This blog is part of our ongoing series: If you’re starting a new business – here’s how NOT to fail. After reading about why your company needs a business landline telephone number (and why you should never be the one who answers it), be sure to check out the rest of our series, in which Rapid Formations CEO Graeme Donnelly spells out his top tips on how you can give your company the best possible start.
When it comes to running a successful business, communication is absolutely critical. As the owner of a company, you’ve got to maintain a flawless line of communication with your employees, your customers, suppliers, stakeholders and just about everybody else under the sun. You need to make your business as open and accessible as possible – and even in 2019, one of the best ways to achieve this, is to make sure anyone and everyone can reach your business by telephone. If you’re running a fairly small business, that can sometimes be a problem.
It can be incredibly draining on your time and energy dealing with a high volume of routine calls. Answering the exact same questions over and over again is enough to drive any business owner crazy, and it keeps you from getting things done. That’s why some business owners (particularly of micro companies) tend to dodge calls or try to operate online-only. Likewise, a huge number of sole traders and one-man limited companies often run their businesses using a mobile phone only.
A word of advice: do not run your business from a mobile phone. Not only does the mobile number look unprofessional on your website or marketing material, but trying to operate your company from a single mobile phone will drive you absolutely bonkers!
Why your company needs a business landline telephone number
Although we’re living in a brave new world of ecommerce and online communication, telephone numbers still play a crucial role in the forward-facing, day-to-day activities of UK companies. If you want your clients, potential customers and members of the public to contact you, you need to give them every opportunity to reach you – which typically means displaying a business phone number on your website, official company stationery, business vehicles, premises and marketing collateral.
By displaying a mobile telephone number, you are inadvertently sending a loud and clear message: ‘stay away’. Why would this put customers off? To a consumer, a business that operates from a mobile number is unestablished. It may be run from a garage, spare bedroom, or change premises from one week to the next because it is illegitimate or unsustainable.
Let’s get one thing straight right now: this is not always the case. Many companies can be run incredibly successfully by one person out of the spare room in their flat – but like it or not, image is everything. Customers are more likely to place their trust in larger, well-established brands. That means, if you want to succeed in the long term and generate new business, you’ve got to emulate the look and feel of a large and well-established company – and the long and short of it is, large companies are easy to reach using a business-specific landline number.
But not only is it important for your new company’s reputation to obtain a business landline number – it’s also important for your privacy.
If you own a small business and do some or most of the work yourself, you may often find yourself in a situation in which you haven’t got any choice but to give your personal mobile number out to customers. That’s fine in certain scenarios, but if too many people have your direct line, you’ll see the inevitable erosion of that all-important barrier dividing your business and personal life.
When you start a company and give it your all, you need to be prepared to make business your life, sure. But for your own sanity, you’ve got to preserve some form of private life. That’s why you need to keep your personal mobile as far away from your business dealings as possible.
So, it’s plain to see every company needs a business landline. But one aspect of business phones you may not have considered, is that your telephone number should be directly tied to a geographical location connected to your company and its trading activity.
Why? Because your customers are smart enough to put two and two together. When companies use a Luton landline number, while claiming on their website that they’re based in London, that raises red flags. It makes your business look irreputable, and even a bit seedy. Even using an 0800 number when your business fails to display a geographical business landline number beside it, can cast your company in a bad light.
So, do yourself and your company a favour and do not be cheap. Keep your smartphone number reserved for your personal life, and invest in a business-only landline number that is geographically linked to where your company is based.
Why you should also consider a telephone answering service
It might sound like we’re flogging a dead horse here, but it is impossible to overemphasise the importance of maintaining an ‘established business’ image for your new company. And like it or not, answering your company’s main telephone number yourself, does nothing to promote this notion.
Sure, it’s great to look attentive and heavily involved in the day-to-day running of your business. Yet by answering your own business landline, you are also inadvertently telling would-be clients that you are running a one-man company. Again, there’s nothing wrong with running a company by yourself – people do it all the time. But until you have built trust with a customer, it is probably best you present a picture of being a bigger and more established business – as people trust big and successful brands and tend to think ‘new starts’ are here today, gone tomorrow.
That’s the top reason micro businesses should buy a telephone answering service that can offer you assistance in handling calls, and help your company appear to be larger and more established than it actually is.
It’s also worth emphasising just how much time and money a telephone answering service can save you. If your company handles a high volume of calls – why waste your own time handling painfully simple calls, or waste money hiring a costly full-time receptionist to handle them?
In a nutshell, a telephone answering service saves time and money, and also promotes a fabulous corporate image. You’ll also benefit from call screening, and won’t need to be bothered by cold callers or unsolicited calls – handing you the priceless gift of time, to do what it is you’d actually like to be doing.
At Rapid Formations, we provide companies with a business landline telephone number and call answering service from just £19.99 plus VAT per month. Our reception team is expertly trained, and two professionals are assigned to each company to answer all calls in your company name, during normal working hours.
The bottom line
There’s no right or wrong way to run a company. But as someone who’s spent the better part of his career starting and running companies, take it from me: you need to get a landline number for your business. More important still, that number needs to be business-specific, and it needs to be geographically linked to your business.
The only thing that’s more important than having a business landline number for your business is to ensure you’re not the one answering that number every time. Again, this is all about reputation and showing customers that your company is a well-oiled and well-established machine.