How to Start a Telephone Answering Service
Key Information Provided as a Service to the Industry
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
When I consulted for the answering service and call center industries, people kept contacting me who wanted to start a telephone answering service. I didn’t feel right taking their money and tried to talk them out of it.
After all, who wants to go into a business that is labor-intensive, capital-intensive, and never closes? (Though running an answering service is no longer as capital-intensive, it certainly was back then.) And the few people who insisted on hiring me, soon gave up.
Yet the inquiry calls continued to roll in, taking up too much of my time and providing no business in return. In desperation, I set up a website, and referred people to it. That little site gave all the essential information and appeased most people.
When I stopped consulting to focus on publishing, I left the website up as a service to the industry. I even added occasional updates. With no promotion, it continued to get traffic, month after month, year after year.
Though it had always been my intention to turn that website into a book, I never got around to it.
On January 29, 2019, I released my first call center book, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service. It even has a book trailer. On that day, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, became the number one new book on Amazon in the outsourcing category.
For those of you in the answering service industry, you already know everything that’s in this book. But if you’re new to the industry or thinking about getting into it, this book contains valuable information. I think it’s the best information you’ll ever find on the subject, but then I’m a bit biased.
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One-on-One Meetings Matter More Than You Know
By Kate Zabriskie
Without trying too hard, it’s easy for many managers to compile a list of reasons not to meet with the people they supervise. Guess what? These excuses don’t outweigh the value and importance of a regularly scheduled meeting with a direct report.
Benefits of Regular One-on-One Meetings: If used correctly, over time managers and employees can enjoy many benefits by meeting one on one.
- Visible Appreciation: Time is currency. If managers carve out time for their people and are prepared when they meet, they show they value their direct reports.
- Better Thinking: Regular one-on-one meetings give managers and employees space to step away from the urgent and immediate and to think more holistically and strategically about work, goals, and development opportunities.
- Stronger Results: Accountability tends to improve when people have an opportunity or a requirement to report on their progress.
The Perfect One-on-One: Once a manager has bought into the value of one-on-one meetings, the next step is to execute them in a way that works for the manager and the employee. Good one-on-one meetings are not one-size-fits-all activities. That said, here are a few guidelines to make a one-on-one meeting successful.
- Schedule: Pick a schedule and stick to it. One-on-ones shouldn’t regularly disappear from the calendar simply because something else suddenly comes up.
- Frequency: Choose a frequency that makes sense. For some people meeting once a month may be enough. For others, meeting weekly may be more appropriate. Every relationship is different. Furthermore, circumstances evolve. Depending on what’s happening inside and outside the organization, an employee’s needs could change drastically. Evaluate meeting frequency from time to time. If the rate of meetings is correct, managers and employees should not routinely find themselves with no reason to meet.
- Plan: Follow a written agenda. Well-run one-on-one meetings are not free-for-all conversations. They follow an agenda just as any other good meeting does. A one-on-one meeting agenda might include such topics as current projects, progress on yearly development goals, current challenges, and so forth.
Dealing with Obstacles: One-on-one meetings rarely go from nonexistent or dysfunctional to perfect overnight. For that reason, managers should prepare to overcome a variety of obstacles.
Reevaluate from Time-to-Time: Like anything, one-on-one meetings can get stale. It’s important to look at the format and frequency from time to time and to solicit feedback regarding what’s working and what isn’t.
If you’ve fallen out of the habit of holding regular one-on-one meetings or if you’re not getting all you could from them, now is the time to take another look. After all, can you really afford not to?
Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.
Telephone Answering Service News
Peter Lyle DeHaan Releases TAS Book: Longtime industry veteran Peter Lyle DeHaan released his insider’s guide to starting an answering service on January 29, 2019. Titled How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, the book concisely shares the essential information needed for an entrepreneur to start an answering service. Based on decades of industry experience and years of consulting, Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, released this book as a service to the industry.
“Though I open the book trying to talk people out of starting an answering service, if they decide to proceed, I want them to do it right and not damage the industry by making naïve mistakes,” said DeHaan. “It’s a must read for anyone thinking about getting into the answering service industry.”
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Quotes for the Month
“Patience is also a form of action.” -Auguste Rodin
“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” -Samuel Johnson
“A calendar’s days are numbered.” -unknown