Conveying to Clients Your Virtual Setup is Legit

Virtual office environments have numerous benefits, but some clients or prospects are concerned about the idea of non-traditional business setups. You can overcome this objection by making the face of your business as professional as possible. In the December 2009 issue of HOW,  I interviewed Shannon Carter, president of the Cartis Group, about his brick-and-mortar firm’s switch to a virtual setup.

Recently, I connected the dots between Carter and a reader with the above concern. Here’s the advice Carter dolled out:

  • Have a physical address for your contact information–no PO boxes on your business collateral.
  • Make sure your website is updated and has good contact information. (They will check.)
  • Make sure your business e-mail address matches your website address— (no gmail or hotmail addresses).
  • Have a dedicated business phone presence and ensure your phone system presents a professional image—do not use your cell or home phone and personal voicemail.
  • Turn a potential negative into a positive. We tell our cliets: “Cartis Group is the antithesis of a high-priced agency that needs to support an outdated infrastructure. We are not bound by traditional office space nor outdated norms of business practices.”
  • Make sure you have professional, on-demand meeting space for large meetings or prospects who want to come to you. There are several companies that rent this type of space by the hour, day or month.
  • If you have a home office, make it as professional as possible—a separate outside entrance if possible.
  • Lastly, remember what business you’re in, and it’s probably not selling prospects on the benefits of virtual office environments. If they can’t get past the idea of you not having traditional office space, then they are not a good fit. Move on.

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0 thoughts on “Conveying to Clients Your Virtual Setup is Legit

  1. David Cecil

    Our office is virtual as well, and Carter makes a great point at the end there. If a client is hung up on the fact that you don’t work from a traditional office, they are probably not going to be a good fit anyway; it’s best to move on and find opportunities that think having a virtual office gives you a unique advantage.

    David Cecil | Owner, Strategist
    Johnny Lightning Strikes Again
    Web Design. Graphic Design. Branding.

  2. Amy Moore

    Great piece! I agree with this 100%. Just because you work from home does not mean you can skimp on professional behavior either. I’ve had clients who were new to using virtual services and they were skeptical but I quickly calmed their fears. I have yet to have come across a single one that was so adamantly against a virtual office though. Most understand that the-times-they-are-a-changing and they are quite open to the idea. You do not, however, want to come across as a mommy in jammies. Remember, this is a job just like any other job and should be treated as such. Always put your best face forward whether they see it or not and that will come across in the work you do and the interactions you have with your clients.

  3. hikmatullah

    hi my deaer i am apprecitwe from your this website mixing and website makking basically lesson i hope to you countinue you teaching trining for me becuse i need it i am notprofessional, it is hard for me i am unprefered freelancer! your sincerely afgh kabul.

  4. mark

    Good article. I agree with most of the advice, but strongly disagree with the point about PO Boxes. Many brick/mortar shops use a PO Box and if you don’t have a commercial space, people will see that very quickly from a Google Street View search. Out of curiosity I searched the Cartis address and, sure enough, there’s somebody’s home. To me that can come across much more unprofessional than a PO Box.

  5. Shala Graham

    Very good advice. While I don’t work from home anymore, the rest of my team is virtual. When I did work from home with a PO Box, I noticed a significant increase in clients after my address showed a formal business address. So even though our second location is virtual, I made sure to rent a virtual office to maintain the professional business appearance.

  6. Shannon Carter

    Mark, the idea of “no PO boxes” is not to hide the fact that you work from home. Quite the contrary…a virtual office is all about transparency and honesty. I am proud to say I work from home—taking at least one car off the streets at rush hour—only heating, cooling, and lighting one environment—cutting my commute time to…well…nothing. “No PO boxes” is more about showing a physical address and looking less transient. I choose to make this address my home but you could just as easily pick an executive office environment with a physical address.