One of the very first decisions I made as a business owner 3 years ago was to stop answering my own business telephone. When I first started my business, I did what a lot of people do, and promoted my home telephone number as being my business landline. I also happily showed my mobile number on my website and marketing materials.

BIG mistake!

Giving out your home telephone number to potential clients is a potential recipe for disaster in a number of ways. First there is the danger of your partner or children picking up the phone mid mouthful of cornflakes, mumbling out a “’ello… oo is it?” which doesn’t present that professional first impression

Then there’s the fact that you are never going to ignore a ringing home phone in case it’s a family emergency – so when you find yourself picking up the phone to prospects at silly-o-clock you will rue the day you ever made that number public

And finally, unless you have Agoraphobia, there will be times when you want to leave the house… and what do you do then? Switch the voicemail on!

Answer.co.uk | PAYG Call Answering Service | Veronica Pullen

Most people HATE leaving a voicemail!

Most people hate talking to a voicemail so they’ll just put the phone down – and you wave goodbye to a potential sales opportunity. You won’t be aware of these lost calls either, but you will recognise that you’re not making as much money as you could be.

So 3 years ago, the very first decision I made was to use a call answering service, and I signed up for answer.co.uk – I’m still with them today… and here’s why

answer.co.uk is a Pay As You Go service that have a team of humans answering your phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can choose to permanently divert your number to them (as I do) or you can choose to only use their services when you aren’t in the office.

If you work alone, you should divert your phone permanently. I’ll explain why in a minute.

So, during the process of setting up your account with answer.co.uk, you provide instructions for how you want the operator to answer your call, what information you want them to relay to callers and your email address and mobile phone number so they can notify you when you have received a new call.

They provide you with a free 0208 number to use with their service, but I have a selection of geographical tracking numbers which I divert to answer.co.uk instead – so should I ever need to stop using their services in future, my main business telephone number isn’t tied to them. I get my tracking numbers from Invoco for £1 per month.

answer.co.uk asks for a minimum top up of £20 plus VAT, and they charge £1 plus VAT per call answered – the top up runs out when it’s been used up. If it turns out that you’ve received a sales call, you can ask them to refund the charge for that call. I think that’s a very cool benefit – you don’t want to have to pay to be sold to, do you?!

If your availability status changes, you can also update your call instructions via a tweet – ideal for when you’re stuck in traffic, or you decide not to go back to the office after that meeting.

So if you are currently answering your own business line, I recommend you consider using a call answering service. Every time the phone rings it demands your immediate attention; you are distracted from the task you are working on, and it takes time to get back in flow after the call has finished.

Answer.co.uk | PAYG Call Answering Service | Veronica Pullen

How much is your wasted time worth?

This is wasted time – and wasted time has a cost to your business! What is your hourly value? Assuming an hourly value of £100, answering a 5 minute call and taking another 5 minutes to get back to where you were has cost you £16.67.

If you receive 5 unscheduled calls per day, that’s £83.35 per day you’re losing to answering your own calls – assuming each call takes you away for only 10 minutes.

And by the time you’ve added up the sales calls and wrong numbers, how much of that £83.35 you’ve lost today has resulted in income generation conversations? Your time is way more valuable that to give it away to time vampires!

Whe you start to look at this in black and white, it does make you think, doesn’t it?

When your calls are answered by a call answering service, you can allocate a specific slot in your day to return all the calls at once. You’re not mid task, you’re 100% focused on the person you are speaking to (giving them a better first impression) and you’re only giving your valuable time to genuine enquiries.

How much more profitable could you be if you diverted your calls today?

Go here for more information about answer.co.uk and to receive £5 of free credit to be used against your answered calls.

Go here to check out Invoco and to purchase any tracking numbers you require (all of the telephone numbers you see on this site have been purchased from Invoco

If you would prefer to use a Virtual Receptionist service (where the person answering the phone doesn’t just take a message, but can actually book appointments on your behalf, go here to talk to our lovely clients at The Office Genie

And see for yourself how beneficial not answering your phone is for your productivity and profitability.