business phone system

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When you’re running any kind of real estate business, the phone is going to be an important part of your life.

Even if you hate talking on the phone and you choose to route your callers through a special voicemail message, your phone system will STILL be one of the primary communication tools you use to find new opportunities, follow-up with leads, close deals, and make money.

If you’re going to be effective in the business world, you must have a reliable, efficient, cost-effective and easy-to-use phone system that allows you to accomplish those essential, daily tasks every business owner needs to do. There’s just no way around it.

Even if your goal is to spend less and less time on the phone (as mine has always been), you still need the right infrastructure in place. If you haven’t already taken these steps, you’re probably working a lot harder than you need to, or you’re not doing the best job of managing your verbal communication with clients and customers.

We’re going to fix that right now.

Why Is This So Important?

A cloud-based, feature-packed phone system is one of the few items I think is actually an essential thing to pay for from day one.

One of the better cloud-based phone services I’ve known about for years is called FreedomVoice.

Let me give you a look around so you can see how it works…

While there are SEVERAL other service providers out there who offer similar packages (Phone.com and Grasshopper are some other options) and all of them probably do a fine job, FreedomVoice is one of the solid players that I’ve had a good first-hand experience with, and I’ve also heard great feedback from others who use it.

While FreedomVoice isn’t perfect, it does offer all the features I’ve found to be VITAL for a real estate investing business.

Faxing Capabilities (Incoming & Outgoing)

When I first set up my business, I didn’t realize how important faxing capabilities would end up being, but it’s actually kind of a big deal. Let me explain…

The fax machine isn’t something most of us gravitate towards these days. Email and other digital messaging options have made it much easier for people to send and receive documents, images, and other types of information.

The problem is, it’s not just about your or my preferences. When you’re dealing with every kind of buyer and seller under the sun, you’ll learn pretty quickly that there are MANY different levels of sophistication out there. Just because you normally use a fax machine doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of other people who do (perhaps they’re stuck with ancient technology or maybe they’re using it out of necessity).

If you’re working with a property owner who has a property worth $100,000 and they’re willing to sell it to you for 10% of market value – trust me – you want to make it as easy as possible for them to work with you, even if that means allowing them to send you a fax.

If a fax machine a person’s only way to send you their signed acceptance – you DON’T want to create obstacles and make it hard for them to give you what you want.

Luckily, faxing capabilities are built into every FreedomVoice plan.

Answering Rules & Extensions

If you choose a paid service like FreedomVoice, be sure to record a nice greeting (or even a longer message – like the one I mention in this blog post), create some extensions if you need them and set up some basic answering rules.

For example:

  • Are there certain hours of the day when you’re not available to talk? Tell the system when you’re “open for business” and willing to accept calls.
  • Do you want calls forwarded to another number during certain times and days (or after a certain number of rings)? Tell the system where to send calls at the appropriate time.
  • If your business receives calls from different types of people (e.g. – buyers, sellers, vendors, business associates, etc.), set up a few extensions for each type of caller. Give these people a better experience by providing them with a dedicated toll-free number and automatically routing them to the right person/department/voicemail box. This will save everyone time, especially you.

The ability to set up these kinds of rules and extensions is a HUGE luxury. It will take some time to do in the beginning – but you only have to do it once and believe me, it’s worth the effort on the front end.

These days, I honestly don’t even pick up the phone when a prospect calls me. My phone system is programmed to route callers straight-to-voicemail and this message (below) is what that they hear.

Note: If you want a copy of this exact voicemail script, you can find it at the bottom of this blog post.

Toll-Free Numbers

Toll-free numbers are one of the many perks that come with a paid phone system. In my opinion, a toll-free number is probably the least critical item on the list (just being totally honest), but it’s nice to have one when the situation calls for it.

Working with one local number for everything is totally doable, but I’ve also found that toll-free numbers can be a great asset to have at your disposal (especially when you’re dealing with clients outside of your immediate area code).

The additional cost of using a toll-free number is nominal, and it helps your business look like a serious operation. It also helps eliminate some of the minor reservations that some folks may have about calling you.

For years now, I’ve used two toll-free “888” numbers in my business – one for the buying arm and one for the selling arm of my business. My goal is to make these two arms appear and function like two separate businesses.

  • With two separate phone numbers
  • With two different company names (a simple dba filing with my state)
  • With two separate websites

Luckily, this kind of cloud-based phone service makes it VERY easy to organize my phone numbers in a way that aligns with this overall design.

Branding Your Business: Establish Your Business Identity The Right Way

Smart Phone App

From what I’ve seen of the FreedomVoice app, it’s not overly complicated or fancy, but it does make it very easy to make calls from your business number, so you can conceal your personal cell phone digits from the people you’re calling.

At no additional charge, you can have full control over your office phone system, all from the convenience of your smartphone.

You can also check your voicemails and fax messages from the mobile app as well, which makes it even easier to stay in contact with people who are trying to get a hold of you.

The app can really enhance the overall experience and provide a lot of flexibility (so you’re not tied to a computer every time you use your number).

The Cost of a “Free” Phone System

I’ve talked to several folks who have tried to rely entirely on a free phone service like Google Voice.

