Personal chefs, like many small (i.e. solo) businesses, need to be responsive to calls coming in from customers and prospects. Some of my fellow PCs use their personal cell phone numbers for their business to be sure they’re always reachable, while others have dedicated business lines, usually a landline. I never wanted to have to answer my personal cell phone with a professional-sounding greeting, nor did I want to answer a potential client’s call with a muffled “‘Lo?” with a mouthful of lunch or while standing in the checkout line at Target, so I never used my mobile. For years I used my landline at home for business calls. Even though I was on Do Not Call registries the sales calls, surveys and local fundraising calls were so numerous that I got used to not answering it, but rather waiting for a message that I could respond to later if I chose. But over the years I became a little too lax in how frequently I checked the messages. (I partly blame the shift away from a physical answering machine with a blinking light whose button I could push to a hear a message, to an invisible voicemail whose number and password I had to recall…but I digress). I got lazy about it, and my response timeliness was not what it should be. So I was looking for an alternative.
Early this year I came upon a solution that works really well for me and I highly recommend: a smartphone app called Line2. For $100 a year, I was able to port the same phone number I’ve been using since I started my business over to Line2, which rings on my cell phone whenever I get a call. It uses Wifi when available (excellent call quality) and 3G/4G/LTE when it’s not. By leaving the app open on my phone (it eats up very little battery juice), whenever someone calls me the app pops up a notification that lets me answer the call or send it to voicemail. Importantly for me, it is apparent that the call is to my business line – it’s not the same as call forwarding where you forward a business number to your personal cell phone, so you can’t tell when it rings there that it’s a business call. By adding my contacts to the Line2 app, I can see if it’s a client calling. I usually let the call go to voice mail if I don’t recognize the number, and then I can immediately listen to the message to see if it’s someone I want to call back. If it’s a spam call, I can block it from ever calling me again. And I can get an email with a link to the message if I choose, which I like as a backup reminder to check the message later if I’m too busy to do it when the call comes in. (See my initial problem with timeliness-of-message-checking, above.)
There may be other services like it, but Line2 suits my needs perfectly and has excellent customer service to boot. They answered my questions beforehand (including definite confirmation that my number could be ported), walked me through setup, conducted test calls with me, and let me do a free 7-day trial to ensure it worked the way I hoped. Check them out if you’re in the market!