Nowadays, more and more entrepreneurs prefer to work from a local café or their home because it is not only cheaper but also more comfortable (and arguably productive). Any startup that has professional meeting spaces, an appropriate business address as well as all the benefits associated with a real-world office (which are all key benefits of virtual offices) will be able to compete with other businesses that have a physical presence.
However, virtual office space providers need to have certain features in place to be able to fulfill the needs of your business. If you choose a provider that does not have these features and services, you won’t enjoy the flexibility that comes with using one (or the greater benefits).
This article does not include typical FAQs concerning virtual offices, such as “What is a virtual office?”, “What are the benefits of a virtual office?”, “What features are included in a virtual office?”, “How does a virtual office work?”, etc. If you still have doubts concerning the answers to these questions, I recommend you read this post. It will help you clear up any confusion.
In this post, you will discover the mandatory features, services and benefits that your potential virtual office space provider MUST have before you choose to sign-up to their services. In other words, you will learn how to make the difference between a premium virtual office and an ordinary (or below standard) virtual office.
To be honest, you can evaluate your virtual office provider by asking these 26 essential questions. If you arrive at the conclusion that your virtual office provider has all of these 26 features, it means that your virtual office is definitely worth it. But if not, potentially keep hunting.
Also, just so you are aware, I will include in my answers a short explanation concerning the strategies that B2B HQ is applying so that you have a point of reference when doing your own research..
Table of contents:
- Does the virtual office building include an on-site receptionist?
- Do I have 24/7 access to facilities and mail?
- Do I get a physical and secure mailbox?
- Does my mailbox have multiple mail recipients?
- Is a package receiving and storage feature included in my virtual office?
- Should I pay for my virtual office set up?
- Is my virtual office provider flexible enough to allow me to scale up?
- Can I register my virtual address with ASIC?
- Does the virtual office provider send mail and parcel notifications?
- Does the virtual office offer on-site facilities?
- Do I get a unique business suite virtual address?
- Are additional fees requested for post and parcels handling?
- Are there any add-ons available for my mail processing?
1. Does the virtual office building include an on-site receptionist?
The reception of any virtual address and office organization is always the first point of contact with clients or customers and this must be in top shape. You also need an efficient receptionist to handle issues such as sorting mail, receiving packages, and greeting attendees that arrive at the front desk.
The receptionist must be on the ground especially at peak times when deliveries commonly occur to receive and attend to them and to greet your guests when they arrive to meet you while using a meeting room.
Eg, at B2B HQ, there is a receptionist desk upon entry that is manned during the day for deliveries, meeting attendees, etc to ensure smooth support for all customers and their visitors.
2. Do I have 24/7 access to facilities and mail?
One of the advantages of having a virtual office is the defiance of time zones and office hours, in support of you operating your business at any time. Your virtual office provider should not limit you to the regular 9 am to 5 pm or weekday operation only.
You should be able to receive your mail on any day of the week and any time of the day.
Eg, at B2B HQ, the facilities are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there is no exception on public holidays (besides the manned reception area), meaning that your mail, professional meeting rooms, etc are always available.
3. Do I get a physical and secure mailbox?
Although it is called a virtual office you need to have a physical mailbox present on-site to ensure that your private mail is separate from everyone else’s (and available for pick-up when no receptionist is present). An ideal physical mailbox is one with keyless entry that gives you mailrooms that are private and accessible to you.
Eg, at B2B HQ, there are 2 separate mailrooms, which are not publicly accessible and every occupant has their own secure and locked mailbox (just like a post office box but with more security).
4. Does my mailbox have multiple mail recipients?
The mail service option should include a multiple recipient option that will allow you to accept and use both personal name and business name to receive messages.
Some virtual office providers only limit you to the use of one name so you need to verify to know what your options are.
Eg, at B2B HQ, we allow a business to receive mail under the business’s name and one of the owners’ names, this is to ensure that in the odd occasion when mail gets sent to the business or person by accident, the mail can be sorted appropriately.
5. Is a package receiving and storage feature included in my virtual office?
Your virtual office provider should have an onsite feature that allows you to send small to medium packages to your mailing address and also store them for short periods of time, if required.
Some virtual office providers do not have this feature and you need to verify what is included in their package before you subscribe to their service.
Eg, at B2B HQ, there are designated locations for the storage of small to medium-sized packages and we will receive and store the package for our customers to ensure its security and their convenience.
