How to get a business phone number for your cleaning business

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by Tom Watson on November 2, 2012

Getting a business phone number for your cleaning business is kind of exciting. It means you are ready to get the whole adventure started.

At least that was how I felt when first starting out. I couldn’t wait to get my own number and hear that first call come in. I was pumped!

Anyway… there are a few different ways to go about the process, and each has some pros and cons associated with it. With that said, you’ll have to ultimately decide which is best for your given situation.

I’ll make the assumption that most of you will be starting from home, but with that said, this info is worth reading even if you plan on getting a small office somewhere.

The main choices for getting a business phone line are…

  1. Using your own home number.
  2. Getting a second home phone number.
  3. Getting a dedicated business line installed.
  4. Dedicated cell phone.
  5. Online service provider.

Option 1 is the one I would try to avoid if at all possible. The cost may be free in a sense, but the downsides are many. For starters, one of the hurdles newcomers to the cleaning business must tackle is appearing professional. This is hard to do when one phone serves two masters.

Another factor to consider is that if you do have any type of success and need to move to an office setting, moving that line becomes costly. This is because you’ll need to keep the original line THEN transfer all calls to the new number.

This means you have the cost of the getting a new line installed PLUS the cost to transfer all calls from the other number. Then you’ll be left with the problem of not having a home phone! As you can see this approach is a bit messy, and for that reason it’s not recommended.

Option 2 involves getting a second line in your home. The pros to this method is that the monthly cost will probably be rather inexpensive. The downside is that the cost of getting the line installed could run a few hundred bucks.

And again, just like in option 1, moving this line to an office means keeping the original line, transferring all calls plus having a new line installed. This option may work for some, but it didn’t for me. I know firsthand because this is what I did when starting out.

I doubled my mistake by also having a fax line installed. So this meant when I upgraded to an office I had to keep BOTH LINES, transfer the calls PLUS get new lines installed. This is a price I pay to this day because I didn’t want to give up the main phone number that so many people became familiar with.

Option 3 is a bit more expensive than the first two. This is because you’ll not only have the normal installation costs of a new line, you will also have to pay a higher monthly price in all likelihood for a dedicated business line.

I know… that’s not fair, but in general businesses pay much more than residential customers. Then on top of that business customers usually get rooked into making a one year (or more) commitment to that dedicated business line.

A few years back I took my residential lines that I was using as business lines and turned them into “real” business lines. I’m sure I had a good reason when I did it, though I can’t seem to remember it now! All I know is that I PAY WAY TOO MUCH for phone service.

Option 4 is a low-cost option in most respects. You don’t have a large initial investment and your monthly price is something that most can afford. A possible downside may be the amount of minutes you are able to use for a given billing period plus the fact that this option is not scalable in the traditional sense.

When I first started my cleaning business cell phone coverage wasn’t as good as it is today. Far too many areas had very “spotty” reception. Needless to say I didn’t want to drop calls in the middle of a conversation with a potential client. I also was concerned with it not being scalable (not a true solution if my company grew as I expected it to), and that’s why I didn’t choose this option.

Option 5 involves an online provider such as RingCentral. With this type arrangement you get a your own unique local toll-free or 800 phone number plus a full featured “cloud based” phone system that allows you to use an existing phone (such as your cell phone) as your business line.

Depending on the plan, you’ll get great features like auto-attendant, voicemail, internet fax service, advanced call forwarding, dial by name directory plus countless more options.

Plans start at about 10 bucks per month for a basic set-up to 40 bucks for a complete office environment (other features are available for an additional fee). This is a great approach if you are looking for an ultra professional appearance from day one. I also like that they offer a free trial.

Whats nice about this approach is that if you ever upgrade to an office, you’ll have no fees tied up in forwarding calls or in having traditional land lines installed PLUS no long-term contracts to worry about (all the stuff I had to worry about).

It’s kind of funny that years go I almost signed up with them, but sadly I stuck it out with my current set-up. The Internet was more Wild West back then and I was worried about getting in bed with a company that may not be around in a few years.

My worries about longevity turned out to be incorrect as RingCentral was named a 2010 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. According to this group “RingCentral has radically changed the cost structure for business phone systems from tens of thousands of dollars to as low as US$ 10 a month”.

Needless to say I’m a big fan of any company that radically changes prices FOR THE BETTER. Anyway… my goal for you in writing this post is to think through your choice of phone provider because your choice STAYS with you for the life of your company in many respects.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our RSS feed. If you are looking for a blueprint that will show you how to start a cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Start Up Guides. If you are badly in need of a first class website then take a look at my Cleaning Business Websites.

DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase any items through my links odds are I’ll earn a commission of some kind. I only recommend products and services that I have used or think may be useful to those starting or operating a cleaning business.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon Pye November 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I am so happy you shared this!! I am trying it out. I have been really worried that someone is going to call my house number and my Daughter will answer the phone and that will not be professional at all.

2 Tom Watson November 2, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I agree… coming across as professional on your business phone is a HUGE DEAL.

3 Leslie Ann November 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Very informative! Thank you

4 Tom Watson November 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Thanks again Leslie! I appreciate you stopping in!

5 Adam Lahouidek November 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Thanks for the information

6 Tom Watson November 12, 2012 at 2:58 pm

No problem Adam!

7 Conteh McGee December 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Great info!! Btw, where’s a good place to buy kraft bags?

8 Tom Watson December 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hi Conteh! Great to hear from you! When I bought them I was lucky, as a local janitorial / restaurant supplier carried them. I would search online to see what you can find. If I see anything, I’ll shoot you the info.

9 Conteh McGee December 14, 2012 at 5:39 am

Ok thanks!

10 Kathie Emhof December 24, 2012 at 11:36 am

I’ve used RingCentral for over 3 years with my business. Never a glitch, and I get notifications of calls on my cell, ipad, and computer. I also have the ability to have my business number forward calls to my home phone and/or cell phone, to take calls instantly!
Love it!
Kathleen Emhof
Owner and Lead Designer | Transitions Home Staging & Redesign

11 Tom Watson December 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Hi Kathie! It’s so amazing what can be done. It’s the perfect fit for many of us. Thanks for commenting.

12 Carol January 16, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Hello Tom, Presently I am working with a janitorial company that does commercial cleaning only and I am seeing some of the flaws she is making. I believe that I can improve these with opening my own company, but I have a great fear of doing that. I do not want to expense myself and be stock with cleaning items on hand if I am not successful, I know it takes time to grow but I have bills to pay. Please tell me how to overcome this fear and what I should be my first step?

13 Tom Watson January 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Hi Carol! If money is REAL TIGHT, then just don’t pull the trigger just yet. Do all your homework FIRST about what needs to get done (that doesn’t cost much). This way you lay the foundation going forward PLUS it does not kill the dream. Investigate the cost of insurance, a phone line of some kind and look into registering the business. Getting your ducks in a row cost NOTHING but your time.

As to having a lot of stock…YOU WON’T. When you are new, what do you need? NOTHING until you land a customer. When you get one THEN you buy your cleaning supplies and stuff like that, NOT BEFORE. That is where most people go wrong, they buy all this stuff they don’t need and run out of money BEFORE getting an account.

When you do start, any money spent is only on marketing material that spreads the word you own a business, THAT’S IT! That’s why my approach, and the one I share in my courses is so powerful. They teach you how to do it on a shoestring, starting slow so you get some experience under your belt without breaking the bank.

14 Carol January 17, 2013 at 1:37 am

Thank you sooo much, I will be contacting you along my journey. zthanks again.

15 Tom Watson January 17, 2013 at 7:07 am

Your very welcome!

16 Greg March 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Everything I’m reading from everyone who started there cleaning business or wants to start one is what I am going through right now. I started my business with so much enthusiasm a year ago and I went to business and introduced my company I even pay a company to make me a web site but right now its like I am stuck in a hole.right now I’m calling companies to buy leadsjust so I can start making some money is there a better way for me to go after getting work

17 Tom Watson March 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

Hi Greg! Getting business centers on a few key things (there are others, but this is what matters to you right now)….

1 – Looking like the real deal (this means your appearance / marketing materials)

2 – How you create SEPERATION between YOU and your COMPETITION (why should someone choose your company versus another company).

Number 1 is rather easy. Get dressed up a bit and have some nice business cards and flyers.

Number 2 is a little tougher (for most anyway, and this is why they don’t get THE CHANCE to get accounts). You need to give people the REASONS why you are the better choice.

You need to talk about how you will SOLVE their problems (owner on site, highly trained staff, regular inspections, the best quality control are just a few)

Then you could combine that approach with offering a big discount incentive for new accounts (50% off first month) . This will just give even MORE weight to you and your company.

As an example… most companies have insurance (it’s required!), but to create SEPERATION I went out and got a MILLION dollar policy for my company (a few hundred extra bucks a year BUT IT MAKES ME STAND OUT as I promote that fact!).

Stay tuned to the blog as I’ll be covering this topic soon!

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