Business phone numbers: The ultimate number guide for entrepreneurs
Business phone numbers are what differentiate hobbyists from professionals. Even without a storefront, an online shop, or a bricks and mortar office; you can start doing business just by having a dedicated line of communication with your customers.
Types of business phone numbers
As a small business starting out, choosing the right type of number will determine how your prospects will perceive your brand, and what level of service you will be able to provide your customers. To help you make the right choice, let’s take a look at the several options available when it comes to choosing phone numbers for business.
Landline services are a common phone solution for households and business. Each landline is assigned a local phone number that starts with a standard two-digit area code (02, 03, 04, 07, and 08).
As a familiar phone service for homes and offices, the simplicity of using a landline number can be an advantage for small businesses that need a phone number, but don’t expect a lot of calls.
Its simplicity can also be a disadvantage for businesses that require more sophisticated call handling features. Because they are tied to a geographic exchange, keeping the same business number when you relocate is highly unlikely. Lastly, a residential number screams amateur and harms your credibility.
Depending on your chosen plan, landline services are typically billed a monthly charge and varying call charges. As a fixed line service, you have to make allowances for the time and cost of installing physical loops in your premises. As your business grows, expect to pay rental for each additional line added to your service.
As the population becomes more reliant on smartphones, mobile phone services has become a more viable option for entrepreneurs. Mobile numbers are nine-digit numbers starting with (4) that come as standard with mobile phone services nationwide.
Like landline services, most of us already have a mobile phone service. But unlike the fixed lines, mobiles offer the flexibility of taking calls in and outside your workplace.
Using your personal mobile number for business makes it harder to unplug at the end of the day and poses a risk to your privacy. Allowing your staff to use their own mobiles can also put you at risk of losing your customers when they leave the business.
Mobile phone calls typically cost more than landline calls. While some mobile carriers offer free minutes, this could be a deterrent for customers who want to call for enquiries or support.
Virtual Phone Numbers
Inbound numbers are widely-recognised business numbers used across Australia. As a virtual number service, you can get business phone numbers without the burden of costly and time-consuming installation.
Calls to these numbers are redirected to any of your existing landline, mobile, or VoIP phone services; allowing you to switch between lines while using a single business number.
Compared to a home or mobile phone service, these small business phone numbers lends you more credibility and establishes your brand as a legitimate business.
A 1300 number, otherwise known as a ‘local call number’, is a business number that allows your customers to call your business from anywhere in Australia, for as low as the cost of a local call. Starting with the prefix 1300, these numbers are followed by six digits.
Having a 1300 number effectively renders your business credibility as a professional business. Because it is a virtual business number, you can keep the same 1300 number for the entire life of your business, even if you decide to move or relocate.
Even with the low cost of calling a 1300 number, some customers may still be deterred by the costs that they may incur, especially if they’re calling for support or an after-sales issue with the product or service they purchased.
1300 Number Cost
The cost of 1300 number calls are shared by the caller and your business. The caller pays a rate determined by their carrier (typically the cost of a local call) regardless of where they are located. Your business pays a low monthly service fee, along with call charges based on the origin of the call.
Also known as ‘free call numbers’, 1800 numbers are business phone numbers that allow your customers to call you for free. These national numbers start with the prefix 1800, and are typically followed by six more digits.
ProsAllowing customers and prospects to call you at no cost to them is a great incentive to drive more enquiries and sales. Like 1300 numbers, an 1800 number offers flexibility in handling calls and presents your brand as an established business.
This type of inbound number can be more costly than a 1300 number. Startups and smaller businesses who may have a very limited budget for their phone services may prefer to share call costs with their customers.
1800 Number Cost
The cost of 1800 number calls is completely shouldered by your business. A free call can be placed from any fixed line in Australia. A majority of mobile carriers are also offering free 1800 number calls for their subscribers. Your business pays a low monthly service fee, along with call charges based on the origin of the call.
Much like local call numbers, a 13 numbers can also be called by your customers at local rates. However, these numbers are relatively shorter than a 1300 or 1800 number. These highly sought after numbers begin with the prefix 13 and are trailed by only four digits.
Because they are shorter, these numbers are relatively easier to recall than a landline, mobile, and even a 1300 or 1800 number. A 13 number is highly recommended for businesses in highly competitive industries as a delivery or support number.
The price of purchasing the rights of use to a good 13 number will depend on its memorability. The easier the pattern is to remember, the higher its price. Generally, larger businesses with more to spend will have access to the best available 13 numbers.
13 Number Cost
The cost of 13 number calls are also shared between the caller and your business. Your customers are billed at a rate determined by their carrier (typically the cost of a local call), while your business pays a monthly service charge with individual call charges. On top of that, 13 numbers come with an annual government surcharge of $7980.
Comprised of phonewords or patterned numbers, Smartnumbers are considered the best available 13, 1300 and 1800 numbers for business. The rights of use for these numbers are available for direct purchase from the Alltel Shop or from ACMA with the help of a number specialist.
Having a patterned number (1300 50 10 50), one that spells out your business name (1300 ALLTEL), or your product/service (1800 WE PLUMB) makes it easier to establish brand recall while advertising your phone numbers.
As premium numbers, the cost of Smartnumbers depends on its memorability. Extremely popular terms can be expensive or unavailable. If the phoneword or pattern you want is already taken, consider getting its 1300 or 1800 counterpart. If all else fails, you can experiment with combining words with numbers (ie. 1800 CAKES4U).
Along with a small registration fee, Smartnumber prices start at $250. Once you have received complete documentation, you will still need to select a provider and sign up for a number plan to have your Smartnumber activated.
Which business phone number is right for you?
In terms of functionality, virtual phone numbers have so much more to offer than landline and mobile numbers. 13, 1300, and 1800 numbers provide the flexibility and scalability that allows your business and your number to grow together. Just keep your current and future needs in mind, and you’ll be able to choose the best number for your business.