Pick a city, any city. Now Google “virtual offices [name of city]. Voilà! Up will pop dozens of providers of virtual offices. Now what?
Now it’s time to sort through them, untangle the various deals and amenities, and decide which one will give you the most bang for your buck. And that can take a while. But knowing what to look for helps. And here important things you need to find out before you pull the trigger:
- Is there a business center/serviced office behind the virtual office? You might be surprised how many buildings offer virtual office addresses without bona fide offices. Make sure that the address you purchase is actually connected to real office space.
- How many locations does the provider offer? And can you use meeting or office space at them?
- How is mail managed? There are varying levels ranging from simply a box of mail to providing specialized services. Make sure you get what you need.
- How can you “preview” the receptionist? You want to know how your phone is being answered and how skilled they are at tackling general questions about you and your business.
- What access is included with monthly fee? Can you use meeting space? Coworking space? How about access to the kitchen or café area?
- Can you attend events, seminars, mixers? First of all, not all serviced offices host events. Find one that does and that will include some or all of their events as part of your monthly virtual office fee. There is huge value in attending mixers and other events where you can connect with potential clients or future business partners.
- What other services and amenities are included? The devil is in the details. Some providers, such as Regus, are adept at marketing their virtual offices to fit tight budgets. The only hitch is once you’re in you’ll find additional charges for just about everything. That’s why it’s important to find out in advance what is included. As an example, if you’re nearby and want to drop in, is there free parking? If you need to fax something can you access their business center?
- For those things not included, what discounts are available? Many virtual providers of virtual offices will give you deep discounts on meeting space, office space and other special services. Find out what the cost will be in advance.
Remember, you are buying more than an address. Make sure you know the building as well as the office provider. The best way to do that is to select your virtual office as though you were selecting physical office space. Walk around in it, if even through a virtual tour. Why? Because you may be walking through its doors more often than you think. And what might start out as virtual, could become a reality.