- A business phone number provides a direct line to your company. It can also include features like an interactive voice response (IVR) tree, which helps callers direct themselves.
- Business phone systems are as much branding tools as they are communications systems. They demonstrate legitimacy to clients and partners.
- To get a business phone number for your company, follow the steps in the guide below.
- This article is for small business owners who want to get a business phone number for their company.
A business phone number provides more than a direct line to your company. It also demonstrates your local, national and international presence. Even if the vast majority of your customers are unlikely to call, the simple existence of a phone number presents a level of credibility that customers desire. You can easily accomplish this with local phone numbers, toll-free (1-800) numbers, and easy-to-remember vanity numbers. Some of these options are available free of charge, while even the more expensive options are typically priced below $50 per month. Obtaining a phone number for your business doesn’t have to be difficult – just follow the steps below.
How do you get a business phone number?
If you have a business address, it’s easy to get a local number that’s assigned with the area code associated with your address. A quick call to your local phone company is one way to implement a single landline, and you may be able to receive a bundled discount on your broadband internet plan. If you already have a U.S.-based mobile or landline phone number, you can sign up for a local number with Google Voice.
Editor’s note: Looking for the right business phone system? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
A more popular option is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or a virtual phone number. Most of the available cloud-based business phone systems provide the option of local, toll-free, and personalized or vanity phone numbers, along with a vast suite of advanced features for communication and productivity. With VoIP, adding new numbers is easy through the phone system apps.
VoIP services are easy to subscribe to – the trick is finding the best. To make the decision easier, visit our business phone systems best picks page.
Why you need a business phone number
First and foremost, your company should always provide a way for customers, clients and vendors to reach personnel by phone during regular business hours. For your new business, you may want to separate your personal calls from your business calls. This separation gives you a better work-life balance, and keeps your professionalism with clients, vendors and accounts.
A business phone system provides a long list of advanced calling features – such as custom greetings, call forwarding and auto attendants to ensure your callers get the information they need in the most efficient and courteous way possible. Many of these phone systems offer native integrations with popular productivity tools and top customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps make the most of every customer interaction.
Types of business phone numbers
There are generally three types of phone numbers from which to choose for your company. In many cases, your business may require a local number, toll-free number and vanity phone number. Regardless of the type of phone number you acquire, the cost associated is relatively low.
|Type of phone number||Description||Price estimate|
|Local numbers||Phone numbers with a local, three-digit area code associated with a specific geographic region||$0-$10 per month|
|Toll-free numbers||Phone numbers that start with 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 and 833; can be dialed from anywhere without a long-distance fee||$0-$10 per month|
|Vanity phone numbers||Personalized phone numbers that utilize the lettering system on a dialing keypad||$10-$50 (sometimes more) per month|
Local phone numbers
Local phone numbers that begin with a three-digit area code are an excellent way for your business to establish a local presence in the community. While area codes can be spoofed these days, people who see a familiar area code on their caller ID are still more likely to answer an unknown phone number. For inbound calling purposes, local numbers provide a way for customers to contact a business without worrying about long-distance charges.
A local business phone number is typically included for free with phone service plans, and extra lines are easy to add for a small fee. If your company does not have a physical footprint in a specific geographic region, consider a local phone number through VoIP and virtual phone systems. These are some advantages to securing a local number:
- It establishes a presence in the community.
- Costs are zero in many cases.
- It’s easy to obtain with landlines and VoIP.
Here are some downsides to keeping it local:
- Patrons are less likely to answer unfamiliar area codes.
- Inbound callers may have to pay long-distance charges.
- Customers may perceive your business as inadequate.
Toll-free numbers are phone numbers that start with one of the following three-digit sequences: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 and 833. A phone number using a toll-free prefix can be dialed from any landline free of charge to the individual placing the call. For customers outside of the local area, toll-free numbers allow them to call without worrying about potential long-distance phone charges. However, mobile phone callers without unlimited calling plans will still pay for call time when using a toll-free number. These are some of the benefits of going toll-free:
- Customers can reach you anywhere for free.
- You can easily obtain one.
- You establish credibility as an organization.
Here are some disadvantages of a toll-free number:
- Inbound international callers may have to pay additional fees.
- Users have potentially limited talk minutes through your service provider.
- You may receive a high number of unsolicited calls.
Vanity phone numbers
Vanity phone numbers allow you to utilize the standard three or four letters that can be used in place of phone numbers to help patrons remember your number. Some businesses have gone as far as building their entire brand name around toll-free numbers, such as 1-800-Flowers.
For businesses with seven letters like Best Buy, the memorability of a toll-free number like 1-888-Best-Buy makes the decision to use a vanity number easy. Unfortunately, many of the personalized options for seven-letter words have already been claimed. However, if you were able to find a unique domain for your business, chances are that you’ll be able to secure a matching vanity phone number. These are some benefits of a vanity number:
- It’s easy to remember.
- It’s an effective branding tool.
- It boosts your credibility.
Here are some disadvantages of a vanity line:
- Many good ones are already taken.
- It’s the most expensive option.
- It’s risky for international callers.
How to choose the best phone number for your business
You don’t necessarily have to settle for only one option between local, toll-free, and vanity numbers when choosing a phone number for your business. Before you decide which type of number works best for your company, it’s a good idea to choose a VoIP or landline. Consider your existing equipment, internet reliability, the potential to scale and the monthly cost. Follow these steps to obtaining a business number:
- Decide if you’re going to implement a landline or unified VoIP phone system.
- Find the best phone system based on the available features and cost for the number of lines you plan to use.
- If you’re operating a brick-and-mortar store, start with a local number to build your presence and reputation in the community.
- Add a toll-free number to your list of available contacts once you’re ready for a national presence with a decent volume of inbound calls.
- Add a vanity phone number (if you can secure one) that works well with your company’s name, and you plan to use it for marketing purposes.
Still not sure how to choose a business phone system? Read our guide for a detailed breakdown of what to look for and how to know what’s best for your business.
Business phone number FAQs
How do you acquire a free business phone number?
Google Voice is one of the easiest ways to obtain a completely free phone number that can be used for calls, text messages and voicemail through your personal cell phone or computer. This option does require you to have an existing phone number – meaning it cannot be used as your sole service provider.
Another route is a toll-free number that will be assigned based on rules established by the Federal Trade Commission – or FCC. All toll-free phone number subscribers must choose from what’s called “Responsible Organizations” or “RespOrgs,” to reserve a number and manage the appropriate records. RespOrgs have access to the toll-free database used to manage more than 42 million toll-free numbers.
When do you need a virtual business phone number?
Virtual phone numbers are ideal if you want to be accessible by phone anywhere, anytime, while maintaining your personal number’s privacy. Consider starting out with a virtual phone number if your business does not have a permanent address. Many service providers – including Grasshopper and Google Voice – offer plans with virtual numbers and valuable features starting at around $10 per month.
Will a vanity number help my business?
Vanity phone numbers can be a nice addition to branding and marketing efforts across voice, print and digital advertising. The potential impact of a vanity number is dependent on identifying seven available letters that match your brand name, service category or provide a basic call to action, such as 1-800-Go-FedEx.
According to the phone and communications company Grasshopper, as many as 90% of Americans have contacted a company using a toll-free number after viewing an advertisement – and up to 84% of those people were able to remember the letters used in the vanity phone number.