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Why Small Businesses Need Mail Forwarding

Own a business? You probably need to deal with lots of mail too. Streamline your mail management by having all packages & snail mail forwarded and managed online.

 

Running a small business is never an easy task; depending on what industry and customers you are catering to, you have to deal with complex operations, HR, state regulations (and the list goes on.) What is more, is that there are several administrative tasks that require the attention of an already very busy owner. 

 

At the time of writing this blog, Covid-19 has set in as a new reality. Remote work places, social distancing and stay at home orders, have disrupted literally every business. The ones that were able to go online, were able to get through the storm and operate under new circumstances. Local businesses such as restaurants that were not heavily invested on digital alternatives, had no option but to shut down. 

 

Being able to pick up the mail, became critical; with everyone working from home, who is going to visit the office just to pick up the mail? Very inconvenient and a great time killer. 

 

Virtual address on a map

 

What Is Mail Forwarding? 

 

When you would normally receive mail at your business location, with mail forwarding, you are notifying the USPS to redirect the mail delivery and instead of sending to your former location, it forwards all mail to the new one. The best way to think of this, is if a business re-locates: what happens to all contacts who only know your former address? You would have to go through the list of all friends, business associates & customers, to inform them of the address (something not practical at all.)



With mail forwarding, all your mail gets redirected from your former location to your new location. All you need to do to get this process underway, is completed a change of address with the USPS. And within a few days, you’re all set to go. 

 

How to Forward Business Mail

 

Now, before we get on to the best way to start forwarding business mail (i.e. by signing up with a virtual mailbox service), let us take a look at how to just use the United States Postal Service to change your business forwarding address.

 

The first option that the USPS offers is opening a PO box. So, without further ado, we are going to get right into the details.

 

USPS PO Boxes for Business

 

PO boxes are offered at many local post offices and can be used for both personal and business use. They are secure, accessible, and easy to open online. But, it is worth noting that you still have to visit the post office once or twice a week to collect everything that came in; for some, this is enough to put them off.

 

Before you make up your mind, we will have a look at the pros and cons of using a PO box as your mail forwarding for business service.

 

The Pros of PO Boxes

 

  • It’s a secure way of receiving mail while you’re not in the office.
  • You don’t have to worry about packages sitting on your doorstep.
  • It is easy to keep confidential documents safe and private.
  • You can travel to your PO box whenever is convenient for you.
  • Some are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

The Cons of PO Boxes

 

  • You have no choice but to go to the physical box once, twice, or three times a week.
  • It isn’t as secure as a virtual mailbox since it is right next to everybody else’s box.
  • If your office moves far away, you will have to change your PO box as it won’t move with you.

 

USPS Business Mail Pickup

 

This option is for those of you who receive a lot of mail (or numerous parcels and packages that are too big for the largest PO box).

 

How Does It Work?

 

The post office will receive all of your business address mail forwardings once your office has moved or you have started working from home full time. Then, you arrange a time to collect all your letters, parcels, and packages, turn up, gather them up, and you’re all set!

 

How Do I Get Started?

 

If you’re interested (although we’d advise you to check out the pros and cons below before you settle), here is how to set up business mail pick up. It won’t take long, you will just need to supply two forms of ID and fill in a form.

 

  1. Find the PS Form 1093-C online.
  2. Print it out.
  3. Fill out the “Application for Post Office Caller Service” section.
  4. Take your completed form and two types of government-approved US identification. For your primary form, you can use one of the following (ensuring they are either federal, state, or tribal issued):
    1. State driver’s license
    2. Non-driver’s ID card
    3. Uniformed Service ID card
    4. US Armed Forces card
    5. Corporate identification
    6. US passport
    7. US passport card
    8. US university identification
    9. US permanent resident card
    10. Any ID card issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    11. US certificate of naturalization or citizenship
    12. Tribal identification card

For your secondary ID document, you can bring one of the following:

  1. Lease agreement
  2. Mortgage agreement
  3. Deed of trust
  4. Voter registration card
  5. Home insurance policy
  6. Vehicle registration card
  7. Utility bill
  8. Form I-94
  9. Vehicle insurance policy
  10. Decide which service option you want. This could be 1 year or 6 months.
  11. Pay the fee. Make sure you do this at the post office where you’ll be using this service is located. You can pay with a credit or debit card, cash, check, or money order.
  12. Pick up your business mail whenever you need to.

