What are your options for re-opening your business and even downsizing the space you rent? We’ll get to that today with my guest Tiija Berquist.
You’ve got questions about what the new normal looks like so do I. We’re going to get them answered now. Joining me today is my guest Tiija Bergquist, Sales Manager for Office Edge and Legal Edge. Good Morning Tiija. Good morning Jon. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join me and kind of update us on my ongoing series of what is the new normal look like because it doesn’t look like the old normal. Tell us a little bit about Office Edge Executive offices. What does that mean? And where can people find you geographically. So, in regard to office Edge toward South Florida family owned and operated company we have five locations in South Florida one in Palm Beach County and Boca to and Broward and two in Miami-Dade. We are executive office and virtual business solution provider. So, we provide turnkey offices and pretty much what that means is that they are fully furnished. They come with internet high speed internet, full receptionist services and full staff. It’s like you’re walking into an already established Office Suite and then when you get your key and you open your office. It’s furnished. It’s ready to go. All you have to do is plug in and start. We also provide what are called Virtual Business Solutions. So that can be anything from a professional mailing address for people who want to work from home and their business headquarters is at home, but they don’t want to advertise their home address for personal reasons or whatever and that can go all the way up to an address for receptionist services. So, you don’t need to answer your phones. We can do all that for you and be the intermediary. Conference room time. Virtual administrative support. Virtual paralegal support kind of provide you with staff without you actually having to have an office and overhead costs. So, they’re so somebody Professional Services for example could just say all I have to focus on is the revenue generating parts of my business and pretty much all the administrative part you guys take care of that. Did I read that right? That’s correct. Our goal is for our clients to be able to go home at the end of the day and spend time with their families and not have to feel like they have to be in the office longer than they need to or when they do get home not have to feel like they need to be torn between work and family we can take the minutia and the stuff that isn’t really making you money and take that off your hands so that when you are working its billable hours and then you can actually go home and have bit of a like and do things that you like to do. So, most people are familiar with different outsourcing models, but this outsourcing happens in their in their Office Edge location. And so, it’s outsourced but it’s in source you can walk over and talk to somebody who’s doing those things for you. They’re not in a call center overseas or something. Correct? And we do get questions like that a lot of times when people ask It is a call center is you know, so and so actually in the office and know all of the ladies are in in their respective offices. So, if there’s any work that you’re providing to us to do whether if you’re emailing it to us or you mail it or come in and you need us to do it, we’re doing it then there in the office. You know, we’re answering your phones were actually, you know in Sunrise or in Fort Lauderdale, so we’re not a Dallas-based call center whose answering calls for a company in Florida? We’re actually here we know what’s going on. And you know, if you want to come in and see us you can come in and see them. Awesome. So, let’s talk about the shape of The New Normal what I’m hearing from a variety of people is wait a minute. This remote workers are working from home or working from some whatever satellite you wanted to find this working out fine, and they’re finding themselves questioning how much commercial real estate they own or were leasing. And also, I think at the same time you have some people who had longer commutes saying I like to be in an office environment. I’d like to have a conference room, but I only need a once a week or twice a month. Do I really need to drive an hour and a half to go there? Are you seeing that kind of demand of people questioning how much square footage they had and what kind of commute they had. Yes, we’re actually seeing a lot more of people who have who had larger spaces and have employees and obviously since the employees had been forced to work remotely the companies that started to see that that wasn’t really as problematic as they thought it was going to be initially and that. They said it couldn’t be done but then they had to get it done. Exactly. So, they’re looking at alternative solutions and case in point. We did have one client that were actually working. We’re trying to work with now whether they land with us or whether they land with another company who really helping to guide them through this process because it’s new for them. They downsized from 16 people to 6, but they had a 16-person suite. So we’re trying to figure out some alternatives for them so that they can go workers can continue to really work remotely but come in when they need to meet with clients or come in when they need to just get out of the house for a little bit and kind of showing them the savings that they can get but we are getting a lot of people that are really