The Advantages of Renting a Mailbox

Aside from getting Caller ID — the best invention since chocolate — one of the best business decisions I ever made was to rent a mailbox.

When I started working from home, sales people showed up at my house and called my personal line. Renting a mailbox stopped the drop-by sales calls and made me seem more professional at a time when working from home wasn’t as widely accepted as it is now. In fact, no one knew I worked from home until my first home office book came out — it was sort of a dead giveaway.

While most of us get more e-mails than snail mail, there are still some things you can’t get electronically. Companies send me products every week to review, so I need to have a place to receive the packages. Sales reps need to have a place to receive marketing materials and samples from the company’s home office.

If you’ve been trying to decide whether you should rent a mailbox, consider the advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of renting a mailbox:

  • You’ll protect your privacy because prospects and clients won’t have your home address.
  • The mail center  (I use The UPS Store ) will accept packages for you, so you don’t have to worry about missing a delivery. Fed Ex and UPS won’t deliver to PO Boxes, which could be a problem if you receive several packages each week.
  • You can keep your business and personal mail (and life) separate
  • If you move (within the city), you won’t have to change your address or anything that has your business address on it.

The disadvantages of renting a mailbox:

  • You have to drive to pick up your mail. Rent a mailbox near your home and you’ll have a short commute.
  • It’s not free — you have to pay a monthly fee to rent a mailbox. I pay one year at a time to save a few dollars each month.
  • Sometimes you have to wait in line for your mail but you can use that time to check your e-mail on your handheld.

Renting a mailbox isn’t for everyone, but if you weigh the advantages against the disadvantages, you’ll make the decision much easier.

Where do you get your mail delivered?

Comments

  1. We have been using a post office box for 40 years now! Mostly because we felt for the local postman (and that’s what it was way back then). With our 400+ magazines and 300+ journals, not including the junk mail and reports and documents, our mailman was making a special delivery (literally) just to our offices back then. When we moved to Charlottesville, we used a sub-station- that was promoted to a main station when our mail became its domain. (By then, we had 100 employees and our journal subscriptions alone were over 1000….)
    Yes, we have to pick up the mail! And, now that my office (of five) only has five people assigned to it, that duty falls to me- except when I travel (which means the mail can fill up the back seat of someone else’s car).
    And, it hasn’t stopped salesfolks from dropping in on us. They still know how to use a phone book (although they are coming out less and less frequently….)
    Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. @Cerebrations.biz recently posted..It’s not the ides of April this yearMy Profile

    • That’s a lot of magazines. Good thing that you can get most publications online. You’re a considerate customer, not making the postal carrier deliver so many magazines! :)

  2. When I started our charity, I used a post office box to keep people from dropping by. It had a business sounding address, too. But since the charity was one for people to call in more than anything else, I didn’t get a special phone number at first. And then when I didn’t have as much time to promoting the charity (since I needed to make money), I lost the mailbox because they sent the renewal notice to the mailbox, where I almost never went. Since we don’t get lots of mail as a charity, it was no big thing. However, for most business people, I strongly support the idea of a separate address from the home one. Thanks for bringing this up, Lisa.

  3. Hi Lisa,

    A couple of comments. First, we have a PO Box at the local post office. We only check it a couple of times a month, but we don’t really get any mail at it. We just don’t get much business mail, which is a nice thing. We recently did our bi-annual renewal and the post office is advertising that they now offer an actual street address for your PO Box. UPS and FedEx don’t deliver to PO Boxes, but they do deliver to street addresses, so if you take advantage of converting your PO Box to a street address, you can get these types of delivers at the post office. I can’t recall if this feature costs more (I am sure it does), but it is interesting that the post office is increasing the services they offer. I suppose it is an effort to attract more business so that they stop the hemorrhaging of money they are experiencing.

    Another option to receive mail is to use a mail forwarding service. These primarily cater to people who live fulltime in an RV or boat and need somewhere to use as a permanent mailing address, but some of these services will also accept business mail. While there are many mail forwarding services, they tend to only be in certain states (South Dakota, Texas and Florida are popular because of the tax benefits these states offer). This means they would be of limited use for those in other states, but if you are fortunate enough to have a mail forwarding service in your area, you should consider using them. As a side benefit, they will send you the mail, saving you many trips to the post office of local UPS store.
    Marshall Davis recently posted..Virtual Phone SystemMy Profile

  4. Great post! I used to have a PO box but didn’t get a new one once I moved to Austin. It does legitimize your business and also helps keep your privacy. Plus, I got to know the ladies at the post office very well. It became an enjoyable part of my routine. Thanks for bringing back those memories. :)
    Anthony Caruso recently posted..Guilt-free Gluten-free Apple Deviled EggsMy Profile

  5. Thanks Lisa for this informative post, I believe it is truly beneficial to have a p.o box for privacy & business purposes. Having to send out business & marketing information, even samples with a p.o is nice rather than having to have your personal address written on every piece material as a return address, you do have a right to protect your privacy, esp those who consistently send & receive massive mail.

    Thanks for sharing! -Angela
    Angela Soliz recently posted..Changes to Facebook Fan Pages | Effective March 30, 2012My Profile

    • That’s true. If you use a mailbox from a postal center instead of a PO Box, you add a bit of legitimacy to your business as well. Clients and prospects don’t need your home address and when you move, you won’t have to change your business address unless you move out of town.
      Lisa recently posted..The Advantages of Renting a MailboxMy Profile

  6. Hi Lisa,

    You write a compelling argument for renting a mailbox! There are a lot of benefits to using one as a home business. It can help to separate the home from the business a little more and it can also help some get out of the house if they don’t leave too often! :)

    Stacy
    Stacy recently posted..How to Grow Your Online Presence with Guest BloggingMy Profile

  7. I’ve often thought of this too, but the UPS Store is 20 miles away — too far. However, if I did live closer I would definitely use this service.

  8. This is interesting. I thought in the USA Post Boxes were not the norm. When I got any quantity of mail (for 20 some odd years) I rented one and every time I dealt with an American company they got almost abusive that I only gave them my post box.
    Roberta Budvietas recently posted..In conversations, your memory can get you stuck.My Profile

  9. Lisa I have been using a PO Box for my business more than 15 years now. It is so true that it is the best way to separate my home/personal mail from my business mail. And actually, I like the break away from my home office to take a drive to the post office every now and then. Fortunately, I have a wonderful part time gal that will swing by to pick up my mail before she comes over to work with me.
    Lynn Brown recently posted..How to Deal with Facebooks Many ChangesMy Profile

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