"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one,"
- Mr. Spock
Although it may seem like we should have Aristotle or at least Goethe to thank for this quote, in fact it's not any of the great philosophers, it's really Star Trek's Mr. Spock, who first said it in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
As it turns out that simple movie line actually applies to many situations in life - including how small construction companies manage their business calls. Because what works well for an individual user often doesn't work as well for the multiple users involved in a small construction business.
As individuals, we all have multiple phone numbers these days - work, home, mobile, sometimes even our vehicles have their own numbers. Yet it seems like the more ways we have to be called, the more difficult it is to reach us. That's what makes those free "consolidate all your phones under one number" consumer services look so attractive.
Instead, a better choice may be a virtual phone service that caters to small businesses. A virtual phone service allows you to:
- Unite all of your employees and workers under a single virtual phone number
- Create individual extensions for each user - even if those users are spread all across North America in different office branches or construction sites
- Set individual extensions that can ring all of the users' different phones one at a time or all once
- Provide the same level of "reachability" as services for individuals
The value of a virtual phone service for small business goes well beyond "one number to call" convenience, however. It also adds functionality that improves your construction business on several levels.
Creating a More Professional Image
When customers, prospects, etc. call the virtual receptionist they are met with a professional greeting, just like they would receive if they called a large construction company. The virtual receptionist also includes a dial-by-name directory, helping callers find the right person to connect with even if they're not sure who the right person is.
Utilizing Multiple Extensions
Having multiple extensions under one number makes it possible for employees to transfer or forward an outside call from one employee to another, if needed. So if you are a contractor receiving a call for the billing or sales department, you can transfer that call no matter where the department might be located. That's something you can't do with the consumer services.
Small Business Marketing
A virtual phone service even helps with marketing your small construction business. You can advertise a special offer, and have customers call a specific extension to learn more. This technique not only promotes the offer - it allows you to determine which advertising medium is most effective so you know where to concentrate future marketing efforts.
Limits of a Single Phone Number
Having a single number that rings all your phones at once makes sense. Callers don't have to try to figure out where you are, or worry about your schedule. They just call the number and the technology takes care of the rest.
Again, that's perfect for the one. Where it falls apart, however, is when you try to apply that same free technology to the few, or the many - i.e. a small construction company. At that point, you get what you pay for.
Let's say you own a small construction business, and you have two additional employees. You each get a number from one of those free phone services with the idea each employee can now be reached anywhere, whether they are on site or in the office. It still means customers, prospects, vendors, etc. have a choice of three mutually exclusive numbers to call. If your construction company is beginning to grow and you need to add a new employee to the service, that's one more number in the mix. And if the caller only knows one of those numbers already, there's no way for him/her to discover what the others are. As Mr. Spock would say, it's not logical.
What if you're a single contractor who doesn't have any other employees? Wouldn't the consumer-level service work then? Yes - providing you always plan to be a one-person construction company.
If you hope to add employees in the future, though, it's not such a good idea because the phone number you'll receive isn't portable. In other words, you'll spend a lot of time and effort promoting one number, then will have to retrain customers, business partners, etc. when it's time to move to a more business-oriented phone service. It would be the equivalent of building a Web site with a specific address, spending a lot of money driving traffic to it, then changing that address down the road. It can be done, but not without a lot of pain.
Consumer phone services are fine for helping individuals manage their different phone numbers. But they're not very good for construction business users.
To address the needs of the many, or even the few, opt instead for a virtual phone service for small business. It may not help you live longer, but it will definitely help you prosper.
Kevin Baker is my1voice Product Marketing Manager for Protus (www.protus.com), provider of the highest quality Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) communication tools for small-to-medium businesses (SMB) and enterprise organizations, including my1voice, the cost-effective, feature-rich virtual phone service that travels with the user from phone to web, award-winning MyFax, the fastest growing Internet fax service and Campaigner, an email marketing solution with advanced automation features. Kevin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org