.

Another huge consideration, but one that is often overlooked, is your fellow tenants. All else equal, it may be highly advantageous to select a building that is home to potential clients, vendors, or advisers. This can present the ultimate networking opportunity.

If the employees of your business are geographically dispersed, and/or if your staff travels a great deal, particularly if they spend extended periods in a few locations, taking space in various office suites around the country may be worthy of consideration. Larger office suite firms can offer a package price to cover this. This can be an economical means

of establishing the equivalent of a branch office network. Indeed, you can achieve even greater economies if you can share these spaces with one or more firms that have similar needs but which will not create serious time conflicts with yours.

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