About two years ago, I left my former office and relocated to another - leaving my phone number. Now, I realize that some agents advertise their cell phone on EVERYTHING but I don't. I have only one phone and it was getting overwhelming to have calls coming in all hours of the day and night from buyers, sellers, banks, personal calls, etc. There was no way to separate the personal from the professional. So I leveraged my office's phone system which worked well until I moved!
At the same time, I no longer wanted to be the point man for every call that came into our phone number. I wanted to find a way to get buyers to talk to the the buyer agents and sellers to talk with me and agents with files in progress to connect with my closer.
First solution: buy a used telephone system on ebay. I love used and ebay so this spoke to me. However, running wires, handsets, and we already had cell phones....this didn't look like an attractive option at all.
Second solution: buy a cell phone for the buyer agents exchange among themselves. Ok, not a bad plan but the user experience from the caller could be poor. "I was calling for Deanna...oh, this is Amanda, what happened to Deanna?." It's not the best nor most professional.
Third solution: Google voice. Great for a solo agent but not really what I wanted as a team. Great for a hotline phone but it didn't have individual mailboxes, efax, etc that could prove valuable. Plus, what if Google decided to start charging or drop the service altogether: back to square one.
I lucked onto RingCentral. Sure, there were commercials for GotVmail (I think they're called Grasshopper now) but RingCentral offered me a free trial..and if it's free, it's for me! RingCentral is a cloud-based phone system so there's no hardware needed, everything is managed online and it can scaled for as small or as large as I needed.
Some of the features I like about RingCentral:
- Unlimited number of extensions. I have an extension, each agent has their own extension, and I even have one for my office and attorney. For lines other than mine and one other, call transfers automatically out of the system to their cell phone or landline. Therefore, if they don't want to maintain a mailbox with me, no big deal!
- Local phone numbers. The only phone number on my card, aside from fax, is our RingCentral number. It's local to Charlotte (not like that matters too much any longer) but I also have an 877 number for long distance. With my calling plan, the toll-free numbers are not additional to dial, so I don't mind advertising that either
- eFax. The eFax through RC is awesome. A small desktop application allows you to upload a PDF document, type a message for the cover page and its off! If you can send an email, they also have a feature that allows you to fax from any email prompt...very slick!
- Call Queue. As I have multiple buyer agents, I use the call queue to route calls to each one automatically. It functions in a round-robin manner. When you call into our line, the first prompt says "to speak with an agent about a home you see for sale, press 1" and when a caller does, it rings the appropriate agents phone for them to pick up. Callers get to the right people every time.