Choosing to use a virtual receptionist to handle the call answering/routing for your business can be a huge cost-saving move that also improves the customer experience.
Over the last few years, the term “Virtual Receptionist” has quickly caught fire in the global business community. Small businesses and solopreneurs have come to rely on this flexible resource in industries that reach from Real Estate to eCommerce and beyond. As for big businesses like banks and retail companies, they have been able to scale their phone support efforts like never before with remote resources that are more cost effective.
Chances are you have considered using a virtual receptionist service for your own business, but haven’t quite made it past fears and doubts of the unknown.
- “Will callers be getting a positive experience of my brand?”
- “What happens when they don’t know an answer to a callers question?”
- “Would it be better to invest in a Virtual Receptionist, or hire an internal employee I can see every day?”
Without first-hand experience, the concept of a using a Virtual Receptionist can be difficult to wrap your head around. One of the most effective ways to weigh the pros and cons is to simply take a quick look at the numbers.
In-house Receptionist Costs
When you are hiring an employee, it is true that you get the benefit of seeing them and managing them directly. But it is important to consider the expenses you incur from having to support a warm body in your office.
The first and most obvious cost is the base salary. According to Salary.com, the US national median base salary of a receptionist in 2017 is over $33K/year. You may not think that is a lot in terms of how much they are earning, but when you are a small business that has to take that cost straight off from your bottom line, you might decide it is time to start thinking outside the box.
When it comes to employee related taxes, you are on the hook for a percentage that goes above and beyond what you have agreed to pay them when they first came aboard. According to irs.gov website, as an employer you will need to contribute 6.2% of the base salary towards social security and 1.45% towards Medicare for each employee. If we are working with the nice round salary of $33K, that is nearly $2,050 in social security taxes alone.
Workers Comp Insurance
Nearly every business with even a single employee is required by their state to carry workers comp insurance. This expense can vary significantly depending on which state you live in. For example, “Per $100 in employee wages, Workers’ Comp costs in the United States ranged from $.75 in Texas to $2.74 in Alaska…” according to the small business online insurance agency, Insureon. If we again use the magic $33K number, that would be an extra $330 for your receptionist alone.
Office Space & Equipment
In an article written back in 2013, entrepeneur.com cited that the national average cost of commercial office space per square foot was $23.23/sf/yr. If all you did was give your receptionist a tight cubicle sized space of 5’x5’ and completely ignore the fact that they will need to have a place to park, a restroom, a computer, a phone, a chair and a desk, you are still looking at an annual cost of over $580/yr just so your receptionist can have a spot to exist while they answer your phones.
If you are a kind employer, you might want to offer your employees some benefits. Maybe you want to contribute to their health insurance, or you are considering ponying-up some dough towards a 401K. Those are all nice, but there are more basic benefits employees expect that will need to come from your pocket as well, like 2 weeks paid vacation, paid holidays, paid sick leave, maternity leave, etc. Even the standard benefits employees expect from their employers can really add up and become a hefty burden that may or may not contribute to the productivity you are paying for.
Virtual Receptionist Service Costs
A virtual receptionist service typically has pricing tiers where you only pay for the time a representative spends on the phone with your callers. Sometimes they’ll also charge a small patch fee for transferring calls. The service provider will typically give you a base rate of time they will sell you, and give you a discount on time if your business requires a greater volume. Virtual receptionist plans generally start around $55-$75/month.
Set Up Fees and Contracts
While some virtual receptionist companies may charge additional fees like a setup fee or sign you up on a lengthy contract agreement, other service providers will go out of their way to make it easy by providing simple month-month service agreements. Some even offer free trial periods so you can experience their services without any risk or setup costs.
Additional Costs and Fees
There are none! That’s right. Unlike an employee who requires taxes, insurance, equipment, office space, etc.; virtual receptionist service providers come with no employer expenses for your company to bear.
While the initial experience of trying a virtual receptionist service may feel unusual at first, the significant savings you would gain makes it clearly an option worth exploring. Picking the best service provider will be the most critical element to ensuring your experience goes as smoothly as possible. Once you’ve found the service that best fits your business and your phones are on “autopilot,” you’ll forget why you ever hesitated in the first place.