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Keeping Packages Safe When No One's Home

There are a number of smart solutions available to homebased business owners who want to be sure their packages are there when they get home.

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Q: I'm running a part-time business while also continuing my full-time job. My problem is, there's no one at home to receive UPS or FedEx packages related to my business. Having a neighbor accept them for me isn't an option. What can I do?

A: If your packages would be safe from theft and weather, you can sign what FedEx calls a "release delivery authorization" and what UPS calls a "driver release," and the drivers can leave your packages without your having to sign for them. But this solution isn't bullet-proof because there are times when the drivers won't leave the packages--for example, if your package is damaged or if it's a C.O.D. delivery.

Alternatively you can rent a box at a commercial mail service, such as a UPS store or a local independent mail service. You could also rent a similar service from an executive suite facility, though at a greater cost. Unlike the U.S. Postal Service, all these mail services will accept packages from commercial services like FedEx, UPS and DHL--though you should be sure to check what the store's exact policy is--and they provide a street address instead of a box number. While renting a box adds a monthly cost to your overhead plus takes up your time to regularly check your box, your packages should be secure and your address doesn't need to change if you change residences.

A Smart Box is yet another option for you that combines time and money saved with security and convenience. A Smart Box is a secured box located outside your home. The box itself can be attached to your house, or can be located adjacent or nearby. To open the box, a delivery person inputs an authorization code you've input into the Smart Box's memory via a keypad and inserts in your packages. The Smart Box can also be used to store items you wish to be picked up. A Smart Box unit costs around $80, which is less than a commercial mailing service will cost you in a matter of months.

Regardless of which approach you take, here's proof you can work around almost all the problems associated with maintaining a viable homebased business while still working a full-time job.

Paul and Sarah Edwards are the authors of several homebased business books, including Working From Home. Their latest book is Why Aren't You Your Own Boss?

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