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Should My Business Get a Toll-Free Number?

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  • Toll-free numbers are a great way to help your customers reach you from a long distance. This saves the client money and can improve your sales.
  • From vanity numbers to numbers with patterns that are easy to remember, your toll-free number for your business can be a great way to market to potential clients. They can even turn into the name of your business.
  • Getting a toll-free number involves finding a service provider. Some of these providers have specializations that can help you with your business, like texting to toll-free numbers and even analytics for your calls.

In real estate, they say it's all about location. The same is true for determining whether you need a toll-free number.

If your customer base is relatively local, then the cost of a toll-free number (those starting with the prefixes 800, 866, 877 and 888) may not be justified. On the other hand, if you've got a national customer base or have an e-commerce website, you may want to consider getting one.

"If you're getting a lot of orders over the phone, a toll-free number is probably necessary," said Luanne Mayorga, manager of the Illinois International Trade Center at the College of DuPage in Lisle, Illinois, who adds that offering live chat on your website will cut down on the number of calls to your toll-free line.

A toll-free number is a telephone number that your customer can call without incurring long-distance fees for landlines. Toll-free numbers are especially popular for customer service hotlines. These allow more people to reach a business versus a toll number.

There are a variety of area codes that toll-free numbers can use. These include 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 and 833.

Your toll-free number can also be a vanity number as it is in the case of 1-800-GOT JUNK, 1-800-FLOWERS or other companies that use clever number combinations to create phone numbers their customers won't easily forget.

These "vanity" numbers are available at the same price as a regular toll-free number. You can search to see if the one you want is available on your local or long-distance phone carrier's website.

The cost of a toll-free number depends on your calling plan. A good estimate is $10 to $15 a month for a toll-free number. Calls to the number will cost you between 6 and 30 cents a minute depending on your plan.

If you aren't sure you want to pay the extra cost of a toll-free number, you'll take comfort in knowing that plenty of business experts think toll-free numbers are increasingly unnecessary.

"We don't think toll-free numbers are as important as they used to be, because the internet and cell phones have driven down the cost of making a long-distance call," said Fred Manuel, general partner at Alliance Cost Containment in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Even if you have a toll-free number, cell phone users will still have to pay their regular rate to call it.

Companies that offer services should always have a toll-free number, Manuel told BusinessNewsDaily. "If you're trying to talk a customer through a problem that is going to take a half an hour, you want to give them a way to make that call for free," he said.

To get a toll-free 800 number, you must find a toll-free service provider. There exists a variety of business phone service providers. As previously mentioned, there are costs for having a toll-free 800 number. To obtain a number, you must be able to include those fees in your budget.

In order to choose a toll-free number for your business, you must check to see what is available. You can use Somos to find out what numbers are currently open to use.

There are many different factors to consider when choosing a toll-free number. From vanity numbers that can be especially easy to remember to numbers that match your local business number, you want to choose a number that makes sense for your business. These numbers, as mentioned before, can serve as a great marketing tool that is sure to help your customers not only remember your number but can be used in jingles, commercials and even as the name of your business.

Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.