Most every business owner and manager is eager to oversee a growing, expanding operation. It’s exciting to go into work each day and grapple with the challenge of meeting the growing demand for your products or services. The place is palpable with anticipation. Things are going great, and those in charge can ride the wave of success. The opposite scenario is not so exciting. It comes from overseeing a declining, shrinking business. The solution is to downsize, to scale back and reduce the scope of operations, including the head count, one of the most challenging of all management situations. If the need to downsize occurs, your telephone answering service can become a huge resource. Consider these options: Reduce the Number of Receptionists: If your company has a switchboard or phone console, you need someone to staff it, usually more than one person. Besides there being a need to cover for the main receptionist’s breaks, lunch, vacation, and sick days, most businesses are open for more hours than one fulltime employee can cover. For example if your hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, that’s forty-five hours per week, five hours more than a fulltime employee can cover. Phase out the backup receptionist’s position and let your answering service fill those open slots. Eliminate All Telephone Receptionists: As an alternative you can eliminate all of your telephone receptionist positions, and let your answering service handle all of your calls: take messages, give out information, and transfer callers. While you could automate this entire process, the customer fallout usually comes at too high of a price. Instead, retain the personal touch for a fraction of the cost. Reduce Hours of Operation: What are your hours of operation? Can you scale them back? Do you need to have staff in the office on Saturday? Can you open one hour later during the week? Is it cost-effective to have staff working evenings, weekends, and third shifts to handle phone calls, such as customer service, telephone orders, dispatching, and so forth? Scale back your hours, and let your answering service pick up the slack. Outsource Higher Level Tasks: Answering services do much more than take a name, number, and a message. They can take phone orders, set appointments, handle customer service calls, perform first level help desk work (and sometimes second level, too), dispatch emergencies to on-call personnel, do social media monitoring and customer service, process general email inquiries, handle text messaging, and even provide remote troubleshooting. Why do these things in house when you can outsource them to your answering service? Downsizing a business is hard, thankless work, but an answering service can help make the task a bit easier. 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.