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How to Choose Your Business Phone Number

Despite the growth of internet sales and communications, the preferred method of customer/business communications is by phone. The traditional phone call still tops the charts when it comes to ordering goods, asking questions, and sorting out complaints. So you can see why choosing the right business phone number is important.

The first part of the customers’ journey is often picking up the phone and dialing your number. Your phone number is a subconscious reflection of how the rest of the journey will go, so making the right choice is important for business owners.

Make the first part of the journey easy and the customer will feel assured and more confident about your company. They will be more likely to call again and again and again.

So, you need a suitable phone number. Phone numbers for business can differ in many ways from the normal private personal number. There are several different types, and selecting the one most suited to your business model is crucial. 

Table of Contents

What Are the Types of Business Phone Number?

Knowing how to choose your business phone number starts with understanding the available options. We’ve listed the different types of numbers below with a few of the benefits (pros) and disadvantages (cons) of each along with estimates of the price.

Local Business Phone Number

Pros

  • Shows you have a local presence
  • Great for building local relationships with customers
  • Easy and cheap to set up

Cons

  • Can make your business look smaller than you’d like
  • Not good for building trust and relationships with customers from outside of the area code

What is a Local Business Phone Number?

A local business number looks like a normal number with a local area code. It’s used to show people your business has a physical locality.

An example of this could be the number for your local office or shop. The head office might be several states away, but your business has a local office.

It portrays local knowledge and familiarity with the local market needs. It can help customers feel more connected than a national or international number. It suggests you serve a community, and this can help build trust.

Local numbers are usually a three-figure code that relates to your city or region. They are perfect for businesses with a physical presence that needs to get friendly with locals.

Of course, you can always use a local number alongside a national or vanity number to give customers a choice.

Costs

Local numbers are easy to set up and are cost-effective. You can even get a free local number with some service providers, while others may charge a minimal fee such as $10 per month.

Toll-Free Phone Number

Pros

  • Make the company look large and established
  • Gives your customers a way to contact you for free

Cons

  • You lose the local business image
  • You must pay for the customers’ calls

Toll-free numbers are usually 800 numbers (including 800, 888, 877, 855, 844, and 833). They help your business look like a national big business. A toll-free number does the customer a big favor by giving them a free way to contact you, but of course, you must pay for their calls!

A toll-free number is a great way to boost your customer service and marketing efforts. It helps improve your professional image and indicates you are prepared to invest in your customers. You want them to contact you and are willing to pay the costs of that contact.

They’re ideal for online businesses without any main customer-facing head office or HQ. A small business may choose one to appear larger than they are or signify an intention to grow and take on the bigger competitors.

Costs

Toll-free numbers also cost little to set up. Costs start at around $10 per month for a simple number. You do have to pay for all the customers’ calls, so long-distance or cell phone calls could make this expensive.

Vanity Phone Number

Pros

  • Easy to remember
  • Can spread your marketing message and brand

Cons

  • More expensive than a normal number
  • Sometimes difficult to buy popular numbers

What is a Vanity Business Phone Number?

A vanity number is a number that uses the letters on the phone’s keypad to spell out a word.

For example, a donut shop might have the number 1-800-JDONUTS. On the keypad, the customer dials 1-800-536-6887. You can see that remembering “jdonuts” is much easier than 536-6887.

You can get a significant increase in incoming calls (estimates range from 25% to 50%) with a vanity number. The simple reason is that the number is more memorable.

It’s also easier to include in advertising. Imagine a radio jingle for a shop called “J’s Donuts.” “JDonuts” is much less “clunky” to fit into a jingle than “536-6887.” It’s difficult to accidentally misspell “donuts”, while it’s easy to mistype 536-6887 and end up calling a nonexistent line.

Vanity phone numbers can also help with your brand awareness. The number can tell people what your company does. It’s a low-cost addition to your marketing strategy and can also portray your business as a large-scale enterprise and helps you boost credibility.

Your existing customers will be able to easily remember your number and new customers will learn the number much faster. Both add convenience to your customer’s “journey” to the sales department.

