How to Start A Telephone Answering Service?

The telephone answering service is not a business that anyone can do. You need first to be patient and passionate if you want to start a telephone answering business. This is the first step before you know how to talk to people during this service or how to talk about it to people.

The following report provides you by more business ideas to start such a business carefully. But, first what about looking for demands, supplies and profitability! Use the search engines to find the demands and supplies.

One of them is at the right column. But, for the profitability, you should have a complete set of tools to get this and support it by a website.

Organize yourself properly, decide how much money it is going to take, for you to feel comfortably wealthy, and then reach for it with your own phone answering business. See the requirements at the end of the business reports on this page.

While investigating telephone answering services, our research has turned up hundreds of husband and wife entrepreneurs who, beginning with just a couple of thousand dollars in borrowed funds, and a lot of ambition, are grossing $20, 000 or more after just a couple of years in the business.

The exciting part is that the door is wide open for you to do the same! The demand for telephone answering services is growing! The advent of the electronic answering devices is not even beginning to slow this demand! 

A great many people are "turned off" by the frustration of expecting to talk with a "live person," and having to listen to a recording that advises the caller to leave a message at the sound of the tone. Exasperation of this kind can sometimes cost a businessperson thousands of dollars in lost profit. 

Realizing this, today's successful businessperson wants the personal touch of a friendly, professional, "secretary" answering their phones for them.

The professional telephone answering service operator can pass along the proper messages to the different callers, take messages, get clarifications and even set up meetings with special customers. 

In many instances, businessmen come to think of the operators at their telephone answering service as vital to their success, and often regard them with special favours or bonuses when the people at the answering service close a particularly lucrative deal because of courteous and efficient service.

To get started properly with your own telephone answering service, you will need an initial investment of about $10,000 for equipment and facilities, plus working capital. In the beginning, with a 2-person operation, you can have your operator selling by phone while you make in-person sales calls.

You might also want to add a couple of "hungry" commission sales people to help line up a good list of accounts as fast as possible. These efforts will take planning and coordination because you do not want two different sales people calling on the same prospect.

You can begin operating your telephone answering service out of a spare bedroom or your garage - you will need a leased switchboard from the telephone company - with plans to move your operation into more formal quarters later. 

However, it is quite expensive and time consuming to have a switchboard moved once it has been installed. Our suggestion would be to locate a "beginning" small office, and plan to be there at least 5 years from the start.

Many operations begin in a small 200 to 300 square foot economy office location, and as their growth warrants, open a second location with space for eventual expansion to include 3 or more switchboards. 

Our research has found that you will need an average of 85 regular customers per switchboard in order to realize a minimum profit after expenses.

Just about anyone with a business card will be a good prospect for your services. People working out of their homes are very good prospects, especially those holding down regular jobs while moonlighting with a part-time businesses of their own. 

Every salesman is a prospect, people who work on a 24 hour "on-call" basis, repair service business owners such as plumbers, electricians, locksmiths and auto mechanics.

There are other kinds of services that will be interested too, such as ambulance companies, towing services, volunteer fire departments, survey or organizations, and customer complaint departments of virtually every business in your area. 

By all means, don't forget the doctors, dentists and other professionals.

Many beginners start by providing service only for theses intermittent users. These people "put out the word" that if they can be reached at their regular number after 4 or 5 rings, the caller should dial the number of their answering service.

The telephone answering service, which in this case is just a housewife answering her home phone, takes the caller's message and either relays it to the customer or holds it until he checks in with her. It is very simple, very easy and very profitable.

Usually after such a "shoestring" operation has 15 or 20 such customers, it's necessary to install a phone with multiple incoming lines.

The cost and questions of the phone company can be allayed by purchasing your own telephone and explaining that you have several teenagers in the family. 

However, once you have 35 to 50 customers, it is time to expand into a commercial operation complete with switch board and hired operators.

The average rates to charge for your service should be about $35 per month for a specified number of calls - usually 70 to 75 - with a surcharge of 25 cents for each call beyond that number.

Other calls such as "wake-up calls" and reminder calls for appointments are usually billed on a "per call" basis at about 50 cents per call.

