Are you the owner of a startup business trying to stay organized? Do you run a small office and want to maximize profits by keeping overhead down? Hiring a virtual receptionist is a perfect solution. Here’s what you need to know about this growing trend with businesses of all sizes and types, including solo ventures and brand-new companies. 

Common Office Challenges for Startups and Small Businesses

Maintaining an office can be tough if you’re a startup company or even a business that’s been established for a while but has remained small. The first concern for businesses like this is usually the bottom line. The hiring of office staff, like a receptionist, can be costly. Although the going rate is less in some areas, the US average is $15 per hour, with the higher end of the scale topping out above $21 per hour.

That wage range doesn’t include benefits or other expenses like hiring temps when your receptionist is out sick or on vacation. You can’t afford to miss important calls or have visitors arrive at an empty reception area. But if you keep your staff extra lean for improved profitability, you probably don’t have anyone internally to fill in for reception duties.

There are other challenges startups and small companies face when hiring receptionists:

  • Paying for office equipment, like phone systems and computers
  • High turnover in low-level positions (for businesses like veterinary clinics, this can be up to 25% per year at the front desk)
  • The poor labor pool in some areas of the country
  • Unexpected issues like the pandemic caused widespread work outages

Covid has been hard on many businesses from a staffing viewpoint. First, it prompted many workers to look at their earnings and quality of life, which led to many quitting jobs they felt were either financially or emotionally unrewarding (or both). Second, when people isolated themselves in 2020, it highlighted how many jobs could be performed remotely.

Small business owner packing boxes

Receptionist Duties Are a Problem for More Established Companies Too

Many of the troubles listed above are experienced by veteran businesses as well. Although their budgets may not be quite as tight as their younger counterparts, they still need to keep an eye on profit margins. The focus on saving money will be major in 2023, between inflation, gas shortages, and anticipation of continued economic woes.

Established businesses, even large ones, still need receptionists for a wide range of duties, which may overlap with secretarial positions, to keep the company running smoothly:

  • Answering phones
  • Greeting visitors
  • Maintaining security at the entrance
  • Signing for and distributing deliveries
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Sorting and managing outgoing mail
  • Taking dictation and typing correspondence
  • Filing and record keeping
  • Setting up meetings and interviews
  • Making travel arrangements
  • Getting lunch, making coffee, serving refreshments, etc.
  • Cleaning meeting rooms and the reception area
  • Taking care of plants and floral arrangements

Some of these jobs are more important than others. And the same work-from-home quandary that has affected startup businesses has been a problem for decades. If many employees are now working remotely and more business is being done online, companies are asking if it even makes sense to maintain a physical office.

Without a brick-and-mortar reception area, jobs like cleaning, watering plants, and serving food are no longer issues. What’s needed are the core receptionist duties: answering phones and scheduling appointments.

Remote work was already on an upward trend before the pandemic. But 2020 saw a dramatic increase in working from home. In 2021, 18 percent of the workforce telecommuted on a full-time basis. Companies save an average of $11,000 annually per employee just for half-time remote work.

Whether you decide it’s advantageous to maintain just a small staff at your physical location or believe a 100 percent virtual office is best for your business, a virtual receptionist can make operations run more efficiently.

Smiling virtual receptionist in a call center

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is a live answering service with operators available 24/7 to answer incoming calls, take orders, book appointments, and handle customer inquiries. The service can be supplemented by automated solutions such as auto attendant and interactive voice response (IVR) menus which provide customers with personalized experiences. With features like shared voicemails, call routing, and customized greetings, a virtual receptionist makes it easy for businesses of any size to offer quality customer service while keeping costs low.

What Does a Virtual Receptionist Do?

A virtual receptionist for a small business or large enterprise does many of the tasks outlined previously. Most importantly, they ensure your phone is answered during normal business hours or extended hours at night and on weekends.

