Offering quality serviced offices, virtual office services and meeting rooms right in the centre of Tunbridge Wells, The Pantiles Chambers provides invaluable resources for businesses to flourish in the local area. We find out how it’s lending a helping hand to a wealth of clients from around town.
Tell us a little about the background of The Pantiles Chambers…
Pantiles Chambers has been operating as a business centre in Tunbridge Wells for 30 years. Badly hit in the recession and in need of modernisation, it was taken over in 2011 by 25-year-old Fleur Record Smith, who saw the appeal of the prestigious location.
What are some of the main services you provide for businesses?
Our motivation is to help small companies and start-ups focus on their business by offering them office space on simple, affordable and flexible terms, as well as secretarial support in handling their calls and post. As an independent centre, our focus is on offering a personal service with a strong working relationship with all our customers.
What areas do you have on offer and in what ways do you set the spaces apart?
We have 20 offices of varying sizes, from one to 10-person offices, as well as the very popular shared offices (‘hot-desking’). As we’re located in a period building, no two offices are the same, so we’ve exploited the style and character of the building to offer unique office spaces, enhanced by our recent refurbishment. We really want to move away from the sterile office space environment and provide an inspiring place to work.
What’s included in the offices themselves?
The offices are fully equipped with state of-the-art telephones, high-speed internet access and smart furniture. There’s also a communal kitchen and new chill-out zones with sofas on the landings. Our reception team offers a very personal and dedicated service to our clients, providing support with call and post handling, as well as a range of secretarial services. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an office with stunning views over the High Street!
Do you tend to attract a range of different clients?
We certainly don’t have any lack of variety in our customer base, which is great for occupiers, who make invaluable business connections throughout their stay. Our clients range from solicitors, insurance brokers and IT providers, to communications agencies and perfumers.
Is Tunbridge Wells a desirable location for them?
With fantastic transport links to London, Tunbridge Wells offers the advantages of a vibrant town centre, without the prohibitive costs of a London office. Our occupiers enjoy being in this part of town,which is less than five minutes’ walk to the train station, and surrounded by lively cafés and restaurants. For many of our clients who simply want to cut down their commute, the idea of walking to the office or having lunch on The Pantiles is very appealing.
Can temporary spaces be as beneficial as a permanent base?
There are several benefits of using temporary offices, the main ones being:
- Acquiring affordable office space without long-term financial commitments
- Cost savings with simple contracts and no legal fees
- The opportunity to upsize or downsize instantly into another office
- Time-saving, as the monthly fee is fully inclusive of bills, service charge, cleaning, waste etc.
How do your virtual offices benefit local businesses?
We act as an invaluable, cost-effective support for local businesses. Our virtual office services instantly give our clients a prestigious and credible business address, as well as a professional image, thanks to the personalised telephone answering service and access to meeting rooms, from £33 per month. For start-ups or small companies that need to focus on building their business, this extra support is highly valued.
Are start-ups a particularly big part of your client base?
Yes, especially for the virtual services, as we provide services for businesses in their very first steps, such as setting up a registered address or mailing address. Our meeting rooms enable start-ups to meet clients in an office environment, which is coherent with their business address and image, and the shared office spaces are generally the first step that clients will take once they decide to move away from their home office. We do, however, have a large customer base of longstanding, established businesses, which we see growing year on year.
Why are these spaces so important for your customers?
So many thriving local businesses started with an office here, where we provide cost-effective, short or medium-term office space. For start-ups that can’t yet commit to long-term leases, or for small businesses looking for simple and flexible terms, serviced offices are ideal. We can also accommodate businesses for very short-term needs during their building refurbishments or between office moves.
Has the current economic climate affected the demand?
Demand has certainly changed over the past few years; as the recovery is still slow, we find that clients appreciate the flexibility of short to medium-term rentals, as they’re wary of committing to long-term arrangements. We’ve seen a great rise in the demand for smaller office space, and particularly shared office space, which gives clients the opportunity to get out of the house and be in an office environment at very low cost. Our virtual services have grown strongly in the weaker climate, with many clients keen to start ventures, but running them from home until they feel confident enough to take up office space.
Where would you like to take The Pantiles Chambers going forward?
We aim to continue to provide vital support for start-ups and small businesses by offering a unique and inspiring workspace, capitalising on our prime location in the town. On the virtual office side of things, we’ll continue to focus on offering a
highly personal and flexible service, so as to differentiate ourselves from automated services or impersonal call centres.