…or why a look in the refrigerator can be worthwhile.
In my last post, I went into detail about which professional groups or professional settings are particularly suited to using a business or office center. And I’ve already written quite a bit about the benefits of having a professionally managed office, including maximum flexibility, trained staff, and the ability to focus on the work at hand instead of dealing with travel reservations, paper jams at the printer, or a dripping coffee machine.
Today I want to give you a few tips on what to look for when choosing a business center. Because even though most things may look the same at many providers, the devil – as is so often the case – likes to be in the details.
So here goes:
When it comes to confidentiality and data protection, we Europeans are just a bit fussy. Rightly so, I think. Some business centers, however, unfortunately offer one or the other open flank here: Letters and business documents are sometimes lying around openly and easily visible, or packages are piled up in the reception area, sometimes even unattended.
I think the reception staff of a center operator should be extremely sensitized here. Ideally, colleagues are even specially trained in confidentiality and data protection. The decisive factor, of course, is the concrete implementation in everyday life. In other words, letters, parcels and documents must always be received personally and immediately “processed”, i.e. brought to the office, sent out according to the customer’s instructions or kept in a locked room or safe deposit box.
However, confidentiality also plays an important role when answering calls on behalf of the customer. If this is done by the same staff on site over and over again and not via a call center (which may be located somewhere else entirely), a personal relationship can gradually develop between callers and recipients. They know each other – at least by voice. This has an immediate positive effect on the customers who use the service, as their business partners or clients feel they are being treated personally and professionally. It is especially nice when the voices that are already familiar with each other on the phone also get a face during the first visit to the business center. This may not seem important at first. In the actual day-to-day business, however, it is a momentum that should not be underestimated.
In terms of conditions, there are naturally very different concepts in the market. From experience, I can only give you one piece of advice: Everything that is not clearly regulated in the contract carries risks – mostly high follow-up costs on your side. That’s why you should definitely pay attention to how prices evolve after the initial term. Extreme caution is required here. Extensions “at the then prevailing market price,” for example, are formulations with which the provider keeps the door open for later price increases. But also exaggeratedly favorable bait offers for rent-free periods should make you suspicious. They usually serve the sole purpose of attracting new customers. As soon as you have decided on the provider, communicated your new business address and changed your business papers accordingly, the new business relationship can quickly turn into expensive fun because the center operator charges high follow-up costs.
Other important criteria when selecting a business center are, of course, location, equipment, professional service and personal atmosphere. It simply makes a big difference whether I have to call an impersonal call center somewhere when I have a problem and hope that someone will help me, or whether an employee is on site within minutes who can solve the problem immediately.
Those who are entrepreneurial themselves also appreciate when a center is solid and owner-managed and the “boss” can be spoken to directly if necessary. Rapid growth and size alone do not offer the customer any advantage – rather the opposite. This is also illustrated by the example of coworking spaces and office space provider WeWork, whose planned IPO has just failed miserably.
The story of one of our customers shows just how important a strong customer focus and individuality are: As requested, this company – a US corporation – was able to design its offices freely, i.e. in the colors of its corporate identity, with sofas, PlayStation, etc. We gladly took over the furnishing and coordination of all the work and even took care of the necessary purchases. It was, according to enthusiastic feedback, the “world’s best service we’ve ever experienced.” There is probably nothing to add to that.
The next blog in November will be about the different usage and contract models for business centers and what you should look out for.
Until then, good luck to you in your work.
With warm regards
Your Christian Schmidt
Christian Schmidt has been working in the business centre industry since 2005 and is one of the most experienced protagonists in this business. Eight years in management positions at industry leader Regus have taught him all the facets of this business. The business administration graduate has been an entrepreneur since 2014 and has built up five top locations in Hamburg. His declared goal right from the start: To help companies and the self-employed find a location that suits their business. Where they can grow and possibly downsize. Where they can find a solution customised to their current business situation. To offer a great service that is unobtrusive but absolutely reliable.