Depending on your virtual receptionist’s setup, they may direct calls or forward messages to you, managers, and employees. Or, they may take messages to be relayed later. They screen out time wasters like scam calls and triage calls based on their priority level. They hold messages about unimportant issues and immediately let you know about or forward urgent calls.

Say you run a small eCommerce company. You keep your staffing and physical presence minimum by outsourcing product fulfillment and having customer service employees work from home. But you get busy sourcing materials for your products and meeting with marketing professionals to bring in new customers. You don’t want to be interrupted every five minutes by phone calls, many of which are about things that could wait until the end of the day. You don’t have a formal office, so you’re not worried about visitors. A virtual receptionist is perfect for this scenario, as it lets you concentrate on your most important duties without missing any vital calls about importing supplies or advertising deadlines.

Some virtual receptionists can also do things like scheduling appointments and processing orders. They might dispatch staff for you if, for example, you run an appliance repair or property management company. They can direct medical and psychology clinic patients to emergency resources, including after-hours. They can also record employee absences via a call-off line, so you can accurately record sick days and schedule replacement workers.

Virtual Receptionist Benefits

When arranged properly, a virtual receptionist creates the same feeling as having in-office staff for your callers. It puts a professional face on your business and makes you look more organized and caring of your clients and associates. Your business runs efficiently even if you have multiple locations around your city or the globe.

There are multiple other benefits to using a virtual receptionist, and many companies partner with a virtual receptionist answering service rather than hiring in-house. This brings even more advantages to the list, which include:

  • No protracted hiring process or need to advertise for receptionist job candidates
  • No concerns about the job applicant pool in your area
  • Little to no training is required, as the answering service does that once you set up preferences
  • Paying benefits and other perks isn’t required
  • No need for expenses outside of salary, like phones, office equipment, or remote worker liability insurance
  • Phone coverage 24/7, 365 days a year, if you need it
  • No worries about covering receptionist vacation time, sick days, or unexpected PTO for family emergencies and the like
  • Capability to handle seasonal or other fluctuations in call volume based on your type of business and location
  • Ability to scale your company more easily and add more receptionists or other virtual services as needed

How Does a CMS Virtual Receptionist Work?

You can check all the boxes above if your business partners with an experienced and highly rated virtual receptionist answering service like CMS. Enjoy that lean budget and better profit margins while still meeting your customers’ needs and looking professional, whether you’re a two-person business that’s been around for years or a startup with 100 employees around the globe.

We have been providing virtual receptionist services for decades for companies all over the US in a variety of industries, including:

  • eCommerce
  • Property management
  • Construction and field service
  • Real estate
  • Legal
  • Funeral homes
  • Finance
  • Healthcare

Whether you’re a solo CPA, an independent family counseling clinic, or an HVAC repair company, we can customize virtual receptionist services for your business so you never miss a call when you’re busy or off work.

Our clients at CMS also enjoy having all their numbers under one roof. Customers don’t need to worry about finding the right number for a specific department or location. Even better, you’ll appreciate these benefits:

  • All operators are located in the USA.
  • Every call is recorded and time-stamped for increased accuracy.
  • You can view your messages via an online dashboard or receive them via email, text message, or fax.
  • You are only charged for the time CMS operators work for your business.

You read that last part correctly. Our service is the most economical of the many options discussed here, which gives you a competitive advantage as a startup or small business. Put that money into growing your business or simply giving yourself more time off.

Speaking of growing your business, we make that easy too. CMS offers a wide array of answering service options to complement virtual receptionist tasks, such as:

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Customer service
  • Order processing
  • Employee call-off hotline
  • Dispatching
  • Automated systems (IVR)

Hire the Best Virtual Receptionists for Your Small Busines

Don’t let a tight budget or small operation keep you from putting your best face forward to your customers and colleagues. To learn more about virtual receptionist answering services from CMS, call us at 800-369-8908. You can also reach out online and request a quote anytime.

By Last Updated: August 18, 2023Categories: Blog8 min read