Costs

Your vanity number can cost anything from $19 right up to over $10,000, and you can buy them directly from the service provider.

Global Phone Number

Pros

  • Offer international customers a great way to contact you
  • You can reroute calls from all over the world to your HQ

Cons

  • More expensive than a normal number
  • Often internet based only

What is a Global Business Phone Number?

Your global business phone number acts as a local number to your customers anywhere in the world. The caller must only remember a simple local number to reach you in the head office on the other side of the ocean, so they’re great for international businesses.

A global number can also be a vanity and toll-free number, so your international customers can call you on a local, easy to remember, toll-free number. Now that’s true customer service! You can even have all of your global numbers routed to your main customer services center or HQ.

These are usually virtual internet-based numbers, and you can normally find a whole bundle of extra services available with the virtual number.

Costs

Costs can vary widely. A simple package can cost as little as $30 per month, and an enterprise-sized pack with extra services can cost over $500 per month. It pays to shop around!

Virtual Phone Number

Pros

  • Modern technology integrates with cell and landline phone systems
  • Offer huge flexibility and variety of services
  • Cost-effective for small businesses

Cons

  • Reliant on a good internet connection

What is a Virtual Business Phone Number?

A virtual business phone number is one that does not have a physical phone or line. They’re sometimes known as online or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) numbers.

Traditional numbers rely on an actual phone line. At the end of the line are a phone and any other expensive equipment such as the answerphone, switchboard, call recorder, etc. When someone dials the number, their phone is connected to the physical line and phone at the other end.

With a virtual number, all of these services are provided by software (SaaS – software as a service). They can be server or (more recently) cloud based.

Managing these extra services can be extremely easy. For example, the NetLines business phone system can be controlled via an app on your existing cell phone! This also means that you can get a second phone number without buying extra equipment.

Your virtual number can be set up to transfer incoming calls to any mobile cell or fixed landline phone, which makes this option ideal for businesses with remote workers.

Costs

Some providers supply a free virtual number, and others may charge a nominal $10. Virtual numbers are cheap and easy to set up making them great for small or mobile businesses.

NetLines is the most affordable virtual phone system on the market, starting at just $9/mn. View our plans and pricing here.

Area Codes to Avoid

Over the years, several area codes have become associated with various phone scams and robocalls. An example is where the phone rings but quickly cuts off. You call the number back only to hit a long-drawn-out recorded message. Later you find it cost $30 a minute to listen to the message.

Local and Federal governments regularly issue warnings about scammers working in a certain area and malicious calls using a certain number. Some area codes are used more than others.

Having a phone number with the same area code may have negative connotations and these numbers should be avoided. Typical numbers include the area codes 684, 671, 670, 787, 939 and 340. If you’re based in an area with one of these area codes then use a virtual, vanity or toll-free number.

Which Type of Number is Best for Your Business?

Only you can decide what type of number is the best fit for your business calls. It’s difficult to generalize and say one number fits one business type perfectly.

We can however make some rudimentary guidelines as follows:

  • Businesses trading in localized areas who depend on building local customer relations will benefit from having a simple local number
  • Established businesses with a loyal customer base are likely to favor the toll-free number. This is especially true if sales are dependent on phone conversations and repeat orders
  • Vanity numbers can be especially useful to businesses that drive sales via big advertising campaigns. The number is easy to remember and raises brand awareness
  • A global number is useful for the international sales business with local trade centered in various countries around the world
  • A virtual number could be useful to all types of business, big or small, who are looking for more facility (auto attendant, call recording, etc.)

Virtual business phone systems, such as NetLines, can offer you the most flexibility, affordable features and multiple number types all in one app on your existing phone.

The Bottom Line

Quite simply – choose the easiest one to remember.

Your business phone number is important. It’s part of someone’s first impressions of your company and reflects your company image in their subconscious.

Spend some time considering the best type of number for your business since it becomes part of your branding and advertising. Changing your number later will be difficult.

