As more people start online businesses, there is a trending need for virtual office services. Consequently, the virtual office market has grown considerably in recent years.
Whilst the plethora of providers makes it easier for online business owners to access virtual office services, it also makes choosing the right partner a difficult decision.
First and foremost, you need to decide what you need for your business. Virtual office services include mailing address, mail forwarding, telephone answering, receptionist. Many providers also offer hot-desks, private offices and meeting rooms.
Below is a list of questions that we recommend you ask virtual office service providers before deciding who to partner.
What Postal Address Will I Have for My Business?
One of the perks of a virtual office is you can use their postal address as your trading address, and even your official registered office. To get the best value for money, opt for a cheap virtual address in a prestigious central London location. This will project a positive image for your business.
Do You Offer A Virtual Assistant?
Some virtual office space providers employ a receptionist who can also be on hand to meet your clients and field your telephone calls if you need to include other virtual office services in your package.
How Does Your Telephone Answering Service Work?
A telephone answering service is a useful add-on for many online businesses, especially if you receive a lot of calls that distract you from your work.
Ideally, you want a telephone answering service that offers a dedicated landline which will be answered under your business name by a professional receptionist. Calls will then be forwarded on to you with caller ID. If you are unable to take the call, the receptionist will take a message and notify you by email.
How Does Your Mail Forwarding Service Work?
A key component of a virtual office is the company handles your post and forwards it on to you. Ideally, you want a service that enables you to access your mail without additional charges. These days, most firms will scan your mail so you can access it from your mobile phone.
Other services require you to collect the post from the service centre yourself, or they will forward the physical version to you via Royal Mail. Ask whether additional charges are added on for this?
Do You Sign for Parcels?
Not all virtual office service providers or PO Box service providers will sign for parcels on your behalf. If this is an important prerequisite for you, make sure the service is offered. You should also ask whether they have a maximum size restriction also.
Do You Have Meeting Rooms, Hot-Desks and Private Offices?
Many virtual offices are also co-working spaces and have amenities you would typically expect in a fully-functioning office. Such facilities can come in very useful to online businesses.
For example, working in a co-working environment is a good way to network and make new friends. It also gives you a change of scenery and the buzz of being in an office.
Ask the service provider how much they charge for private rooms, dedicated desks and hot-desks, and whether you can rent them by the hour.
There may also be times you need to meet with a client for a face-to-face meeting. Hiring a meeting room at an hourly rate at the virtual office space gives you the opportunity to make a good impression.
Ask how much notice you will have to give in advance to book a room. Also, ask whether you lose the deposit if the meeting is cancelled. Some providers offer a refund if you give them more than 24-hours’ notice.
What Are Your Business Hours?
For online business owners that expect to use additional virtual office services, knowing the providers operational hours may be a decision-maker.
You want to be assured the receptionist will be available to take calls – especially if you have clients in different time zones. You may also prefer to work late and need a hot-desk that is available in the evening rather than standard 9-5 office times.
Are There Any Additional Fees?
This is a very important question because a lot of virtual office service providers do not advertise the full price of their services. There can sometimes be hidden costs involved such as a security deposit, admin fees to set you up and VAT.
Whilst discussing payment terms you should also ask how much notice you need to give for cancelling the service and whether you can set up a direct debit for rolling payments.
LowCost LetterBox is proud to offer a fully comprehensive virtual office service – with no hidden charges. Feel free to call us and ask any questions from this list and, of course, any other questions you may have. Our friendly and professional staff is happy to answer any questions you have.