17. Virtual Mail - Is it a Fit for your Coworking Space?
Virtual Mail - Is it a fit for your coworking space?
The business center industry has been leveraging virtual mail for years, and it’s really lucrative for them. Their view is that your revenue has finite potential if you are only selling memberships for space but a virtual membership revenue stream has infinite upside. It’s also a nice way to introduce people to your services and engage them in the community. I’d like to share a little bit about how it works and my personal experience with it at Enerspace Coworking, which is the coworking space brand that I also run.
What is virtual mail? Virtual mail is a service you can provide to space members that use any level of service. It can be sold as an add-on service to full time members, or a stand-alone service to someone who simply needs a business address. With this service members use your address as their address with a different company name and a different suite number. (Note: If you do not use a separate suite number for each business Google will come after you for having multiple businesses at the same address.)
Providing a virtual mail service means you take someone’s mail and process it for them, but you may not see that person. There are a number of ways you can get virtual mail clients. They may be folks that show up at your front door and want an actual membership and might be interested in your service. They might find you online and send you an email and ask about it if they see it listed an an amenity. Or they can go through a third party that sends business your way such as Spheremail, Cloud Virtual Office and DaVinci Virtual Offices. These companies are not coworking spaces, they create demand for virtual mail at your location through Google ad campaigns and other online advertising.
How do you process that mail? It depends on the service you are using. With Spheremail, we can generate the demand for virtual mail and use their system to process the mail through their online portal, which allows you, the coworking space staff, to notify a member that they have received mail. That member can use the portal to communicate what they want done with that piece of mail. It can be hold it for pick up, shredded, or forwarded for an extra fee.
How much do you charge for virtual mail? There are different packages, and pricing depends on the location. The Palo Alto market will demand about $95 per month, and the Chicago market is more like $49 per month. You can look at our packages through Spheremail online to see what’s included.
How can you leverage virtual mail to increase memberships? We include a discount on day passes and conference room time because we want to shape how the members interact with us. If they’re in the market for space or community, we want to give them some motivation to visit the space. We’ve seen folks who start as virtual members become full members when they’re ready because we create a relationship with them by engaging them in the community through newsletters and event invitations. We enjoy this service because of that, and it’s an extra source of revenue. Coworking spaces, especially new ones, are looking for ways to get their revenue up and running, and virtual mail is a way to do that.
If you are in a major market, there can be a lot of competition, so Google ads can be expensive. It can make sense to build memberships by working with brokers such as CloudVo or Davinci that can send business your way.
What are some of the disadvantages of virtual mail? It takes time for your community managers to process the mail, and if you get a high volume of it, you may decide it’s not something you want them to spend time doing. Or you may need to hire someone to handle the mail if it’s profitable rather than have your community manager spend time on it.
If the people coming into the space don’t match the type of member you’re looking for, maybe this is not something you would choose to do because you want folks with a certain background, especially if you’re a niche company instead of one that caters to a wide range of clients.
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