Initially when starting as a freelancer, using your mobile phone to take work calls isn’t too much of an issue. There isn’t an abundance of calls coming in and you are excited whenever a new enquiry calls your personal phone. As your workload increases, the novelty soon wears off. There are a few major reasons why you should set up a phone line:
To Look Professional
Want to move away from being seen as a freelancer? Using your mobile number is seen as being a one man band rather than a small business outfit. With a professional number, it looks as if you have a fixed location rather than taking calls on the hop.
As well as this, who wants their clients to have their personal mobile number? There is nothing worse than to begin to receive calls out of hours or even worse, SMS and WhatApp messages related to trivial issues.
To Target A Fixed Location
For Cude Design, we initially began targeting the local area of Surrey in the UK. With a prefix for a local number, we were able to provide clarity to our customers in terms of our location. This is certainly helpful when planning to work remotely from other locations.
This carries extra weight if you have registered your business on Google Local or other business directories, rather than using your mobile number.
Avoid Awkward Questions When Being Nomadic
While abroad, when someone dials your number it is quite common that a different ringtone is used to the caller. This signifies you are out of the country and often leads to further questioning. You also want to avoid roaming charges when not using your phone in it’s native country.
Buy a professional phone number and get a UK ringtone
Moving to Spain in 2013 forced me into purchasing an local number in the geolocation I was targeting in Surrey. One of the most important factors was to ensure I had an English ringtone to avoid starting off with further questioning regarding my whereabouts. At this stage of the business, calls had begun to increase but it would have still had been an expense to use an answering message service to handle my calls for me.
I mistakenly went with the first company I found called ‘Call Ready’ which proved to be a mistake. This led to me finding the company TTNC which provided a full range of services to allow me to purchase a local number and manage my calls with call forwarding and a UK ringtone.
One area I have been a bit lazy in addressing is the method of making calls. Up until now, it has been perfectly acceptable to make calls via Skype directly to my clients phone. This usually shows my mobile phone number to the client that I am ringing. Previously this wasn’t much of an issue but now I am away for more prolonged periods and having to make more calls, people tend to try and call my mobile phone rather than the office.
As my mobile is switched off, they are directed straight to my personal answering my machine, unless I check that sim, I miss their messages.
Streamlining Your Calls & Becoming More Efficient
Over time Cude Design had grown and it was no longer feasible for me to take calls via my personal phone number. It only took a couple of clients who required additional TLC and I soon found that my productivity started to fall due to receiving many calls from the same 1 or 2 clients throughout the day. This pushed me into finding an answering service which could handle my calls and this proved to be such a great decision.
Over the next few weeks, I began to see the number of calls I would be receiving from the 1 – 2 troublesome clients fall. More often than not, they were getting in touch in regards to trivial matters which could have easily been emailed to me. Once people began to realise I wasn’t always available to pick up the call, this started to push communication via emails. The majority of calls I now receive are for new enquiries.
Up until this time, I hadn’t been travelling to either Asia or the US while attempting to manage the design agency. Moneypenny (the answering service) proved to be a necessity, especially while being in the US. With a significant time difference, the answering service was able to manage my incoming calls and I was able to concentrate on my business.
If you are setting up a business to target a specific location in your country, then I would strongly recommend purchasing a phone number which is assigned to that area. This looks professional and makes it look like you have a fixed base, rather than a mobile which often looks like you are running a business solo. An answering service might be out of your budget when first setting up and not a main priority. There will come a point though when you need to ensure your time is being managed efficiently and not managing calls which could easily be addressed via email or during a different period of a day.
If you are looking to be nomadic and your business relies on incoming calls, an answering service is a must. Otherwise you will be left with either clients unable to reach you or working unsociable hours to ensure these calls aren’t missed. Don’t forget about the roaming charges too.