they don’t really know this industry. It’s very new to them and they may not be ready to bite the bullet, but they’re asking a lot of questions and they want to know a lot of information. So really part of our job is to also educate people. I have zero problems taking calls on a times and telling them what the benefits are and kind of navigating them through this process. What are they again. Whether they land with us or not. I would rather somebody just make a decision that’s best. Then get a client that isn’t happy. Look part of part of most people’s jobs as education, you’re and the market is changing radically now the real estate market the job market the workspace people are questioning all the assumptions that have been in place for literally decades many decades. They’re questioning everything and I think what’s interesting Thing about office Edge is how much it provides on demand. So you pay for exactly what you need when you need it and if that was help getting a campaign out you have the help on demand in the office and then you’re not there’s no overhead anymore. And you need a conference room, you have a conference room. You have if you need a video conferencing beyond what we’re doing with just zoom you have higher end video conferencing available or AV services? Before the old model everyone had to invest in all of that themselves and now technology changes all the time people just say do I want to buy technology or do I just want to use it and let someone else update it and maintain it and do the security on it. Etcetera Etc. I mean you find people asking about that. A higher present and I think that the biggest thing with this industry and why it’s so beneficial. Right. Now in this moment that we’re living in is flexibility. You know, like you said we have all of the services that anybody would need they’re already ready to go. So, like you don’t have to pay the overhead costs as you would if you were in traditional real estate, you know, we have a high-volume printer copier that does everything from booklets to mailers hundred and twenty scans a minute. We have that access at your fingertips, so that don’t have to get into a three to five-year lease for the equipment. You know, we have the AV equipment and a lot of people think that if they want to come in and use a conference room that they have to have some kind of a contracted service with us. That’s not the case. We do have guest rates for people who maybe they’re totally fine working at home. But all of a sudden, they realized. “Oh, wow. I need a space for four people, and I don’t have access to that”, and they’ll call us. Is there any way can come in and use conference room? Sureand we can do it just on a one-time opportunity and a lot of times those clients actually end up using us over and over again and then they say well you can do this that and other also. Okay great. So yes, a lot of it is very on demand and it’s like you said you pay for what you use our administrative support its take per minute. So, if you use 32 minutes, you’re paying for 32 minutes, whereas some other providers do them and fix minute 15-minute intervals, right? Cool. Let’s talk about locations. You mention five locations your kind of strategic about where you where you locate you always seem to end up near a courthouse. You have a particular specialty with attorneys, but I know have people from all over the place, but talk to me about those locations so are so attorneys and the legal field is definitely our niche. To the point we have a sister company called Legal Edge Services. And what Legal Edge does is it provides on-demand support for attorneys. We have paralegals at all of our locations are certified paralegals. We have a certified court reporters and notaries at every location as well so we can provide digital court reporting throughout the Tri-County area we can do everything from dialing, corporate incorporation, transcription, translation Courier Services. Basically, you name it we can do it in regard to legal assistance. And again, it’s all the cost for everything is paid per minute with paralegal and legal assistance and then the court reporting, you know, we can really work in be flexible with that. It’s pretty much a pay per appearance. So, if you need a reporter for 10 hours. You’re not paying for 10 hours of time. You’re paying just one basic flat rate fee. We also you know do a lot of mediation support. A lot of mediators really need two spaces, you know, they’re mediating between groups will be made up you get along they don’t always find the same kind of separate them for a little bit. Exactly. So, one of the things that we noticed is that in this industry there really weren’t any other providers that work. Providing cost-effective mediation support they really charging mediators for two spaces, which it is little unfair because that’s what their business needs in order to operate. So, we kind of developed a very inexpensive flat rate that includes a room in breakout room and they actually pay end up paying almost less than an attorney would if they needed to deposition or something. So, because of that really the mediation support side of our business is growing which is why Most of our locations like these that are near courthouses. They’re in very high business areas. For instance, Brickell Avenue, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, off. So, Boca just off of 95 by Glades Road. It’s very central to West Palm or even East so we’ve kind of pick locations where