Business needs for an answering service can vary considerably. A company may need a phone to be answered all day, part of the day, after hours only, or 24 hours a day. You can enter this profession at any level you
choose. The amount of equipment you'll need to get going will also fluctuate depending on how much time you want to devote to your home-based answering business.
Most often, businesses need their phones covered during an "extended" work day, say 8:00 A.M.- 8:00 P.M.,
with an answering machine taking over the other, less likely, 12 hour call period. Twelve hours can be a long
day if you're going it alone, so you may wish to solicit businesses that generally are looking for the phones to
be answered from 9 AM to 5 or 6 PM. This makes it more likely for you to do the job yourself and work it
easily into your family's schedule, too.
Once you identify your work hours, you can begin the task of soliciting businesses to contract with you.
Before embarking on this important effort, you should establish a goal of how many companies you want to
represent. You can certainly take on more than one company if all you're doing is answering the phone.
How many businesses you take on will dictate how you set up your service. The easiest and most inexpensive
way to begin is to have a separate phone line and phone for each business you contract with. You would then
mark each individual phone with the company name as an identifier for you when the phones begin to ring.
This is the best route if you're going to work with ten or fewer businesses. If you intend to take on more than
ten firms, then it would be more cost and space effective to lease a switchboard from your local telephone
company. A switchboard can accommodate a substantial amount of business activity for you.
Installing separate phone lines should run less than $100 each (possibly higher in some parts of the country).
You will also pay basic monthly charges for each phone. This should average about $20-25 per month (again,
possibly higher in some parts of the country). If you are buying actual telephones, these can be acquired
inexpensively at local stores.
Before buying all these phones and contracting with businesses, check with the phone company to see how
many extra lines you can obtain. There may be a limit in your residential neighborhood.
How many clients
you can take on will depend on the number of lines you can install You might consider opening up an office
in a nearby commercial area, where the number of lines you need can be accommodated. However, this is
beyond the scope of your home-based answering service.
The amount and type of equipment you obtain will be dictated by your ambition and your budget. It can be as
simple as individual phone lines or as complex as computer screens that flash messages or record instructions
for you to convey.