By Jennifer Sorentrue The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
Palm Beach Gardens resident Dana Middleton and her husband, David, are the franchise owners of Intelligent Office, a company specializing in "virtual office" services such as phone, mail and other support.
Intelligent Office has more than 180 clients in the area, including lawyers, financial advisers, contractors and entrepreneurs. The company's team of employees answers more than 10,000 phone calls a month for local business owners.
With more business owners working remotely, it is important for them to stay connected to their customers, Middleton said.
Between 2003 and 2013, the number of businesses without paid employees -- or nonemployer businesses -- grew by 4.4 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
There were 23 million nonemployer businesses in the United States in 2013, up from 18.6 million in 2003, the Census Bureau found.
Intelligent Office also offers temporary office and meeting space. Middleton said its "boutique" style services sets it apart from "co-working" offices that allow business owners to rent space by the month or day.
"We customize solutions to all different types of businesses," Middleton said. "We work on behalf of the client. Everyone is treated special."
Name: Dana Middleton Age: 47 Hometown: Brewster, NY Where you live now: Palm Beach Gardens
Tell Us About your company:
A: My husband David and I opened Intelligent Office in September 2007. Intelligent Office is the leader in virtual officing solutions and office space solutions. I call it "an executive suite and virtual office on steroids." We offer services a la carte, so clients only pay for the professional services they use. Solutions include customized receptionist services, conference rooms and office space on an as-needed basis, and custom business solutions including administrative services, scheduling, sales order taking, making appointments and more.
Over the past 9 years as Owner and President of Intelligent Office, my main objective has been to focus on the customer. We have successfully grown and have developed a team of eight employees and currently service over 180 clients. My team and I support these companies in all aspects of their businesses. We strive to go above and beyond a client's expectations.
As an extension of our client's staff, we are able to help their businesses grow and thrive in this ever-changing economy. As a testament of our achievements, we won Small Business of the Year in 2011 with the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce. And, we were a Free Enterprise Honoree with the US Chamber of Commerce in 2012.
Question: How your business has changed?
A: As the economy changes, we adapt to our client's needs and change with them. When the market suffered in 2009, we assisted clients to downsize by offering our services so their customer service to their customers did not suffer, and it was very cost effective for them. As the economy has grown in this area over the past four or five years, we have supported many new businesses start up and establish themselves in a cost effective way, and we help minimize their risk by keeping their overhead costs low.
Question: What was your First paying job and what did you learn from it?
A: Dental assistant and front-end office support. I learned how to multi-task very quickly and work with patients.
Question: What was you first break in the business?
A: When I wanted to move out of the dental industry, I went to work for an international training and consulting firm. I leaped into areas I never knew possible by liaising with large and small companies in all different industries. I had opportunities in sales, operations, marketing, HR and even traveled extensively internationally. Best piece of business advice you ever received: Focus on the details. It is all about the customer.
Question: What do you tell young people about your business?
A: We are a service business. As such, you need to apply basic "old school" principals in customer service. Don't assume anything. Make sure you treat people the way you would want to be treated. Pay attention to the details. Customer service is extremely important. Customer service is not just a smile, it is a process.
Question: What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County?
A: We live and work in a fantastic area. There are many new developments happening which will afford us, as well as many other businesses to provide support to and ultimately grown. And, I love that Gardens has new and exciting controlled growth happening that will benefit all of us.
Question: Where can we can find you when you are not at the office?
A: I am a very active person, so, either playing golf, walking my dog, working out, out with friends or at the beach.
Question: What is you favorite smartphone app?
A: Xfinity TV remote. If I forget to record a program I want to watch I can program my DVR from sitting in my office.
Question: What is the most important trait you look for when hiring?
A: When interviewing, first impressions are important to me. I look for someone who is articulate, punctual, friendly, and outgoing. When receiving resumes via email I look for candidates who follow instructions on how to apply to the job posted.