 

The Pros of Business Mail Pick Up

 

  • You can receive large items without worrying about whether they will fit in your PO box.
  • If there aren’t any PO boxes available, this is your chance to get an even better service.
  • You can pick up your mail whenever is convenient.
  • Your business can easily scale up without fear that it won’t be able to cope with the influx of mail.

 

The Cons of Business Mail Pick Up

 

  • You might not want to pay for a mail service that lasts a year or 6 months, especially if you are a start-up as it restricts you to one location.
  • You still have to travel to a specific location to receive your mail.
  • Could be quite time consuming depending on travel time.

 

Okay, now that you are familiar with the mail forwarding business address services that the USPS offers, it is time to show you where you should really put your money!

 

Why Does Your Small Business Need Mail Forwarding?

 

There are plenty of reasons why your small business needs mail forwarding! We are about to go through each one in turn but, if you haven’t got much time, just scoot down to the end of this section where you will find a quick-glance list.

 

So, if you are still with us, let’s jump straight into all the benefits you’ll reap once you set up a virtual mail forwarding service.

 

Convenience

 

When a package is shipped to you, and requires you to be around to pick it up, it can be problematic if you happen to be out of the office, visiting a job site or simply too busy to receive your parcel. What business owners end up doing, is signing up for a PO box to receive all packages and mail. That gives birth to a new problem; you need to allocate a certain day of the week to drive to your local post office location, stand in line, and get your mail. But what if you had someone sign for your package only with your authorization, and at the fraction of the cost of having your secretary do so? What if you could request that package is shipped on demand to your location, for up to 80% off typical shipping rates? The time saving and shipping costs advantage to this is pretty obvious.

 

Virtual mailbox on desktop and mobile

Mail Security

 

When you get mail at your location, it can usually be accessed by pretty much anyone who wants to get their hand on it. From ID theft, to mail theft and everything in between, having mail sit at a location without supervision or while you’re away, is probably not the best idea. When you have your mail outsourced, all packages are stored in a warehouse with 24/7 surveillance systems, and on-site security personnel. There is no safer place to store your snail mail, than at a mail forwarding facility. 

 

Security lock

Look Sharp

 

As a company, there is nothing worse than looking unprofessional, right? Well, if you are an online business, or have simply decided to register it under a PO Box or your home address, that comes with a number of issues.

 

Not only are there added security concerns that you need to consider (angry customers knowing your place of residence etc,) but your business does not look professional at all. A business registered with a post office box, surely does not look as good as a business registered under a real physical address.

 

business address location

Home Privacy

 

We already touched on this a bit, but when you decide you want to use your home address for business mail, you are exposing that address to literally every ill-intentioned person online. Angry customers, employees or investors, can know of yours and your family’s whereabouts with a simple Google search. Registering your business with a real physical address that is not your home address, keeps your privacy and family protected.

 

Crook spying on home

Permanent Address

 

What happens if you decide to move the location of your business? You need to keep updating all your contact info, informing customers of a move, and completing change of address forms with the USPS. When you register for a virtual address, this address is yours for life, regardless of where you are physically located. Think of it; do you change your phone number whenever you move? Why would you therefore need to change your mailing address when you do so? 

 

Streamlined Mail Management

 

When you sign up for a virtual business address, all employees are able to digitally manage incoming mail. There is no requirement of someone being on site, and virtually, from the comfort of their own office or home, they can make a few clicks and handle mail online.

