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BSME
04-12-2006, 12:08 AM
I probably could have posted this in the regular business forums but I like to hear what people like Dana have to say.

How do you guys have your phones set up?

Right now I have the office line in my name at my house. Separate from the main house phone number. I REFUSE to give out my cell phone because I cannot handle people calling while I'm having a life.

I have a couple problems...
1) If I call someone their caller ID pops up with my name and not the business name (not a huge deal but would be nice if the company name came up)
2) I don't have someone that regulary answers the phone during business hours so if I'm out doing a full day of service and someone calls to tell me they may be late or something I may not get the message until it's too late.

Here's what I want to do... let me know what you think.

for about 10 bucks a month I can change my number to a business line so my name would pop up on caller ID. I also would get unlimited local and I can have call forwarding so that if nobody answers in the office it will go to my cell phone and I can answer if I'm in the truck. I'm also thinking of getting another cell phone just for sprinklers with the number blocked on it so that I can call a customer to tell them I'll be late or whatever and they won't have my cell number. but if they want to reach me they can still call the office and it'll forward to the cell.

did any of that make sense? I wish I could organize my thoughts like Jerry

Beartooth
04-12-2006, 01:21 AM
The phone thing is difficult. I have taken a different approach, however, I give my cell # to all my customers. I like being accessible to them and I have actually seen an increase in revenue due to not missing calls. When my phone is ringing I am making money! In Montana, winter is always just around the corner and I'll be praying for my phone to ring.

bicmudpuppy
04-12-2006, 01:26 AM
I expect that you will get as many opinions/attitudes on this one as some of our other "hot" topics. Here is my take on the phone issue -

I tried the commercial line for the first 3 years (this is year 5). In those almost 4 years that I had the "free" one liner in the yellow pages, I had two calls for irrigation work and one of those was a "tire kicker" looking for an almost free system. I averaged over one call a month from someone looking for a job though. My justification for the commercial line was two-fold. First, I didn't like the idea of my company having a "cell number" as its primary number, and second, since I was leaving a bad situation, I didn't want to be one of the few Ma Bell targeted for tariff violations for advertising a non-commercial number. (They beat me out of over 3K in wages, they wouldn't have hesitated to make my life miserable in any other way possible) My current solution was to use number portability to transfer my business line to a cell phone. Portable answering machine that I can answer if I really want to. I am in temperate winterization country here. The season is 9-10 months long. In a typical spring, I can burn 1000minutes in March and April, and I can come close to matching that in November or December. The rest of the season, I run about 200 minutes possibly 300 minutes per month. I use a pre-paid trac-fone. I buy a double minute card with 300 (new ones are 400 I think) initial minutes for $140. Then, each additional 400 minute card for $75 is worth 800 minutes. As long as I buy the one year card when it is due, none of the purchased minutes ever expire. I get buy on 4 of the $75 cards plus the $140 card in a year so far. This means my annual cell phone expense is under $500 and I can talk for over 1000 minutes a month during my spring turn on period. I don't think I could survive on any current plan for less than $65/month and that makes my trac-fone a great buy. I ported my old number so I have a "land line" number for advertising purposes and so far, advertising a cell number doesn't cross any barriers on use. I hope that all made sense and helps some. I am sure there are other and better ways to handle it, but this works for my little situation.

lawnsplus
04-12-2006, 02:31 AM
You dont need a second phone with the number blocked.

Just dial *67 before the phone number this will block caller ID transmission.

justgeorge
04-12-2006, 08:17 AM
I use my cell phone as my ONLY business phone. The biggest downside is that my local phone carrier won't put me in directory assistance since it is a cell phone - so much for number portability being of any use. I saw where some phone carriers use something called "foreign directory listing" or something like that where a couple of bucks a month can get you listed, but it's optional if the phone company allows it or not. I'm not paying them $85 a month for a business line that would never get answered. I have a cell phone plan that is two phones, 2000 ANYTIME minutes a month, for $72 including all the taxes. If it rings after hours and I don't recognize the number then I just don't answer it and let voice mail get it.

George

DanaMac
04-12-2006, 08:53 AM
I like to hear what people like Dana have to say.

I'm glad somebody does!:)

I have 3 numbers at the house

home line
business line
fax line


Fax line is on the same bill as my home line. It was a special at the time, and by combining it the cost is about $20 more a month. If it is on the same bill as the business line it was about twice the cost. So the company just pays me back for the fax line at end of year.

Business line is the number I give to customers. I DO NOT give out cell number. By the end of the day Monday, I had 60 calls come to the office. How the **** can I answer those and actually get work done. After a certain time in the evening, I unplug the business phone. Since I rarely answer when it rings anyway, I use to have something called "voice mail anywhere", or something like that. It is a seperate number that went straight to voice mail. About $15-$18 at the time, about 9-10 yearsa ago. Then I would call from the home number later in the day after working. I don't think I knew about blocking the caller ID number at the time.

PurpHaze
04-12-2006, 09:27 AM
I have 3 numbers at the house

home line
business line
fax line


Fax line is on the same bill as my home line. It was a special at the time, and by combining it the cost is about $20 more a month. If it is on the same bill as the business line it was about twice the cost. So the company just pays me back for the fax line at end of year.

Perhaps if your FAX ever goes down and you need a new one you should try a different technology. There are FAX machines out there and printer/copier/FAX equipment that would not cost you an extra dedicated line. The answering of all calls goes through the FAX first and if a FAX tone is detected then it is handled entirely by that machine. If no FAX tone is detected it allows the phone call to proceed onto your regular phone line where the call can be answered, forwarded or handled by an answering machine. It is quick and undetectable to calling parties.

DanaMac
04-12-2006, 09:43 AM
Hey Purp, I think there are also devices that I can install inline that will detect a fax tone and send to the appropriate fax machine or phone. I have thought about looking into it before and forgot. Thanks for the reminder.

BSME
04-12-2006, 10:23 AM
You dont need a second phone with the number blocked.

Just dial *67 before the phone number this will block caller ID transmission.

I do that now... but sometimes I forget and sometimes I need a customer to call my cell phone during the day. If I had a seperate cell phone I could give them that.


also... I'm not really planning on answering all calls that would forward to my cell phone while I'm working. If I had a customer list that was big enough for my liking I would be ok with just checking messages in the morning, at lunch, and after work. But I'm trying to grow as quick as I can and these guys that find you in the yellow pages will go on to the next company if you don't answer.


The extra cell phone may be a little much for now but I think I mentioned before, to upgrade to the business plan it's about $10 more a month. That puts my business name on their caller ID, I get unlimited local, call forwarding, and call waiting.


I hate the phones... I just decided we're giong to grow until I can afford someone to answer my phone

bicmudpuppy
04-13-2006, 12:46 AM
Hey Purp, I think there are also devices that I can install inline that will detect a fax tone and send to the appropriate fax machine or phone. I have thought about looking into it before and forgot. Thanks for the reminder.
Yeah, but a lot of those (like my all in one) will activate when they detect a digital signal too. Really SUX when I call the wife and the she and the fax machine decide to answer at the same time. Or better yet, mid conversation, the fax senses the digital line and decides to come on..grrrrrrr