Music teacher Kay Carter spends her summers providing private music lessons to elementary through high school students. She began offering the lessons to a few of her public school students who wanted to continue to work with her over the summer. By the second year, Kay realized tutoring could help her supplement her public school teacher’s salary while doing what she loved.
She printed flyers on her computer to advertise her services. She hung them on community bulletin boards and distributed them to church choirs. She even had them included as bag-stuffers in a local instrument repair shop. She doubled the number of regular students she had that summer, but she knew she could do better. By the time the school year started, Kay had a number of regular clients who continued their sessions one evening per week.
As the school year ended, Kay received several calls from former students who wanted to begin their summer sessions again. Kay wanted to give lessons full-time during the summer, if only she could fill her schedule. A friend suggested she hire an answering service to help her.
“An answering service,” Kay recalls, “seemed so far-fetched. I just teach music lessons out of my house. I didn’t really see a need for it.”
Fortunately Kay’s friend, an office manager, convinced her to try it. “I had no idea how many people I was missing,” Kay said.
“I missed calls if I went to the store or out to lunch. I just assumed people would leave a message. But they didn’t.
For me, it was just music lessons from my home.
“What I learned later was that though people liked the home atmosphere for the lessons, they expected someone to answer the phone like a business. I didn’t consider that when I started. Plus, I never interrupted a lesson to answer the phone. I just turned the ringer off and let it ring. That was another huge mistake.”
That third summer, Kay filled her schedule, in large part due to her answering service’s always-available, professional demeanor. She earned about a fourth of her year’s income during her summer “vacation” at her home.
“I would never have believed an answering service would have made such a difference. I have enough business now that I can limit my students to elementary-aged kids. I’ve enjoyed all my students, but the young kids have such an enthusiasm, especially when things start to click. I wish I’d used an answering service sooner. If it wasn’t for my friend’s insistence, I would have never gotten to this point.”
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. Contact Janet at email@example.com or 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.