One of the first steps my real estate clients take is bundling up every single scrap of marketing literature, materials and what-not that they currently use, or have used in the past — and they send it to me to review.
Usually their business cards, letterhead, brochures and other marketing pieces are cluttered with a slew of phone numbers. So many, in fact, it’s a point of distraction.
Why make your clients and your potential clients work to reach you? Why shouldn’t making the decision to call you be decision enough? Why must they then decide if they want to visit you on the web, email you, call you at home, dial the “main number,” dial the direct line, call your cell, send a fax or punch in your pager number?
I recommend that my clients do what I’ve done… get a single business number.
Want to know how to have a single, perfect phone number? (And for those of you with brokers that require their number on your materials, you can at least whittle it down to two.)
Pick an 800 number if possible. There are several services that offer “follow me” options. If you have one phone number, you can send it wherever you are.
Clients often ask me if an 800 number is better than an 888 or 866, or some other combination for toll free. The answer, IMHO, is YES. Everyone knows that an 800 number is toll free. Everyone isn’t quite so sure about other prefixes. If you can secure an easy to remember 800 number — do it. And you better do it quickly, because the stockpile of those numbers are dipping lower every day. There are far fewer options now, than there were three or four years ago when I secured mine.
Be sure your 800 service will let you PUSH the number and PULL the number. That way, you can forward it (PUSH it) quickly and easily before leaving and, in case you forget, you can PULL it to the number where you are.
Personally, I use AccessLine.com for my own business and I love it. It follows me by cell, it accepts faxes and I can forward them to my computer from an easy-to-use online interface, it will even follow me to another land line — even in another state — if needed.
A professional associate, swears by Kall8.com for her own purposes. Kall8 offers a “whisper” feature that announces to you privately when a call originated from your 800 number. Both services permit online access to messages, the ability to download them and to forward them to others (or your own computer) via email.
Want to play with spelling things with available 800 numbers? Go to AT&T’s 800 Number Lookup Tool and go wild. That’s how I found that 800-WICKED8 was available way back when. I called my local company told them what number I wanted and they set it up.
BTW… 800 numbers are now portable, the same as your cell phone numbers. So, you don’t have to worry about losing the 800 number — ever. Nice, isn’t it?
The other thing I like about AccessLine’s service, is that it allows me to go back to a single phone line in my home office. It’s really cut my phone bills. When I’m on the landline, it rolls over to voice mail. And, the second it does that, I get an email telling me that I have a voicemail message. When I get off the line, I don’t have to call the 800 number to get the message (which would charge me my toll rate) — I can pick up my messages online by simply logging into my account. I have that in my Foxfire quick tabs folder and it takes less time to pull it up and listen to the voice mail play than it would take to dial my 800 and push the buttons to listen to voice mail.
I have a long distance plan through Qwest which has a $20 per month cap. No matter HOW much I call, it’s never more than $20. Of course, the first couple months, Qwest had something wrong and we had to sort out why I got a couple $600 dollar bills. But, since that fiasco, all’s well. Apparently, that $20 cap deal is something you have to request, it’s not something they openly advertise — for obvious reasons.
So, I have a cell phone bill, a Qwest Bill, an 800 bill, and a standard phone line bill. But, with them all set up on auto pay, it’s great. And I have ONE number. No matter where I am, people can dial one number and find me. If I’m out with the Treo, and I’m low on bars, the voice mail will pick it up and email me notice.
My phone bill, considering my high useage, is incredibly low. And, I can run my business from anywhere — Thanks to my 800 number and a system that works. It also offers me the ability to be “unavailable” with a professional messaging system afterhours or during vacation. It’s nice.
So, isn’t it about time you simplify your contact information for your clients?