6. Should I pay for my virtual office set up?
Setting up and creating your new address should not take the provider a lot of time, so there should be no cost attached to this process. This means that you can be up and running in no time with your new address and without unnecessary cost.
At most everything should be set within a few hours and the process needs to be seamless.
Eg, at B2B HQ, it only takes a few hours for a client’s account to be set up in the system and a physical mailbox to be provisioned, there is no ($0) set up fee on any of the virtual packages.
7. Is my virtual office provider flexible enough to allow me to scale up?
When starting out as a small business you might not need all the features available and there should be a custom option where you get to select only what you need at that moment in time.
As you grow you can then add more features without having to commit to Lock-In contracts from day one.
Eg, at B2B HQ, we understand that businesses grow (or shrink) and that is why we have options for no-lock in contracts, the ability to grow to larger virtual office packages (eg, with an AU landline phone number or monthly meeting room access), and allow the customers to use a package that is right for them.
8. Can I register my virtual address with ASIC?
Although you are getting a virtual address, the address should be able to be used for Business Registration or to receive notices from the Government. This is a vital point to note because when you want to register your business name with bodies like ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission), ATO (Australian Taxation Office), etc it will not be possible to use a post office box or other unknown addresses.
Eg, at B2B HQ, unlike a Post Office Box or other providers that have clients share addresses, all of our clients have a unique mailing address that can be used to register their business to and be associated with ASIC.
9. Does the virtual office provider send mail and parcel notifications?
Your virtual address provider should be able to send you SMS or email notifications whenever you receive a parcel.
This can be set to go out every time a message comes in so you can keep up with your messages without delay.
Eg, at B2B HQ, each client is notified via email for every piece of mail or parcel that they receive, which removes their need for checking mail to “see’” if anything has arrived and to only tend to their mailbox “knowing” there is something.
10. Does the virtual office offer on-site facilities?
Your virtual office provider should be able to cater for essential office needs and provide facilities for printing, laminating, photocopying, scanning, or shredding.
This feature will help you settle day-to-day activities within your virtual office without hassles.
Eg, at B2B HQ, there is a dedicated office facility area that clients use to sort their mail, shred unwanted letters, scan business files as well as print meeting notes after the use of the available meeting rooms.
11. Do I get a unique business suite virtual address?
There should be a special address dedicated to your business alone and not some generic address shared by thousands of businesses registered to the same address.
For example, if you were given a suite address as against a sub-suite, that will give your business more prestige and perceived value.
Eg, at B2B HQ, we deliberately obtained a ground floor address, which allows all of our clients an easy address (e.g., “Suite 3, 139 Cardigan St”) instead of other virtual addresses which are either shared among many businesses or highly complicated that results in lost mail / prospective clients (e.g., “Suite 43 of 400, Level 15, 101 Collins St”).
12. Are additional fees requested for post and parcels handling?
Your ideal virtual office provider should be able to handle services like receiving your mail, sorting them, and forwarding them as well in addition to notifying you about the messages.
This service should be a part of your subscription without additional fees, however, a lot of virtual office providers are looking to make more from their customers by charging them for this service.
Eg, at B2B HQ, we do not charge for reasonable receipt, sorting, or storing of mail, meaning that our customers do not receive unexpected invoices for hidden fees or charges that were not known upon signing-up.
13. Are there any add-ons available for my mail processing?
One valuable feature that you should not compromise on, is the additional service for scanning, forwarding, or shredding of your mail received on our behalf.
It does not necessarily have to be done every day. You can have a weekly/monthly schedule or something similar to help you follow-up with your mail. This kind of service can even be found within basic packages without breaking the bank.
Eg, at B2B HQ, we have add-on options to have mail scanned and emailed on a regular basis or to have mail forwarded to a separate address and even the ability to have all received mail shredded upon request.
I will wrap up there but this post will be continued. Soon I will share the second part of the complete list of questions that I strongly recommend you should ask before choosing a virtual office provider for your growing business.
However, if you have any additional questions in the meantime or you’re interested in having a virtual tour of our offices, the B2B HQ team would be more than happy to assist you. Also, if you’re already considering getting a virtual office before reading my forthcoming post (the second part of this article) and you believe that our virtual offices are a good choice for your company, it would be a pleasure for us to provide your business with essential key features that will smooth your path to success.
Here is a link to the other half of the post, click here to read: “26 Questions to Ask Before Getting a Virtual Office – Part 2”