I've been using Grasshopper now for over three years, and it helps me as an entrepreneur in a ton of different ways. With three or four various businesses to answer calls for, Grasshopper helps me stay organized and professional, plus there is room to grow with extensions for more employees. On a day-to-day basis, it's just so handy to identify and separate business calls from personal calls. When you're a busy, networking, selling, entrepreneur, there are many different reasons you might receive calls, and Grasshopper gives you a helpful heads up. And because Grasshopper has worked out so well for me, I've partnered with Grasshopper to let you try out Grasshopper for free! That's right, if you use any of my affiliate links in this post or click on the coupons you will get $75 off instantly. That is enough to cover at least your first couple months!
- Portability / Mobility: Your hard-line clunky office phone is now your sleek mobile smart phone. Just add your original phone number to the system and you can take business calls anywhere—the coffee shop, traveling, skiing, etc.
- Professionalism: Know which business is being called—and how to answer the phone. “Hello, this is Business ABC, how can I help you?”
- Business Hours: By knowing which business is being called, you can also easily decide when that business is actually taking calls. Say you're hanging out with friends and your business gets a call at 7pm—send it to voicemail. But say it's your wheelin' and dealin' Craigslist extension—pick it up!
- Credibility: A toll free 1-800 number can make your business look a lot bigger than it might really be, which instills confidence in the business and encourages customers to dial in from across different area codes.
- Extensions (Unlimited): Each department and/or employee can have their very own extension. So if you have a smooth-talking salesman in New York City, an assembly line in Texas, and a tech guy in California, any customer (or someone within the business, too) can easily get a hold of them through the same business phone number.
- Mobile App: As I said above, this all runs through your smart phone, and the Grasshopper App is pretty slick. The interface is clean and easy to navigate, you can sign PDF documents with your finger, and it's available for both iPhone and Android.
In addition to these main reasons that I find Grasshopper helpful, let's talk about some other perks.
As telephones generally do, Grasshopper allows you to also call out from your business number. Your customers will see that someone from your 1-800-BIG-BUSINESS is calling them, not just a random local number. Alternatively, if you do want more of a local-ness, Grasshopper also offers local numbers that you can use from anywhere across the country.
It's easy to make your own custom greeting in which you give your customers the extension number options, or you can pay a little extra to have a Grasshopper “professional voice talent” record your greeting. You can also easily program holding music for your customers while they wait between transfers.
A fellow entrepreneur friend of mine has noticed that the time it takes for the customer to reach an actual person on your end can take a little longer than usual. The customer must first listen to your greeting and choose the proper extension, then Grasshopper calls that extension and that employee must answer and accept the call. Even if you choose to eliminate any extensions and have the original number go directly to a single phone, it can still take a while. This is one downfall of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology, in which phone calls are routed through the internet. However, in my three years using , I have never had any customers complain about the short wait. The above mentioned entrepreneur was dealing with a local convenience/delivery service where timing was very important, and he ultimately went with a single local number anyway.
Voicemails are kept in the Grasshopper system and accesible online or in the Grasshopper phone App—not in your phone's normal messaging storage—and you can set it to transcribe and email them. If the computerized transcriptions are way off or you just want to read your exact message word for word, “You can even choose to have your voicemails transcribed by a human on-demand.” Transcription services do cost extra, but you can do a free trial to see how you like it.
A vanity number is like a vanity license plate—you spell something out with your digits. 1-800-GOT-JUNK is a good example, and, unrelatedly, I was fortunate enough to do a podcast with the company's founder. Thing is, a lot of the prime numbers are already taken, so you may have to get a little creative. There are more than just 1-800 numbers to choose from—there's also 855, 866, 877, 888, and most recently, 844. Since 844 is the newest prefix, you might get lucky and be able to use the number/phrase that you really want.
There are several alternative VOIP services out there, like RingCentral.com, Phone.com, or VOIP.com—which TE has previously reviewed—but Grasshopper is what I've always used and been very happy with. It's simple and straightforward, keeps me and my businesses organized and professional, and offers several pricing plans that can grow right along with your business.