Most telephone answering services provide a variety of other services to keep their operators busy during the times when there are no incoming calls. 

These services range from typing, envelope addressing, computer input services, envelope stuffing, subscription soliciting and order fulfilment for mail order operators to reviewing books for publishing agents. 

In recent years, some have even included private post office, mail drop and forwarding services. The important thing is to keep your operators busy doing some kind of work that makes money for you.

When you decide to lease an office and get going, complete with switchboard - it's important that you try to get as close to the telephone company's switching or exchange station as possible. 

This is due to the mileage charges it will cost you for landlines. Remember too that each exchange station handles prefixes limited to customers within a certain radius of that station. 

What all of this means that if most of the businesses in your area have a 234 and 345 prefix, you will want to locate your answering services offices as close to the station serving theses prefixes as possible. Basic installation and set-up of one switchboard will cost close to $4,000.

Generally, a metro population of 35,000 people will support a telephone answering service hoping for $50,000 per year; 75,000 to 80,000 people will be needed for $100,000, and 150,000 people for $200,000 per year or more. For more help and further information, it would be wise to contact the Associated Telephone Answering Exchange, Inc. 

This organization, the industry's watchdog group, can update you on current practices and trends.

Meanwhile in setting up your own facilities, keep your cost in line with a realistic view of your first year's anticipated income. It shouldn't be too difficult to find low-cost rental space in an older building not far from the telephone company's exchange building - the telephone company is usually just as reluctant to pay high rent as you are. 

Locating in an older, less than "beautiful" building should not detract from your business because few of your customers will ever actually see your offices.

Most will sign up for your telephone answering services either through your in-person sales calls on them, or your telephone soliciting efforts, and send their payment in by mail.

You will need 125 square feet of space for each switchboard you plan to eventually install. Also plan for a small reception area, which can also double as a rest area for your operators and general office area for bookkeeping, billing and other administrative functions. Be sure there are convenient rest room facilities as well.

Before installation of your first switchboard, the phone company will require an inspection of your office, mainly to determine if the floor is strong enough to support the weight of the switchboard.  

Save yourself a lot of frustration by explaining this to the real estate agents or building managers before they start showing you what's available.

The best thing is to ask for certified copies of the original building blueprints or previous inspection reports, and have these in hand when you contact the phone company.

Once you are ready to go, consider the attitudes and feelings of the people who will be working long hours on the switchboards for you - invest in some cheery paint for the walls, non-glare lighting, carpeting for the floors and a few wall prints, pictures or other decorations. 

Look around for good used office furniture and buy or lease only what is absolutely essential. A pocket calculator and a used manual typewriter will work fine until you get the business running on a dependably profitable basis.

Follow Instructions and Understand the Manual!

This would be a good point to carry on your telephone answering service and avoid failure.

When you order your first switchboard, listen to the telephone company's instructions, read the operating manual and attend their training sessions.

The more you know about the equipment, the easier it's going to be to operate it, and the more you'll understand your profit potentials.

The traditional telephone company switchboard is known as the model 557 or TAS-100. This board handles 100 incoming secretarial lines and 15 office trunk lines. With this board, you have the capabilities of receiving incoming calls and making out going calls at the same time. 

You also have a business answering line which can be used as your number for customers wanting to use your number as their business number and/or for special events such as a special number of survey replies or telephone orders such as advertised on television for one-time-only sales promotions.

Even though you have the capabilities of 100 incoming lines, you shouldn't activate more than 5 or 10 more than your actual customer list, it's then a simple matter for the phone company to activate or "tie-in" according to your needs.

Your rental/lease payments to the phone company for equipment includes all maintenance, so when ever you have a problem or something isn't working properly to suit your needs, call and ask the phone company to send a repairman.

Some of the extras you can get with your board includes a "secrecy switch." This feature prevents an operator from listening in if a customer has already picked up his phone after the operator has answered.

The customer could then request the operator to hang up and conduct whatever conversation he wants with the caller. CONTINUE AT TELEPHONE ANSWERING.

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