As a cost-conscious small-business owner, you have to cut costs wherever and whenever you can. Every expense is subject to a microscope in today's business environment, including the cost of your toll-free 800 phone number.
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Although the process of establishing a toll-free number is highly affordable, the real impact is felt when your number is doing what it was designed to do, i.e. increasing the volume of calls you receive from consumers who are interested in learning more about your products or services.
In fact, if your toll-free number costs are negligible, it's probably a sign that you haven't been effective in promoting your 800 number to the buying public.
Even so, it's important to make sure that you're not spending more than is necessary on toll-free communication. Although you'll never find an 800 number service that is as cheap as local calls, there are several strategies you can execute to minimize its impact on your budget. Here are a few that will get the ball rolling in no time at all.
- Incoming vs. outgoing rates. Toll-free service providers make it easy for you to set up and maintain an 800 number. But what you might not know is that some providers charge more for incoming long-distance calls than you pay for outgoing long-distance. Look for providers who charge a consistent rate, regardless of whether the calls are made to or made from your business.
- Portability. FCC regulations mandate that toll-free numbers remain portable. That means that you can keep the same toll-free number when you move from one 800-number provider to the next. In other words, there's no excuse for not shopping around for the best rates.
- Block payphones. Pay phones are rapidly going the way of the dinosaurs. But there are still enough of them around to make it worthwhile to block pay phone calls to your 800-number line. These calls are subject to a payphone surcharge that costs significantly more than other incoming calls.
- Limit hours. A lot of entrepreneurs don't realize that toll-free numbers can be limited to specific business hours. If a customer calls your business' toll-free line when no one is there, the only outcome it delivers is a higher phone bill.
- Geographic restrictions. Similarly, toll-free service providers have the ability to limit your incoming 800 numbers to specific geographic areas. If your company doesn't provide service in certain areas, it makes sense to block toll-free calls from those regions.