I just signed up an Answering Service ... what I learned - Posted by messerb (Atlanta)

Posted by Bassman on March 12, 2000 at 24:40:42:

My opinion is that a seller would prefer to talk to a live voice when they call. If they get a voice mail , they would tend to just skip to the next ad. Is that worth saving $50 a month , to lose a $10k profit ???
A voice mail system would be good on a buyers end, send them to different mailboxes to prescreen them. Maybe describe the house your selling, take an application, or such, but not for a seller. They are to important to leave to chance.
But , that’s only my opinion.
Hope that helps.
Scott Cooper

I just signed up an Answering Service … what I learned - Posted by messerb (Atlanta)

Posted by messerb (Atlanta) on March 10, 2000 at 18:05:02:

I posted a message earlier this week looking for help on what to look for when selecting an answering service. Since I did not get any responses to the post, I thought I would share what I learned in case others could use the info.


  • We were running a “we buy houses” ad and about half the calls were hang-ups. We’re going the answering service route to boost up the number of sellers we get to talk to.
  • We prepared a script with about 10 questions that we want the callers to respond to.
  • We wanted the responses faxed to us after each call.


  1. Not all answering service firms can handle scripts with more than 2 or 3 questions. I recommend getting quotes from 3 - 4 firms before selecting one.
  2. Try to get a company that is local to your city so that their agents are familiar with your area. The one we picked has asked sellers to spell the city name for parts of town that anyone local would/should know. Most people would prefer to deal with someone local.
  3. Some firms require a contract. Don’t use one that does.
  4. Don’t use one of their telephone numbers. Keep your own telephone number and forward your calls to them. If you aren’t happy with their service, you can always forward your calls to another answering service company without having change the telephone number in any of your marketing materials.

PRICING … For the firms that I called, the fees had the following components:

  1. Monthly base rate, usually based on an hour or more of operator time with the sellers
  2. Per minute rate if calls exceed the monthly base time
  3. One-time set up fee to program your script into their database
  4. Optional add-on service of having the responses faxed to you immediately after the sellers call
  5. Optional add-on service if you want to use their telephone number. (Again, I recommend not using this.)

The base rate quotes that I got went up to $114/month for the first 120 minutes. The set up fee went as high as $100. Some wanted an extra $15/month for faxing the responses.

The one that we picked turned up our service in less than 24 hours. They charge $60/month for the first 100 minutes each month, with a $17.95 one-time setup fee. Faxing out the responses was no additional charge.

If anyone is interested in getting more info, email me directly on messerb@mindspring.com. I’m not ready to give an endorsement since we just started using them. But, I’d be happy to tell you what I know so far about them.


For my money - here’s a better alternative - Posted by Bob H

Posted by Bob H on March 10, 2000 at 21:29:58:

For less money you could sign up for a couple of cell phones and answer your calls directly. Cost savings aside, I think you are making a mistake entrusting your potential income to an overworked, and probably hurried receptionist making less than $10/ hr.

You need to understand the mindset of your callers; Calling a “We buy houses” ad is not the “normal” way most people go about selling their property. Most who respond to such ads (at least the ones who are good prospects) are either impulsive, panicked, desperate, or in a perfect world, all of the above.

They want somebody to do something RIGHT NOW. Yours is not the only ad they are calling - they are looking for a real person, to solve their real problem, real quick - not an answering machine, not a voice mail, and not an answering service. If you can’t meet their needs - click - you’re crossed off, and they are on to the next call.

Yeah, I know answering the phone at inconvenient times is a royal pain in the A**. But look at it this way - If I offered you $10,000 next month with the stipulation that you had to make sure and answer the phone every time it rang - do you think you could do it?

The bottom line: Do business on your terms, but on their timetable.

Re: I just signed up an Answering Service … what I learned - Posted by Jack Beam

Posted by Jack Beam on March 10, 2000 at 19:05:00:

Seem’s cheap for all they do.

Re: I just signed up an Answering Service … what I learned - Posted by Cassie

Posted by Cassie on March 10, 2000 at 18:59:00:

Thanks for the info. I live in the Atlanta area and one day will need this information.
If noone else tells you, the information will be of great help to me when it is my turn.

Thanks again

I disagree - Posted by Bassman

Posted by Bassman on March 11, 2000 at 09:49:54:

Although the mindset part is true, what happens at 10pm when someone decides to call( yes i have had them call my service late) ? What happens if your in an important seller meeting, do you disrupt your present seller to talk to the next seller for 20 minutes?, or do you let the next seller go into your vox mail?
What happens when you have two or more sellers trying to call at once( yes , it happens), one will get a busy signal and not call back later ( he calls the other ad next to yours).
Ever get a cell call while your eating a fine dinner, or while your in the restroom, while driving in bad traffic( very dangerous i think),or even while your trying to be intimate with your mate(yep)?
To pay a service $50-100 per month to simply help prescreen, catch all the calls, and the hangups, and the tirekickers, and the idiots who want you to fix their house up but dont want to sell you their house( different story), but only want to waste your precious time, is well worth it.
My service pages me within 5 minutes of the call, and I can call the seller right back, sorta like " Mr bassman has stepped out for a second, can I i have him call back in two minutes?" They also have caller ID so I can call them back from where they are if they didnt leave a message.
I can go on forever, but i hope you get the point.
Many of the Big time operations use answering services because it helps screen out the useless junk , whilke freeing up their important resources for better usage.It is not just a convenience, it is a resource.
I wouldnt want to interupt an important money man, or seller who is wanting to give me a house to take a call from a bozo who wants to babble for 30 minutes with no intention of selling me their house.
hope this helps.
Scott Cooper

Re: For my money - here’s a better alternative - Posted by messerb (Atlanta)

Posted by messerb (Atlanta) on March 11, 2000 at 07:39:20:


You make a good point about the mindset of the callers.

I struggle here because I have two needs that I want to fulfill simultaneously: 1) Get as many motivated sellers as possible in the hopper; and 2) Have an infrastructure in place that does not make us a slave to our own business.

I can see how having a separate cell phone and answering the calls directly is better than using an answering service (which is, in turn, better than using voice mail). Perhaps, the ideal scenario for our needs is to have an employee answer the phones that works for us, is trained by us, and whose compensation is directly tied to how many deals we do as result of how they handle the initial phone calls.

Hmmm … We may need to work our way up to the employee. But, we will definitely be giving more thought to the cell phone idea. Thanks for your input!!


Good Post!!! - Posted by Tony James

Posted by Tony James on March 11, 2000 at 07:35:59:


Re: I disagree - Posted by Phillip

Posted by Phillip on March 11, 2000 at 23:38:45:

What is your opinion of voice mailbox services to handle “we buy houses” type ADS. I am not available during the day to answer cell phone calls but had considered the voice mail box as an inexpensive alternative to higher price live answering services; we are just starting out.

Thanks for your response!