Jerry Pelzer started Commercial Cleaning and Restoration Services as a one-man company, so he was seldom in the office when the phone rang. After his old answering machine died, he realized he needed a reliable voicemail system. “The voicemail was sound and functional,” recalled Jerry. “It gave me peace of mind when I went home at the end of the day.” To grow his business he ran some ads in his local newspaper and placed online ads targeted to local businesses. “That’s when I learned something the hard way.” People saw my ad, and they called, but they got voicemail. “The first day I had nine hang ups, two irritated callers who didn’t leave their phone numbers, and no new business.” “At first I thought the voicemail was broken, but I tested it, and it worked just fine.” Eventually he realized people don’t usually place orders with a machine. He needed a cost-effective alternative. He considered putting his home phone in the ads or perhaps his cell phone, “but those both seemed like foolish moves.” What he did try was scheduling someone to stay until ten each evening. Though that actually gained him some new business, it threatened to cost him some staff in the process. Most of them didn’t like being cooped up in the office or selling over the phone. Plus he was sure their lack of enthusiasm cost him some sales. Vanessa, his administrative assistant, however, did a great job, but that took her out of the office during most of the business day. Plus she wanted to be home with her family in the evening—just like Jerry. “When she gave me an ultimatum, I knew I needed to make a decisive move and to do it quickly.” Fortunately Vanessa’s fix-this-or-else demand also came with a solution. She recommended Jerry hire a telephone answering service to take those calls instead of using an impersonal voicemail system. “That’s when I found out she had worked at an answering service all through college, which also explained her impeccable phone skills.” A smart man, he authorized Vanessa to go ahead and make it happen. By the end of the day, she had the answering service all set up and ready to take their calls that evening. The answering service gets all the information needed to provide a preliminary quote, which they email to Vanessa. Each morning she enters that into Jerry’s quoting system and emails it to their prospects. Then Jerry follows up with a phone call and then an onsite review to close the deal. “Once I added the answering service into the equation, our close ratio has increased and our ROI (return on investment) has doubled. The answering service actually pays for itself in new business.” Vanessa, who now spends her evenings at home with her family, is just as happy with the results. However, she’s already planning the next steps. First, she wants to give the answering service secure access to their quoting system to give preliminary quotes over the phone. Next, she plans to set up a scheduling calendar so the answering service can schedule Jerry’s appointments the next day. “My goal is for Jerry to be closing the sale before our competitors even have a chance to call back.” Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan. Contact us to learn how a telephone answering service can answer your calls 24/7 to better serve your customers and help keep your staff happy.