Meadow CreekNews

Beware of Hidden Costs in Office Space, Virtual Offices and Meeting Rooms

Filed under Office Space & Virtual Offices on February 4, 2011

We were doing our quarterly review of area business centers’ office space, virtual office and meeting room pricing. Rental rates are down from their highs of 2008, but not for setup fees, non-refundable deposits and hidden extras. I’ve often wondered why corporations with high expectations on their rates of return were in the executive suite business in the first place. Now I know!

Here’s a list of things we ran into:
Setup fee – this is pretty standard, but initial setup fee, administrative setup fee, phone setup fee, voicemail setup fee, directory listing setup fee, internet connection setup fee…wow!
Moving in – some charge you a cleaning fee before you’ve had a chance to mess things up
Metered mail – some charge you a mark-up on postage
Prepare certified mail – that’s an adder
Not able to pick up a package – pay a fee for overnight storage or for someone to take it to your office
Need to borrow a dolly or hand truck to move your package – you may see that on your next invoice
Conference rooms – almost all business centers limit tenants free access
Need the internet during your meeting – plan on paying for that at most locations
Lock yourself out of your office – pay up to get back in
Security deposits on virtual offices – I wonder if you can pay that in virtual money?
Special instructions for the receptionist today – that will cost you

And the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in the business too. We earn a living by providing a necessary and valuable service to our clients. At Meadow Creek, we are also in the hospitality business. We don’t want our clients to be afraid of approaching the reception desk for fear that it will blow their monthly budget. Certain things are just expected when you’re paying a healthy sum of money for an office.
I spent the first 25 years of my career in management at a Fortune 500 industrial company. I can’t claim to be an expert in business center management. Maybe the other guys are right. One thing I do bring with me from my past is the need to be easy to do business with. We are not going to nickel and dime our clients to death. We expect to be paid when we take on extra workload for our clients, but that doesn’t include helping them get back in their office when they left their keys on the desk.
I suspect it would be nearly impossible to implement this kind of strategy in an owner-managed facility. Clients would be lined-up outside my office wanting explanations for a dozen additional charges on their monthly billing. People trying to figure out how the first month’s invoice for a $150 virtual office is $500. The large chains can do this by staffing their front desk with a young person with no authority. Have a problem with your bill, call corporate and deal with the call center in Bangalore.
At Meadow Creek, you can find office space, virtual offices, shared office space and meeting rooms for a competitive price and no ridiculous add-ons.
Richard Gabel

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