I’m not saying this can’t work, but in my business, a free service like this just isn’t a viable, long-term option. With the level of control I have with a paid service (with things like toll-free numbers, answering rules, forwarding rules, voicemail options and faxing capabilities, just to name a few), the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Even though a free phone solution won’t drain your bank account, it will cost you in its overall lack of convenience. While it may not consume your money, it will consume more of your time and mental energy. It might even result in lost business (the costliest part of all). Is it worth that cost to work with a system that is more cumbersome for you and your customers?

I’m not saying you need to start shelling out money for this right now. If you’re on a shoestring budget, it’s okay to skip this and come back to it later. However, I do think your phone communication is something that needs to work seamlessly without causing you constant headaches and getting in the way of doing business.

If your phone system isn’t easy to work with (and be honest about this), this is something that should be near the top of your priority list. If you need a better system than what you already have in place, do it sooner rather than later.

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About the author

Seth Williams is a land investor with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real-world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  1. Brian says:

    Good rundown of the differences between the more popular phone system apps. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Absolutely, thanks for stopping by Brian!

  2. Michael says:

    Hi There,
    Great Website & Blog !
    Could you please provide copy of phone voice mail script as promised.
    Thank you in advance !
    Mike

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Hi Michael, certainly! All you need to do is sign up for the “REtipster Club” email list (see the opt-in box on the right sidebar). Once you sign up, you’ll get a link to the “Subscriber Toolbox” where you can download this script (just scroll to the bottom of the page once you get there).

      If you have any trouble getting there, just let me know.

      Thanks for your interest!

  3. The Bougie Hobo says:

    Seth,

    Do you use a service like patlive.com or do you handle all prospect yourself directly after you decide it’s worth calling them back?

    1. Seth Williams says:

      I collect almost all of my leads in a automated fashion through my buying website (so there’s no actual live phone time required). It’s a pretty good system and it works well for me!

  4. Jiorphia Damier says:

    Seth,

    When someone calls your toll-free number, do they hear a voicemail recording or do you have a VA answer calls? Exactly how do you use your business numbers? Do you answer incoming calls or send them straight to voicemail and only call the ones who are great leads?

  5. B. Hakim says:

    Hi Seth, my name is Hakim and I’m a new REI. First I want to say that I’ve become a big fan of your blog over the past few months, I actually prefer it a lot over Bigger Pockets. Keep up the amazing work!
    Anyway I did have one question here… do you have a recommended system/software for sending and receiving text blasts to/from multiple numbers? I want to be able to send a text notice to my buyer’s list (no matter how big) all at once, and of course have a means of receiving them in an organized fashion, letting them know to check their emails about the latest deal I sent them… then whoever wants to buy can put in their best bid offer (with my VA) and I can choose the highest bid given by the deadline. Do you know if RingCentral can do that, or if not then any other system??
    Thanks again!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for the comment! I’m so glad to hear my blog has been helpful to you.

      As for the group texting functionality – I haven’t had any direct experience with this service, but I did hear about a company years ago called VoiceShot.com (upon visiting their site, it looks a little outdated). It might be worth investigating them as an option to accomplish what you’re looking to do.

      As for RingCentral’s capabilities… I honestly don’t know what they are in this realm. I’ve never used them for this, but IF they’re capable of doing this kind of thing, my hunch is that it would require a more expensive business plan, which may or may not be worth the extra cost to you. You could always give them a call and investigate further, but that’s the extent of my knowledge.

    2. Hi Seth. I am going to get Ring Central quickly (tomorrow) before my next land mailing. Is there a discount code available, as there was for AgentPro which I found through you? Thanks for all the great information in the REITipster and your YouTube channel, both of which I subscribe to, learn from and enjoy tremendously.
      Looking forward to joining your “Club” as soon as I can, was sorry to miss the Intro “Lifetime Offer” when you opened several months back. I hope you are doing well with that as I expect you will. Please keep me informed if you again offer a 1X Payment option for Lifetime membership. I intend to take advantage if there is a next time.
      Good luck Seth and keep up the good work.

      1. Hey Brian! You bet. If you go through this specific link: https://retipster.com/ringcentral – you should get you a lower-than-normal price on RingCentral. Hopefully we’ll see you in the membership site soon!

  6. Shannon says:

    Seth,
    THANK YOU!
    The email on this article came at JUST THE RIGHT TIME! The past few days, I have been stressing about which phone system to buy & not finding much useful info.

    By any chance, do you know of a way to use a voice blast in combination with a Ringcentral ph#?

    Thanks for your time.

  7. I like how you said to be sure to record a nice greeting for your business phone system. We are getting a brand new company ph9ones this summer. Thanks for the tips on picking a phone system for your business.

    1. You bet Sutton! Thanks for reading.

  8. Slavic says:

    I would say the best phone system is more than just technology, you gotta make sure there is a ton of instant follow up. I’ve made that mistake before and have seen others do it. People invest in the best brand.o real estate packages yet still forget to follow up to leads…

    1. That’s a great point Slavic. Thanks for chiming in!

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