Telephone Answering Business!

The telephone answering business is a continuation to the main article about this service at Get more business ideas to start phone answering business easily and enjoy it. You will find this business report useful, indeed although few parts of it is out of date. Check the search engine at the right column to be updated.

Another feature is the "position-splitting" key. This involves plugging in a second head set and simply turning the key to enable two operators to work the same board during an especially busy period.

When your customers want to call to check with you for any messages, you can have them call their own number if they are calling from a different number, or pre-designated trunk line.

Most answering service owners experiment both ways until they decide upon the system that works best for them. Whichever method is finally chosen should be decided upon with the efficiency of the operators in mind.

In addition to your switchboard, you should install a time clock and message racks. These are ideally located above or on top of your switchboard.

The operator then takes the call, jots down the message, punches the time clock and then quickly slips it into the customer's message box. When the customer calls in for his messages, the operator retrieves the messages from his message box, reads them to him, again punches the time clock with each message slip, and drops them into a "dead message" box.

You should keep these message slips for totalling at billing time, so it's a good idea to have each operator file them in your customer folders as they finish their shift on the board.

Retention of these message slips for at least 30 days is not required, but it is a good policy to practice. You may find a customer will want to check a message received or double-check his billing against your records.

Basically, your message rack can be either pigeon-hole compartments in a wooden box designed and built to fit your space, or lazy-Susan clips similar to what any restaurants use for fast food orders. At any rate, you shouldn't have any problems in finding what you need on the open market.

It isn't necessary that you have specially designed or printed message slips, but you should have a plentiful supply available and within easy access to your operators.

Simple 4 x 5 inch pads should be all you'll need, and if you'll check with your local quick print shops, you'll find most of them willing to make up a thousand or so pads of 50 to 100 pages each, from scrap paper, for almost next to nothing.

Another essential to plan on - buy in wholesale lots and keep handy for your operators - is pens. It may be exasperating until the business is on a sound profitability basis, but in a busy month, one operator can easily go through 100 or more pens.

Don't fight the how's and why's, just charge it up as a business expense and order more pens.

You'll need some form of maintaining basic customer information such as address, name and number to contact during an emergency and any special answering instructions.

For this, simply go with 3 x 5 or 4 x 5 index cards and place them in each customer's message slot for easy operator reference. Many services have these cards laminated in plastic to prevent them from getting dirty or deteriorating with constant use.

Efficiency is the name of the road leading to profits in any small business, so when you begin with one switchboard, make sure you have that position-splitting key, and that you balance the board - half of them on one side and half on the other side.

This will enable you to put two operators on that one board in times of emergency. Your customer lines must be distributed according to usage across the board for maximum efficiency of your operation.

Each time a customer "signs" for your telephone answering service, you should have him sign a simple contract that specifies the name and address of the firm to be billed for the service, and the typed name as well as the signature of the person authorizing the service.

There should also be space on this contract for alternate phone numbers, names and addresses as well as phone numbers of persons to contact in case of an emergency, and any special answering instructions the client may want you to use.

Don't forget to include a clause requiring a 30-day notification of cancellation by either party to the contract. It's also a good idea to state that a full month's payment must be made for any partial month's usage, in order to cover any disconnect charges.

You'll probably want to stipulate that the last month's base charges are to be paid at the time of service approval, in order to enhance your working capital situation.

Check with the phone company - find out if they or you are to bill the customer for hook-up charges, and the line into your switchboard. By all means get everything written out and fully explained in the contract.

You will be money ahead by paying a good contract attorney to put all that you want into a legal contract that not only protects you, but also is binding upon your customers.

One other item of paperwork you should have is an Errors & Omissions Insurance Policy.

This protects you and your operators against any liability from mistakes or missed messages - very good to have, and available at very low cost through the Associated Telephone Answering Exchange, Inc. by special arrangement with Lloyd's of London.

Your other insurance needs are those basic to any business.  Always shop around for the best rates.

In the beginning, you and your spouse or partner can operate a telephone answering service. However, we strongly suggest that you add to your operator staff just as quickly as you customer list warrants.

The longer you try to operate your telephone answering business with just two people, the longer it's, going to take you to achieve real profitability.

Remember you want a 24 hour, seven-days-a-week, full service operation. This will require at least three full-time operators for your board, plus at least one relief operator - and don't forget about commission sales people.

Ideally, when you start your telephone answering business, you should try to hire people with telephone switchboard experience, but in order to get these people, you may have to offer short-shifts, moonlighting jobs to regular telephone company operators.

It will take some time to train inexperienced people, so bear this in mind when you begin looking for people to hire.

It's always a good policy to hire your new, inexperienced people for the evening shift. Break them in by having them "sit in" with an experienced operator during the day-time hours, and have someone close at hand during their first week on the evening shift before turning them loose to handle the board by themselves.

Now look at this fact while you are engaging in your telephoen answering business. The most important qualifications to look for in an operator are voice and attitude.

The voice must be pleasant and sound alert, interested and ready to help the caller. Warn your operators never to allow their "personal feelings" to show through when they are answering the phone.

They represent your business and your customers. As such, they must project a professional manner at all times.

While carrying on with your telephone answering business, teach your operators to answer the phones with a "happy smile" in their voices. Train them to take their time with the callers, and get the message right by reading the message back to the caller, and also be sure they ask the caller for the correct spelling of his or her name.

Unless specifically instructed otherwise by a customer, insist that your operators never allow an incoming call to ring more than twice before answering it. Hardly any thing frustrates anyone calling a business number more than a telephone that seemingly rings forever before someone answers it.

You can start your inexperienced people at $4 an hour, and your experienced operators at $6 an hour. Try to explain to them that the success of your business depends on them, and as your business prospers, so will their monetary rewards. Get them involved and interested in helping you succeed.

It's going to take aggressive selling on your part to reach success with a venture of this kind.

You must spend at least 50 percent of your time making sales calls - if you can't or don't wish to do any personal selling, then you will have to hire at least two full time sales people to take your place.

In addition to your own sales efforts or people who fill your shoes in this area, you should hire at least one other full time salesperson. You should plan to have someone making telephone solicitations for at least 3 hours out of each working day.

Selling your TELEPHONE ANSWERING service - building an ever larger customer list - is the name of the game for real success. You've got the start up information, and from here on, the rest depends on your own ambition.

Associated Telephone Answering Exchanges, Inc.

Bankers Square

100 Pitt Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 683-3770

Telephone Answering Business - TYPICAL EQUIPMENT COSTS:

Two Operators Chairs = $90

Desk & Chairs = 100

Two side chairs = 50

Bookcase = 50

Filing/Supply Cabinet = 50

Calculator = 50

Used Typewriter = 150

Base for Switchboard = 60

Message Rack = 75

Time Clock = 250

Office Furnishings/Decorations = 150

5 thousand message pads = 25

24-dozen pens = 12

Switchboard lease (one board) = 4,000

Cable Installation (one board) = 1,500

Rent on office = 600

Utility deposits = 50

Business Licenses = 50

Business Insurance = 350

Legal fees = 100

Supplies = 200

TOTAL = 7,962

This budget for the equipments of the telephone answering business could be incorrect according to the currency market today, so check at your local market for best cheap equipments.

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