 

The Quick Glance Pros and Cons

 

For all of you busy bunnies who don’t have time right now for our fully-fledged conversation, here is a speedy summary of everything we talked about above.

 

Ready? Let’s go!

 

business people shake hands

 

The Quick Glance Pros

 

  • Convenience — you don’t need to be around to pick up your important document or package, an expert mail handler will do it for you.
  • Mail security — all your mail will be held in a secure facility complete with 24-hour video surveillance and more. You won’t find anywhere safer than this!
  • Look sharp — having your home address as your business address does not look very professional. With a virtual mailbox, this problem is solved.
  • Home privacy — using your home address for business can get messy. Angry customers, unhappy investors, and raging employees will be able to find you and your loved ones incredibly
  • Permanent — you will never have to go through the hassle of changing your mailing address every time you switch offices!
  • Streamlined mail management — all your employees can access your office’s mail from a smartphone app or their computer. No one needs to be onsite.

 

Okay, so what are the cons here then? Everything has a downside, right?

 

Well, yes, but the advantages of signing up for a virtual mail forwarding service drastically outweigh the potential disadvantages. Regardless, we will chat briefly about the things that aren’t so good about a virtual mailbox system. (Hint: when we said “things” we meant “thing” as there is only one potential downside)!

 

The Quick Glance Con

  • Extra cost — this especially applies to start-ups. We have found that many new companies do not want to incur the extra cost that business address forwarding proposes. However, it is important to remember that a virtual mailbox will bring you a huge return on your investment (looking at the advantages above will tell you that!).

 

The Bottom Line

 

To summarize; using a virtual mailing solution for your small business can be a big time and money saver. The convenience, security and savings it provides you with makes all the sense in the world to test out — yes, even if you are a start-up company.

 

If you need to reach out with any questions about business mail forwarding or get a proposal, contact us here.

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Should I Rent A PO Box?

In this article, we will be covering the topic of PO Boxes: Is it really an important part of life in the 21st century or are there any better alternatives? 

 

Here’s everything you need to know.

 

What Is A PO Box?

 

A Post Office, or PO box, is a mailbox located in one of the 31,000 Post offices across the United States. With over 21 million available, businesses and individuals are able to rent these boxes to receive their mail and packages. 

 

How Does a PO Box Work

 

The process for taking advantage of a PO Box is really simple and straightforward, and learning how PO boxes work isn’t going to take you very long at all.

 

To get things going, you’ll have to find a post office location that you want to set up your PO Box in to begin with.

 

Most people are going to find a post office that is located near their home or business (just for the sake of convenience), though you could certainly choose a PO Box pretty much anywhere and everywhere you’d like in the United States.

 

After choosing a postal office location, then you’ll need to go through the actual process of figuring out how PO boxes work and how to sign up for one.

 

You’ll need to choose the size of the PO Box that you are most interested in, figure out how much that PO Box is going to cost, and then you’re going to have to provide identifying information and documents that allow you to officially sign up mail at that specific location.

 

Another piece of the puzzle to figuring out how PO boxes work is determining the length of the rental agreement you are going to enter into with the post office.

 

Some people are only going to need a temporary place to get mail while they are traveling for work, away at school, etc. Short-term rental agreements – usually three months in total – are available, though you can also sign up for six month engagements, twelve month engagements, and even longer terms if you are going to be sticking around in that area (or are going to want the box for that amount of time, to).

 

After signing up, you’ll then need to go to the postal office location physically, use the key that has been provided to you to open up your box, and then take physical ownership of your mail. If you have too much mail for the box size – or if you have packages that have been sent to that PO Box address – you’ll usually find a secondary key inside the box to access a dedicated storage locker to receive the overflow or the bigger packages.

 

Be sure to return the key when you are done (usually at the front desk or in a dedicated dropbox) and you are good to go. Now you know exactly how PO boxes work!

 

How Much Are PO Boxes?

 

The price will vary based on the duration of the rent agreement as well as the mailbox size. A P.O box for 6 months will cost as little as $19 and up to $75 in certain locations. For more information on pricing, please visit the official USPS website.