people’s businesses are but then we’re also behooves them to maybe have two or three different addresses for marketing purposes so that they can pull from very populated business areas. The presence of somebody has business in Sunrise, which is the office that I’m at now, they may want to have a separate business address in Brickell or in Fort Lauderdale so they can be searchable. So, we want to make sure that we have addresses in those locations that people are really searching for business as well. So, they can have the admin support everything from reception that answers the phone as their business, right? It’s not a generic number. They have a specific their own number that you guys provided from reception to true secretarial to legal secretary, qualified legal aid and they can have multiple mailing addresses which you know for marketing. We like to have multiple physical addresses; you know for SEO and stuff. So that’s handy. Let me ask you something since the we’re kind of under the umbrella of The New Normal things are starting to open up. People are saying okay, I’ve got to get back into some kind of office. I have to see some clients. They’re thirsting for more face-to-face and we’re all trying to figure that out. Executive office plays so I’ve got neighbors who also have space there and my guests and their guests and so now there’s all this traffic do what kind of procedures do you have in place to mitigate risk? I’ll put it to you that way or people’s concerns about coronavirus or second wave. Sure, so I think to one of the things with office Edge and why we haven’t had to change so much. We’re with called the boutique provider. So, we are Services really our bread and butter we have I would say Gables is probably our largest office with 22 private offices in it a lot of other executive office locations or companies may have 90 offices Exactly so they’re very high traffic. We’re very low traffic naturally due to the number of offices that we have in our locations and one of the pre-qualifying questions that we ask people when they’re searching for office space with us is how high traffic is your business? You know, if we have a business that’s coming in that says I’m doing interviews all day long. It raises a red flag for us naturally prior to the Coronavirus, because we didn’t want a revolving door of people coming in. We really pride ourselves for having a quiet professional space low traffic where clients can come in, they can work. They’re not getting distracted. So, it actually worked out and benefited his because we didn’t have so many changes in regard to that that being said the changes that we did have to make and that we are implementing. Conference rooms we’re removing chairs. So, whereas we would have a large conference room they could hold 12 people were really trying to cut that size in half so that people don’t feel like they have to sit on top of each other. You can lower the density in this space. Lower the density exactly. You know, we’re asking that our clients and our clients wear masks in common areas until we’re told otherwise inside their own office if they want to have a mask on that’s up to them. But because that is their own space and they have the door shut. That is that that’s their choice. Most of our clients don’t have the doors open because again, we really try to keep the volume down like stores as well. Yes, and obviously cleaning procedures, you know, I’m in one of our conference rooms now, so as soon as I leave everything is going to be cleaned. It’s going to be sanitized. We’ve got touchless hand sanitizer and all of our conference rooms as well. We make sure that any mail that’s coming in is sprayed down with sanitizer and everything’s just very clean. We do have a cleaning company that comes in right now every day to make sure that everything stays clean. You know, we’ve removed rugs where maybe dirt can gather. We’ve spaced out chairs in the lobby and we’re looking at also staggering reservations. So we want to make sure that not all of our conference rooms, especially in our locations that sun rises a little larger in our locations. That might be a little bit smaller. We want to stagger those reservations. So, people don’t feel like there’s large groups so close to each other as well. So, we’re really just kind of trying to look at what’s going to make our clients feel comfortable and make sure that we Implement those changes to those things. We also have in our admin. We have a sign on the door. That just says please knock because the in the back-admin area difficult to have a mask on and answering phones. So, the ladies probably don’t have masks on their back and admin so we kind of have a please knock sign so that the clients know that they can get our attention, but they don’t have to walk in and feel uncomfortable. Plus. We’re also trying to keep the traffic minimal so that the staff isn’t getting sick and having tonight. You are right. That doesn’t help anyone. All right. Well, excellent Tiija. Thank you so much for joining us updating us on services that you offer that I think really represent the future of working this sort of everything on demand model I think is going to explode now. So, you are in the place at the time and thank you for taking your time to join me if people want to find you OfficeEdge.com. Yep. Okay, we’ll make that magically appear underneath you for a while. And again, thank you so much for your time Tiija, I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me.