Summer is an incredibly busy time for Weyden Dozier. His company, Dozier Prop Works, offers propeller and fiberglass hull repair services to recreational boaters. Dozier’s business is nestled on the bank of a major waterway and reservoir popular with fishermen, water skiers, and vacationing families. To cope with the high seasonal demand for its services, Dozier Prop Works relies on a telephone answering service to help serve its customers. “Just last week, a guy called us on a Sunday afternoon. The very first time he took his boat out, he hit a submerged tree trunk and put a hole in his hull. It was a $45,000 boat, and it had only been wet for an hour,” said Weyden. “Since it was a Sunday we weren’t open. Our answering service helped him, though. They took down all the details, told him where to deliver the boat, and emailed him a work order. When the guys got to the shop on Monday, everything was ready to go. Lucky for him, the boat was fully insured. We got him up and running in about two weeks, with lots of summer left for him to enjoy his new boat.” The waterway is also a nationally known walleye fishery. “One of our most-common jobs is prop repair. Those fishermen are really serious; a few of them are sponsored professionals. For them, service has to be available,” said Weyden. The service Dozier Prop Works offers has cultivated a national customer base. “Mostly, our non-local customers are big-time fishermen. Since we do good work, offer 24-hour service, and turn around jobs quickly, we’ve attracted a lot of out-of-town customers,” said Weyden. “Word spreads quickly.” Pursuing this national market meant making some changes. First Weyden added a toll-free number to encourage his nationwide customers. Initially, it didn’t seem this would pay off because his phone system couldn’t handle the influx of calls during the day and no one was around to answer the calls afterhours from different time zones. To overcome these challenges, Weyden has calls overflow to his answering service during the day when the phone lines light up. If a customer attempts to contact his shop when the lines are busy, the call automatically forwards to the answering service. Their professional staff handles routine matters, such as providing standard prices, turnaround times, and shipping information. For more complicated questions, messages are sent to his fax machine in the shop. “Yeah, it’s old school, but it works for us. At first we tried email but would forget to check it for hours.” Weyden also added after-hours answering service coverage to serve customers in other time zones. When an out-of-state customer’s prop is damaged, they can receive repair tickets directly from the service. The customer then ships the prop directly to the Prop Works. “Using a telephone answering service,” says Weyden, “opened up a whole new realm of opportunity.” His off-season work has picked up, too. “Word-of-mouth advertising has been a big part of our success, but so has answering the phone when people call – whatever time of day or night that might be. There’s no substitute for that kind of service.” Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry – and who helps businesses and organizations find the perfect answering service. Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706.Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.