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 June 1, 1999

The Intelligent Office sells first franchises

BOULDER — With his business, The Intelligent Office, Ralph Gregory is challenging the basic images of work: office, desk, managers, water cooler gossip.

Gregory’s idea of work allows for sleeping in, taking a 10 a.m. kickboxing class, picking up the kids after school or working after bedtime from the kitchen table — in Hawaii.

In the world Gregory has created, no one misses a phone call, productivity is up exponentially and costs are dramatically cut. And Gregory is sharing his world with several hundred people. It’s so popular that he has started franchising his concept.

After two name changes and a few wrong turns, The Intelligent Office, formed in 1995, is taking telecommuting and executive suites to a whole new level.

“It is so subtle and elusive. It is so different and subliminal, but the impact is so huge,´ said Gregory about the concept behind the business.

The concept includes all the trappings of an office, without the cost of leasing space, buying equipment and paying employees to be there. Now workers can set their own schedules, meet clients “at the office” or another location, and keep the appearance of a professional atmosphere with a beautiful building and receptionist.

In Boulder, about 350 businesses call 4450 Arapahoe Ave. “their office.” While physical space doesn’t allow for that many businesses in one building, The Intelligent Office offers a slew of services for that many to route all their business through the building via phone and fax lines.

Customers are billed monthly for a dedicated business line, receptionist services, which include voice mail, a person answering each call and forwarding to whichever number given. Other charges include a locked mailbox, fax line, business address and a la carte offerings such as rented conference space, office space, directory listings, listing on lobby directory, desktop publishing and more. In Denver’s Cherry Creek district, The Intelligent Office handles a few hundred more businesses.

Soon, thousands of businesses will have homes across the United States similar to 4450 Arapahoe Ave. On March 22, Gregory began franchising The Intelligent Office. Gregory took his idea to International Franchise Show in Washington D.C. and “knocked them out.”

“We came out of the gate very strong,” Gregory said.

Indeed. The Intelligent Office was one of three finalists for the 1999 Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award. In April, they received registered trademark status.

The president of the Franchise Marketing Associates Ltd. immediately took Gregory under his wing as one of three businesses he represents. So far, franchises have been licensed in Tampa, Orlando, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach in Florida. And Gregory is expecting one in Cleveland and Washington, D.C.

“It was my decision that I wanted to launch this franchise at this show because it really should be an international franchise,´ said Dennis Ballen of FMA. “It is the kind of service that can be used all over the world. We’re not dealing with a product that needs to be shipped or go through customs. If they have telephones, it can work.”

The fee to buy a franchise from FMA, the exclusive marketer of The Intelligent Office, is between $200,000 and $300,000 on average, of which $28,000 goes to FMA for license fees. Gregory earns 5 percent royalties on each franchise, and according to Ballen, they are selling like hotcakes.

“It’s really a piece of cake,” Ballen said. “The franchise is real. It’s clean. It’s 9 to 5, it’s Monday through Friday and it does well.”

BOULDER — With his business, The Intelligent Office, Ralph Gregory is challenging the basic images of work: office, desk, managers, water cooler gossip.

Gregory’s idea of work allows for sleeping in, taking a 10 a.m. kickboxing class, picking up the kids after school or working after bedtime from the kitchen table — in Hawaii.

In the world Gregory has created, no one misses a phone call, productivity is up exponentially and costs are dramatically cut. And Gregory is sharing his world with several hundred people. It’s so popular that he has started…

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