A virtual office is a great way to add legitimacy to an online business and gain access to physical office space when you need it, while saving loads of money you’d otherwise spend leasing or renting a permanent business location. While the selection process is fairly simple, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before making a final decision.
Here are 8 things to consider when choosing a virtual office:
Ask yourself what your virtual office’s ideal business hours should be. Do you, your staff, or your customers require access during business hours only, or is 24/7 a necessity? This can be a big issue when you arrive in town after-hours and the office is locked down, or when a customer drops by and the receptionist charged to your business isn’t on the clock.
Does the provider offer growth packages to meet the demands of your growing business? You may want additional offices, or access to more amenities as the business grows. Some virtual office providers are bare-bones operations and may not be able to meet additional needs as they arise.
2. Types of businesses using the same address
Virtual offices can be likened to offshore bank accounts in some respects. Just as there are a lot of good folks using virtual addresses, there are also plenty who use them to avoid having the people they do business with find out who they actually are and where they reside. And, you can certainly bet many of your potential customers will check your address out on Google before doing business with you!
Always run a search on the address options provided before signing on the dotted line with any provider. You might be pleasantly surprised to see you’re sharing virtual office space with really respected businesses. You can also neglect to check and later find out your business is associated with some kind of MMO scammer or the like.
3. Physical location
Even if you find your address checks out and is reputable, you’ll want to consider how convenient it will be for you and your clients if you plan to visit a location regularly, or plan to have people stop in for some reason. You probably don’t want your staff or clients to visit seedy areas, nor would you want a location that’s hard to get to.
Many virtual service providers will also offer access to other offices aside from that which you choose to register your business at. Most will allow access in multiple cities throughout the world, often for a small additional fee, but not all. Do your homework!
What’s an office without access to basics like high-speed WiFi, printing, fax, landline phones, and VAs to help you get your business done while you’re visiting certain locales where you do business?
Then, there’s other potential essentials like phone forwarding and over-the-phone support to consider. Let your needs dictate the services you choose, rather than looking for the cheapest, or even most recommended option.
It’s important to note that not all business owners will require anything more than a physical address to register their business to. Others will benefit from having a fully functioning office equipped with the aforementioned technology access needed to conduct business in the modern world.
If you will require a local facility you can use while you and your team are in the area, the amenities offered by the virtual office provider can become an important factor in not only adding credibility to your business, but also saving you money on meeting rooms, lounges, etc.
6. Onsite staff
Though not a deal-breaker for everyone, your specific business may have a need for onsite staff to greet local clients, answer questions, or even just accept and forward various packages, including essential paperwork, to your actual location. Several providers offer this add-on service, while some do not.
Read through the features in the packages offered carefully, and don’t be afraid to call to confirm. After you’ve signed up and chosen a virtual office, it’s important to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for – either by doing your own stop-in or by asking/paying someone to verify the office actually has people manning a reception desk for you.
Real testimonials will tell you a lot about what level of service you can expect after laying your money down. It’s easy for a provider to promise they limit the number of businesses registered at a location, until you find out there are hundreds of businesses attached to the address, Or worse, show up to the physical facility only to find yourself bumping shoulders with dozens of other entrepreneurs.
Search multiple sources, without relying on those found on the provider’s website, as even the best are prone to deleting the negative to protect their brand. There’s really no way to spot cleverly placed phony reviews, so trust your gut and pay close attention to what the unhappy reviews say as much as the glowing and neutral ones.
Price is going to be an obvious consideration for everyone. However, before you go signing up for the cheapest option, consider everything mentioned already to get a good picture of the value you’ll be receiving. Money is a consideration, but it certainly can’t be the first on your checklist.
There’s a lot of virtual office providers that offer limited options on the cheap. Most times they’re overselling and providing little value. As with most areas in the market, you get what you pay for.
By keeping these 8 important factors in mind, you can rest easy knowing you’ve covered all the bases as far as protecting your business’s reputation and ensuring you, your staff, and your customers get the most out of the virtual office you choose.