Also consider that technology is changing and ever advancing. Old traditional technology is slowly being replaced with cloud-based virtual systems, so investing now in a virtual service could be a prudent investment for the future to keep your company at the cutting edge of technology.

Categories: Small Business

Support Small Businesses this Holiday Season

Buying from small businesses is a great way to support your local community all year round – but as we approach the biggest shopping season of the year, it’s even more important to keep small businesses in mind. This year, small businesses are struggling more than ever due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, so showing support by buying gifts from your local shops, boutiques and restaurants will help them stay in business through the pandemic and continued lockdowns. 

Even if local businesses in your state are closing up shop due to the rising cases of COVID-19, you can still support those businesses and get your holiday shopping done all at the same time. Here are some ways everyone can shop small and local this holiday season, regardless of the restrictions in your state.

1. Shop online

Most businesses these days have an option to purchase their items online. Even if they don’t have a website, they might have an Instagram account to showcase their items so shoppers can see what they like and contact the store about purchasing details. With the internet, there are endless ways to support small businesses near and far – even in the midst of a pandemic. So look online to see what options are available for shopping at your favorite local boutiques, and find the perfect gift for your loved ones that will help keep those small businesses alive.

2. Purchase digital gift cards

Whether you want to treat your significant other to a wine tasting at your local winery once the pandemic subsides, or surprise your mom with a gift certificate to her local spa, purchasing gift cards online is a great way to support small businesses this holiday season, even if those businesses aren’t open right now. Visit the website of the business you want to support and look for an option to purchase a digital gift card, or contact the business for more information. 

3. Order in from local restaurants

Restaurants have been heavily affected by the pandemic, so it’s important to keep your local restaurants in mind while enjoying family time at home during the holidays. Consider ordering in some nights rather than cooking every night – maybe even dedicate one or two nights a week to ordering from your favorite local spot or visiting the restaurant to safely dine-in. Even when you do decide to cook at home, you can still support local businesses by purchasing ingredients from your local farmer’s market or family grocer. 

For small businesses that are switching to a more digital-based system, find out how NetLines can help streamline communication among your team. 

Categories: Small Business

Financial Planning Month: How to Get Started with Your Small Business

October is National Financial Planning Month – which means it’s the perfect time for small business owners to set their business up for financial success. Whether your business is just getting off the ground or is already well-established, it’s essential to set a financial plan every year in order to see success and growth in the long-term.

If you want your business to flourish this next year, here are three important action items for you to take this Financial Planning Month.

Set a budget

If you don’t already have a budget set for the upcoming year, now’s the time to set one. It’s important to have a plan for how you will invest in your business and set it up for steady, long-term growth. By setting a budget, you’re avoiding reckless spending and can keep yourself and your business accountable throughout the year by cross-checking your actual spending with your budget to see where you’re tracking.

It’s okay to give yourself some flexibility because there will always be unexpected events that may throw off predictions, but try to keep to your budget for the most part in order to build an upward trajectory of growth.

Look for money-saving opportunities

There are plenty of ways to save money in all aspects of your business – but it’s important to understand where you can save money and where you should invest it.

For example, a small flower business getting off the ground would benefit from investing more ad dollars on social media platforms like Instagram, but it can probably save money by ordering delivery packaging from a budget-friendly company.

Switching to a cloud-based business phone app is another way small businesses of all kinds can save tons of money without sacrificing convenience or efficiency.

In fact, businesses can improve efficiency, convenience and privacy when they switch to NetLines. Employees can use their own mobile devices for business communication without revealing their personal number, so think of it as adding a second phone number without the hardware.

It’s an easy switch, and it starts at only $9 per month, whereas a traditional business phone line can cost upwards of $30 per month.

Plan for the unknown

With an election coming up and the world still facing the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now that could affect your small business. Make sure you have a plan for what’s to come and consider giving your business a cushion of extra savings to dip into just in case the country faces more economic hurdles in the coming year.

It’s a tough time to get a small business off the ground, but if you play it smart, your business can still be successful. Check out our tips for successfully launching a small business during the pandemic.

Categories: Small Business

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