 

Why Do You Need To Get a PO Box?

 

There are a couple of reasons behind why people get a PO Box to begin with, but the first one is that rural mail delivery isn’t always the most consistent thing in the world – especially in areas where homes and properties are spread out across a pretty wide geographical area.

 

There are a lot of towns and municipalities in the United States where home mail delivery just isn’t all that possible, at least not with any real efficiency. The USPS recommends that those kinds of homeowners take advantage of PO Box services to enjoy more consistent mail delivery, and almost always offer significantly discounted rates (if not totally free rates) depending on certain situations.

 

Other folks trying to figure out why get a PO Box are going to want to separate their physical address – the residential or business address – apart from their mailing address.

 

Business owners (especially those that do not a silly need to conduct business out of a physical location) are particularly most interested in leveraging the benefits of a PO Box when it comes to privacy and a little more anonymity.

 

There aren’t too terribly many business owners out there that want to give away their home address to customers and clients that always have become unhappy or disgruntled, for obvious reasons. This is especially true when you are running an online business and have to know face-to-face interaction with your clients.

 

Nobody wants a stranger to arrive on their doorstep, unhappy and potentially causing an unsafe situation, just because your residential address is doing double duty as your businesses mailing address.

 

Obviously, there are other benefits of a PO Box that you want to consider – having a secure location to receive mail at and one of them. There’s a reason why the USPS has millions of people taking advantage of PO Box services each and every year.

 

PO Box Sizes

 

Across all Post Office locations in the US, there are 5 standard PO Box sizes that you can pick from. Each box will come with a different pricing plan.

 

  1. X-Small (3″ x 5 1/2″ x 14 3/4″)
  2. Small (5″ x 5 1/2″ x 14 3/4″)
  3. Medium (11″ x 5 1/2” x 14 3/4″)
  4. Large (11″ x 11″ x 14 3/4″)
  5. X-Large (22 1/2″ x 12″ x 14 3/4″)

 

Wondering how they can benefit you?

 

Here are the Pros and Cons to getting a P.O. Box VS the alternative: a Virtual Mailbox

 

 

PROS

 

1. Permanent Address

 

Moving itself is already a hassle; you’re packing up your entire life. But now you have to change the mailing address for your bills and bank statements, not to mention the IRS and other government programs. And what happens if you’re already gone and your bank statement arrived at your old address? Then there’s a possibility of having your identity stolen and used to commit fraud and run up credit cards. With a PO Box there’s no need to update your mailing address every time you move, because it’s permanent.

 

2. Privacy

 

Your home is for your private life; the fewer strangers knowing where you live, the better. Having a PO Box allows you to give out a mailing address that doesn’t subject you to danger. For example, if you’re a business owner or providing services for someone and they’re far from satisfied, you don’t want that disgruntled customer knowing where you live.

 

Physical mailboxes located at a pack & ship store

 

3. Professionalism

 

A PO Box is very useful for small business, but it’s not just for protection against angry customers. If you can’t afford an office space, P.O. Box helps you appear more professional in comparison to your home address. It also makes sorting mail easier when the mail for home and business aren’t lumped together

 

4. Delivery Time

 

Since PO boxes are located in the post office, it’s delivered much faster than it would be to a residential mailbox. A PO Box removes the wait time that a postman delivering mail to you. Your mail is ready for pickup as early as 11 am.

 

Worker checking physical mail in a mailbox

 

5. Security

 

A PO Box is a lot more secure than a mailbox on the street or in front of an apartment building. It’s under surveillance and locked inside a building. This leaves you less vulnerable to mail thieves who may use your mail to steal your identity. It’s also not exposed to the elements. When Grandma sends you candy, it’s not as fun to eat it when it’s melted from the summer heat or water logged from the rain. Mail delivered to a P.O. Box is only exposed to the light breeze wafting from the air conditioner.

