The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is reporting that house prices are set to keep rising until 2020. The company is predicting that in London alone, the average house price will rise by 9.3% a year to £567,051 in 2020. In other areas such as the West Midlands, prices are expected to rise by 4.3% to £192, 249 and in the North West by 3.2% to £165,133.
This follows on from Chancellor George Osborne’s statement in February that the UK property boom was set to last for the next ten years, with demand continuing to outstrip supply. Furthermore, for office space, London was recently named the most expensive city in the world according to global property and investment firm CBRE, with office rents in certain areas of the city going for £100 per square foot.
The problem for businesses is that a London presence can seem like a necessary evil when you are a small company looking to attract new customers; particularly when a large proportion of your customer base is in the capital. However, the cost of office space is often prohibitive with a recent survey from YouGov finding in October 2013, 70% of tech SMEs were struggling to expand in the city for this reason.
Of course, creating the right impression is important, and companies need to maintain a professional up front image at all times. Even if you have just a few staff, if you generate an air of sophistication and scale, then customers are bound to take you a lot more seriously. But the reality is, the only real indication of a company’s location – particularly one offering a virtual service – to the majority of prospective customers, is its phone number.
Time was that to have presence in London meant just that – bricks and mortar (and spiralling rental costs) but thanks to changes in technology, when you dial that 0207 or 0208 phone number your call may actually be being answered by someone in Birmingham or even on a mobile.
Due to the latest generation of phone systems, a phone number no longer ties you to a physical location. For many businesses having a virtual London office, with 0207 or 0208 phone and fax numbers receiving and diverting calls, means the company itself can be based in the suburbs or another town or city altogether. Or if you are London-based but operate from your mobile you can have your virtual office calls redirected to your mobile without having to get BT to install a line.
This actually puts small companies at an advantage because unlike larger companies, they don’t need expensive fixed phone lines or the premises to house them in. Utilising mobile and virtual office technology they are able to respond quickly, efficiently and cost effectively to customer queries, regardless of where they are located; all while maintaining a local and more established image.
There is no difference when dialling a virtual London phone number or a virtual office. Calls ring through to the designated phone number and the chances are you’ve been dialling virtual numbers already (it’s the same as how 0800 numbers which aren’t tied to any location in particular work). But virtual local numbers also bring that ‘local’ image to the business – no matter where you are, the heart of the city or out in the country, people always tend to try local suppliers first!
Virtual numbers allow you to appear local, wherever local is, and can help improve productivity with the range of call management features that they bring. The systems are cost efficient (rent me a premises in London for a tenner a month and I’ll gladly move), are up and running in minutes and have a range of features including virtual receptionists and multiple extensions to make your business life easier.
You could battle the oligarchs for a slice of London life with ever increasing rental agreements by mortgaging yourself to the hilt, or enjoy the fruits of the digital age and not let your business be constrained by a physical location. Your virtual London office is just a few clicks away.