Despite the appearance of low-cost recorded answering devices, Wood Profits there is still a thriving demand for answering services featuring 8 live persons on the other end of the line. If you have ever called someone who used a recording device for an answering service you probably know why. People just cannot carry on a satisfactory conversation with a machine. For doctors in particular the recorded message answering service was never an acceptable substitute. But now most small, one-person businesses that rely on telephone calls from potential customers realize the value of having a person answer the phone who can respond immediately to the caller's particular needs.

Basically the way an answering service works is quite simple. It is an extension of your client's telephone with the number ringing on your switchboard at the same time it rings on his telephone. After three or more rings the answering service picks up and says, for instance, "Dr. Thompson's office," and the person is answered just as if he had actually reached Dr. Thompson's office. The service takes a message and either gets in touch with the client immediately or reports with a series of messages at one time. For doctors this service is quite indispensable. For other professionals and small businesses the answering service acts as their office switchboard.

This is the kind of business you can run from one room in your home. For a fee, the telephone company simply runs lines into a switchboard they install for this purpose. In some states the telephone company requires you to have a minimum number of customers before they will set up this equipment. You will have to lay out an advance sum of money when the equipment is installed, just as you did when you were having new telephones installed in your house. You should check your telephone company's business office for specific rates.

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