 

CONS

 

A PO Box isn’t all rainbows and air conditioning though. To make an educated decision you need to understand the disadvantages that PO Boxes have as well.

 

Icon that shows a thumbs down

 

1. You Have to Pick it Up

 

Having a PO Box means that rather than a short walk to your mailbox, you have to drive all the way to the post office. For some that’s 10 minute drive, for others it’s longer, and it’s especially not fun after a long day of work. However, if you live in a rural area that mail is hard to deliver to, this won’t have a big effect.

 

2. No 24/7 Access

 

Many Post offices don’t offer the 24/7 that a residential mailbox does. The times available may not always be the time available for you, especially during the holidays

 

3. Not Professional

 

If you’re a small business owner, a PO Box can make you appear less professional. I know what you’re thinking. “You said the exact opposite earlier!” While a PO Box appears more professional than a home address, it’s still indicative that you don’t have an office space. If you want peak professionalism you’ll have to fork over more money for street address.

 

4. It Overflows

 

PO Boxes come in different sizes that correlate with their price. You may immediately want to go for the smallest size to save money, but if you do, you’ll need to make that drive to the post office more frequently. If you’re box constantly overflows you’ll be charged with caller service fees that can amount to 500$ over 6 months.

 

Paper mail & folders stored at a USPS warehouse facility

 

5. No Mail From Other Carriers

 

It’s federal law that only a postal employee or box user can put anything into their box. As a result, major shipping companies, FedEX and UPS only deliver mail to actual street address. With a PO Box you can end up only being able to receive USPS mail.

 

6. No Additional Services

 

The USPS has tried to improve recently. You can now have informed delivery for residential PO Boxes, but it’s still lacking in comparison to the other option you have: a virtual mailbox.

 

PO Box Alternatives

 

Though there are a multitude of benefits of a PO Box (many of which we have highlighted above) there are also a couple of drawbacks – including the ones that we made mention of earlier.

 

Thankfully though, you are not limited to only having to choose between a physical address that you used to double as your mailing address and a PO Box available directly from the United States Postal Service.

 

You can also choose to take advantage of a whole host of PO Box alternatives, many of which combine the best things about a traditional PO Box (and operate similarly to a PO Box) with the best of the digital communication tools and technologies so many of us are used to using on a day-to-day basis.

 

The trick is in identifying the best virtual mailbox services to match your specific needs and your specific budget.

 

There are a lot of top-quality options out there for you to pick and choose from, but there are a handful of options that stand head and shoulders apart from the rest of the pack – like US Global Mail, for example.

 

You’ll want to choose PO Box alternatives that have great reputations in the industry, PO Box alternatives that offer a suite of services and solutions you’ll actually be able to take great advantage of, and PO Box alternatives that fit your budget perfectly.

 

A little bit of research and due diligence will help you uncover the ideal options for you if you’re looking to move away from a PO Box without having to use a physical mailing address only. Let’s dig a little deeper into the alternative approaches below.

 

The Alternative: Virtual Mailbox

 

A virtual mailbox is almost like a PO Box, only better. You get a permanent address, privacy, security, and professionalism. What sets it apart is that it has none of the cons of a PO Box. Once you receive mail at this address, its exterior is uploaded online and you can decide whether to have it opened and scanned, shredded, or forwarded to a different address.

 

Illustration of what a virtual mailbox looks like

 

No more driving the post office! See how they compare at a glance:

 

PO Box vs Virtual Mailbox

 

How to rent a virtual mailbox

 

Interested in getting more value for your money? Learn more here or follow these 3 easy steps to start renting your own:

 

How to rent a virtual mailbox, US Global Mail

 

How to rent a PO Box

 

Still interested in signing up for a PO Box? That’s okay, sometimes change can be scary. We’re still here to help though so here’s a guide on how to rent a PO Box in 5 easy steps:

 

How to rent a PO Box

 

Hope this helps. Give us a buzz if we can help answer any questions for you.