I'm currently in the process of launching a product to help real estate appraisers manage their work flow and needed a phone system. While email and collaboration tools have really taken over much of communication, people still like to have a human-level conversation. In addition, clients and prospects gain more confidence when they can reach somebody in the company if they have a question or need to go into detail.
I Can't Hear You
It became quite obvious that I needed a quality phone system (as do all businesses) so clients could easily touch base. In the age of iPhones, Androids and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), installing a complex PBX (a.ka. Business Telephone System) is a little overwhelming, if not overkill. Plus, many of us in the real estate industry, especially appraisers, are on the road a lot of the time. Having an expensive physical phone system that keeps you glued to the desk makes little sense.
Don't hang-up just yet
Talk To Me
Thankfully, the solution came in a non-hardware cloud of locusts. Grasshopper is a Cloud-Based business phone system. What this means is you can pick a phone number, set up a business menu (i.e., press 3 to order an appraisal) and have it go to voice mail or forwarded to the phones of your choice, including your cell phone. Grasshopper will even send you an email each time you get a voice mail. This is pretty useful in so many situations including for those who work out of a home office or have remote colleagues.
At the time of writing, pricing is as low as $12 per month + 6¢ per minute for a local or 1-888, 1-877, or 1-855 number. If you want to pull out all the stops, Grasshopper includes an optional 1-800 number ($40 one time setup). Since I use a VoIP number (Skype) for unlimited business calls, a cheap mobile phone plan and a Grasshopper 1-800 number, my typical monthly voice communication bill runs around $35 per month. That price includes three phone numbers and a professional business phone system. Not bad at all considering people are paying $90+ per month for their limited iPhones plans alone.