Do you have someone who answers your phone...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by SummitFarmer, Jan 30, 2001.

  1. SummitFarmer

    SummitFarmer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 76

    Do you guys have an office manager or receptionist that is available to take phone calls or do you just use voice mail?? I know many so called "Consumer Advocates" that tell people to be cautious of service providers that only have voice mail, I was wondering what you folks thought.
     
  2. tpirobert

    tpirobert LawnSite Member
    Posts: 207

    Unless I am in my office, there is no one to answer the phone. I have thought about making my cell phone my official business line. This has voice mail and beeps me when there are messages. However, for this spring I am going to try call forwarding on the business line to my cell phone. I know other contractors in my area that have someone to answer the phone and it seems to make a positive difference for them. I know potential customers start calling in the spring and if I don't answer the phone...it's on to the next guy. I would'nt hire someone to answer the phone unless they were doing all the other office duties i.e. "office manager" and I was too busy to do it myself.
     
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    Ah! Great thread. We discussed this at length this time last year. To answer the phones live or not:

    It all depends on how much business you want and how fast you want to grow. It also depends on your form of advertising a little. But you need to understand that if someone isn't answering the phone live, some people will just hang up, not leave a message, and go elsewhere. If you are okay with that, cool. Just as long as you are aware that happens.

    I try to always have someone answering the phones live. For several reasons. For one, I have ambitious growth plants. I hate to miss an opportunity. I want to get every call. Next, one for of advertising we use is the yellow pages. Most people looking through the YP will just go on to the next ad if they don't get a live person. I know I sure do. And even with caller ID, half of the people out there have their numbers blocked so if I miss the call and they don't leave a message, that customer is gone.

    Fianlly, some people just don't like leaving messages. Heck, I don't leave messages 50% of the time when I am calling someone. So regardless of whether they heard of me from a flyer or whatever, I will still miss some potential business if I don't answer the phone. That bothers me. Like I said, some guys don't mind it.

    For the last two years I had an answering service. We paid like $30 a month for it. When I was gone, I would forward my phone to this service and they would answer with my company name. They'd tell the customer that I had stepped out and take down the pertinent information (name, address, scope of work). Then I'd get an alpha page with all this information immediately. I'd always try to stop what I was doing and call people back. It worked very well.

    Late last year we changed to me answering the phones almost all the time now. I got a vibrating cell phone. So now when I am out of the office I have the phone forwarded to my cell phone. I can feel it even if I am using a blower. The only time I don't answer it is when I am with a potential client giving a bid. And my voice mail says something like, "Hi, this is Jim Lewis with Lewis Landscape. You've reached my cell phone and I always have it with me. I'll always answer it unless I am speaking with a customer. So if you are hearing this message it means I am aware of your call and if you'll leave a message I'll return your call in just a few minutes."

    Seems to work very well. I catch 95% of the calls live. And most of the ones I miss leave me a message.

    This spring when my wife quits her job, we will likely have her answer phones some of the time.
     
  4. David Hickerson

    David Hickerson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 40

    Jim,

    I am right with you on this. My wife gets mad because I answer the phone even on nights out. I just tell her it is me getting a bonus or a raise.

    Houston
     
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    David, mine too! I will answer the phone at dinner out somewhere and she gets a little irritated too. I just tell her the reason I can afford to take her out so often is because of these phone calls. She's learned now to deal with it. But I still get that look. :)
     
  6. nlminc

    nlminc LawnSite Bronze Member
    from GA
    Posts: 1,671

    I have a pamplet from MAP (mobile communications Inc.) they seem to have a great setup for an answering service. I don't know what the rates are, but the Web address is:www.mapmobile.com. I have used other answering services before and had mixed results, some will put callers on hold if the staff can not handle the calls coming in. MAP promises not to do that.

    Chris
     
  7. Twotoros

    Twotoros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    The year I got caller ID on my line I realized that a great amount of callers do not leave a message . They do not want to talk to a machine (machinatosis). The next year I got an answering service to take calls and page me. That worked great but the company split in two and the live operator part was now 200 miles away and I didn't want to deal with them anymore. At the time with pager this cost about 40. a month but nobody hangs up on a live person. Now I just forward to my cell .
     
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    I have had some similar experiences as Chris. Sometimes the answering service we were using was placing people on hold for long periods of time. That sucks because most people won't wait. It didn't happen very often but I am sure we missed a few jobs because of it. That's the down side to answering services. But it's still a ton better than not answering the phone live at all.

    I still think the best idea is to have someone answer live for you - whether it's someone you hire or yourself on a cell phone. This is about the best option.
     
  9. Bryan McMullen

    Bryan McMullen LawnSite Member
    Posts: 46

    Chris,
    I talked to maps and it depends on how many calls you get each month.You can start out with 150 I believe.Anything over 150 you pay .55 per call and it is 96 amonth for the service.
     
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    Try PageNet. They are one of the biggest paging companies in the US. I really liked their service. I never had a problem with it. And I paid I under $50 a month for the pager and answering service (dispatch service, they called it). The pager also doubles as a regular numeric pager.

    http://www.pagenet.com
     

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