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How Servcorp’s call handling streamlined my business.

Virtual Office client at Shinjuku Oak City

photography photo studio call handling small business

A Virtual Office provides the essentials to starting a business, such as a business address and phone number, without having to rent actual office space. Not only does this cut out the hefty costs of setting up your own office, it can also cut down on personnel expenses with services like Call Forwarding and Call Handling.

We sat down with Ms. Naoko Iwata, CEO of Ahora Works Corporation, a photo studio with a portfolio that ranges from food and advertisement photography to weddings, family photos, and ID / Business Profile Photos. As business began picking up for her company it became increasingly difficult to handle all of the customer inquiries and business operations. That’s when Ms. Iwata decided to sign up for a Virtual Office at Servcorp’s Shinjuku Oak City location where she makes use of the Call Handling services. We discussed her experience using a Servcorp Virtual Office and how it changed her business.

“While I faced many difficulties training part-time workers who tended not to stick around very long, with Servcorp’s secretaries I had complete confidence from day one that they could take care of the office work I required.”

Ms. Naoko Iwata, CEO 
Ahora Works Corporation
Shinjuku Oak City
Virtual Office client

Running a top-quality studio that attracts 1 in 3 customers from referrals.

Tell us about your company…

I started this company about 9 years ago in 2010 as a photo studio for ordinary people. Besides studio portraits we also took photography at our customers’ offices and events. We started in a small studio in Shibuya which we mostly used for taking ID and resume photos. Eventually it got to the point where we had to start turning away potential customers during the busy season, because we didn’t have enough space. That’s when I decided to open our second location in Shinjuku.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

Before setting out on this venture I was the manager of a photo studio. Since the studio was located in a wedding hall the time, location, and style of photography was all predetermined. Eventually I grew dissatisfied and wanted to take photos in different settings and with more creative freedom. That’s when a fellow cameraman and I decided to start our own company, Ahora Works Corporation. My business partner was originally an advertisement and magazine photographer who also did consulting for wedding photography, so when we first started this company we received a lot of advertisement production jobs.

Eventually we created a website, and I remember being so excited when we started receiving reservations from individuals and not just companies. After that we started getting more and more customers who had heard about us via word of mouth. Now roughly a third of our customers come from referrals.

What made you glad you started your own business, and what was difficult about it?

Having full creative control of the photos I take has been one of the biggest benefits. Of course with every benefit comes a challenge like having to find work on your own to keep jobs flowing in. If you can achieve that then I think it’s very worthwhile.

"If, for example, I’m out of the studio for a meeting I will check and see if there is a Servcorp location nearby and spend my free time working from one of their coworking spaces. They are quiet and allow me to focus on my work.”


Example image: Coworking Space at Servcorp Hibiya Central Building

Top-class secretaries who provide comprehensive business support

Why did you decide to get a Virtual Office?

When most people hear Virtual Office they think of an address and phone number for their business, however, when I heard that Servcorp also offers a call handling option I was very intrigued.

Our company has an abundance of cameramen and hair-and-makeup stylists in the studios, but we are lacking people who can take care of the office work. Especially in the peak season we need someone who can handle the phones, respond to emails, and take reservations, however, even if we hire part-time staff for these tasks they usually end up quitting after a year. It takes a lot of time and money to hire and train someone to fill these positions, so it can be very difficult.

When I heard from a friend that Servcorp offers secretarial services covering call handling, administrative work and more I thought, “That’s perfect!” Not to mention if you sign up for Servcorp’s Virtual Office you can use any of their Coworking lounges around the world for 3 hours a day for free. The Shinjuku Oakcity location which has a relaxing lounge space is within walking distance from our Shinjuku studio, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

It appears you were more concerned with the secretarial services than actual office space.

That was the case at first. After I started using Servcorp’s Virtual Office I began to take advantage of their secretarial services and coworking lounges. Not only at Shinjuku Oakcity, but if, for example, I’m out of the studio for a meeting I will check and see if there is a Servcorp location nearby and spend my free time working from one of their coworking spaces. They are quiet and allow me to focus on my work.

While I faced many difficulties training part-time workers who tended not to stick around very long, with Servcorp’s secretaries I had complete confidence from day one that they could take care of the office work I required.

Increasing sales and productivity with top secretarial support.

What made you choose Servcorp out of all the other office provider options?

The reason I went with Servcorp was undoubtedly the professional secretaries who handle our calls. I contacted them first to get more information on their services, and ended up signing up with them right away. One of the many perks is that the contract is obligation free, so should I need to I can cancel at any time.

“During the busy season I can have all of the calls handled by the Servcorp secretaries, so I can focus on my work which has already led to an increase in sales.”


Image: Ms. Iwata and her Servcorp secretary
Have you used the secretarial services for anything other than call handling?

The main tasks I ask of them are taking reservations via phone or email, but sometimes I ask for their help creating simple business documents or searching for something that isn’t terribly difficult to find. I’ve created a simple manual so there isn’t much need for constant communication and my Servcorp secretary is able to work almost completely independently. The Servcorp secretaries understand what to do without the need for a very detailed explanation which helps, and I can be completely confident in their work. During the busy season I can have all of the calls handled by the Servcorp secretaries, so I can focus on my work which has already led to an increase in sales.

Who would you recommend Servcorp to?

Since you immediately gain access to an address for your business and Servcorp’s excellent staff to handle your calls and manage your packages, I definitely recommend them to anyone who is starting their own business. Servcorp also offers monthly contracts, so should your situation change and you need to cancel your contract you can do so quickly. If you use Servcorp for a month I’m sure you’ll notice the difference, so if you’re not sure then test it out. You know what they say, you never know until you try it.

 

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