For my photography studio, it is often just me doing all parts, from shooting, editing, taxes, etc. And it can be a pain in the butt to feel like you have to answer the phone during dinner or on vacation to Disney. And with about half of the calls coming through as spam, that’s a real headache. But, a missed call is often a missed job, so the calls need to get answered.
About a year ago, I started looking into virtual receptionists.
My cell phone number is my business number, so I have it set up so that my phone rings to me 3x first (just in case my kids or hubby call) and then it forwards over to a virtual receptionist. This has worked out great in that I don’t have to worry about missed calls in the middle of a newborn session, or when I just have a headache.
I’ve tried a couple, and I’m still looking for the company that works best for me. But, as with all things, there are SOOO many companies to choose from, so I had to make a spreadsheet to keep up with all the information.
5 people are assigned to answer your phone.
Intro, $129 mo
Basic, $279 mo
Best Value, $299 mo
30 day prorated
$99 set up on all but top plan
Auto Attendant, $45 mo
Computer gives them 3 options
Saver Plan, $49 mo
8 am to 10 pm EST, Monday through Friday
Starter, $59 mo
Value, $159, mo
No set up fees
Has Spanish option
Bronze, $100 mo
95 min included
$1.10 per min after
Silver, $200 mo
$1.05 per min after
Gold, $350 mo
$1.02 per min after
Can do medical, different charge
Mon-Fri 8-8 EST
Basic, $429 mo
Executive, $1169 mo
$99 set up fee. Waived for some plans.
Will do outbound calls
One size fits all, $79.95
$1.35 add minutes minute.
M-F 5am - 9pm, S-S 6am - 6pm PT
Impress, $309 mo
Engage, $589 mo
Captivate, $1369 mo
Can also run your 24/7 chat services
$1 each add
$.095 each add
$.092 per add minute
Had one of the cheapest rates for add minutes.
Silver, $39.95 mo
Gold, $90 mo
Has one of the cheapest prices for additional min.
Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 7:00
Starter plan, $90 mo
Entrepreneur plan, $239 mo
Executive plan, $349 mo
No custom script
Business, $75 mo
Executive, $525 mo
Please note that some of the companies have more packages than what are listed. Some also have secret packages or smaller packages. There are more companies than just these out there, as well. But some didn’t have their pricing very transparent or were much more expensive.
Things to Think About
All the companies seem to not charge for transferring a call. Otherwise, if you have a secondary phone number that they can transfer the call to you, once transferred, you don’t get charged for those minutes.
Some companies email you your messages, some text them to you. Some do both.
I didn’t need any of them to do online scheduling, as I do that myself, but some include online scheduling as part of their package. Others do it as an upgrade.
When choosing a company, another thing you need to consider is how they bill you. Is it by the minute? Do they round up? Or is it by the second? Also, do they charge for scam calls? Every company has a different policy.
With the average American getting 50% spam calls, you also have to factor this into your calls. And will the company charge you for it. Some do, some don’t. MoneyPenny allows for 10% of your calls to be spam and then they charge you after that.
Another option, is something like Task Bullet. You pay a flat rate. Their starter is $11 an hour, billed at $220 for 20 hours and they are a virtual assistant company. Your hours are good for 3 months and there is a money back guarantee. They can help with web development, social media, be a live agent on your website, call clients and more.
Companies I've Tried
I tried Conversational, MoneyPenny, Sunshine and possibly a couple of others. They each had their own issues. Some were kind of pricey, some just didn’t meet my standards. One of them my mom called and she felt like they were kind of rude, so that left a bad taste in my mouth. When I get inquiries, I need a first, last name, email, phone and info about the type of session the client needs. I need this vital information spelled correctly. I had Sunshine for several months and they were HORRIBLE about spelling. They would spell client names wrong or the email. Sometimes the email would be the client’s name and one or the other would be spelled wrong. I complained and complained, but nothing ever seemed to be done about it. So, no, it’s not a company I recommend if you need accurate messages.
The one thing I did like about Sunshine is that they both texted and emailed me my messages. But, the mistakes were causing embarrassing issues when I had to constantly verify a client’s email or name on call back.
I would highly suggest picking a couple that look like fit your budget and schedule the best and trying them out. Have a friend or family member that knows your business well do a test call and see how they do.
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Jacksonville, Florida photographer. We specialize in newborns, families and corporate photography. Our North Florida service areas include: Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra, Fernandina, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Fleming Island, MacClenny, Middleburg, Maxville, Yulee and Callahan. For more information and to get a custom quote, please contact Christy directly. Christy Whitehead Photography, 514 Chaffee Point Blvd. #9, Jacksonville, Fl 32221 - (904) 891-0359