Live Answering Services | 877.679.3777 | Try it FREE for 7-Days

Category: resources

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Virtual Receptionist for your Landscaping Business

As spring turns into summer, your landscaping business is heating up. From apartment and business complexes to private homes, the need for your landscaping service is in full bloom, keeping you and your crew busy in the field.

But while you’re out making the world a more beautiful place, who is answering your phone calls? How many calls a day are you missing over the roar of the mowers, trimmers and blowers? Trying to juggle the phone while doing your actual work can be daunting.

If this sounds familiar, then it might be time to consider hiring a professional landscaping virtual receptionist service.

How a Virtual Receptionist Can Grow Your Landscaping Business

No Missed Business. Let’s be honest. If you were looking to hire someone to take care of your landscaping needs, you wouldn’t sit around waiting for a call back from a company, would you? No. You would be more likely to hire the company who answers the phone when you call.

Each and every call you missed can mean potential lost business for your company, from a single family home to a large office complex. Don’t miss out on the calls that could grow your profits when you’re out on the job. A virtual receptionist will answer calls for you, ensuring the caller goes with your company, not your competitors.

Spend More Time Working. How much time are you losing to stop and answer your phone while you’re out working? If you even hear the phone ringing in the first place, you need to stop what you’re doing, turn off your machine so you can hear the caller, and then spend even more time on the phone trying to get their business. Think of all the time you’re losing! When you add up the amount of time spent on the phone in combination with the amount of time lost on a job, it’s pretty significant! Get back that lost time and spend it growing your business, instead. Or take a well-deserved break. The choice is yours!

Appointment Setting. A live answering service does much more than provide the human touch that each and every caller deserves. Through the power of Calendly, VoiceNation’s virtual receptionists can set appointments for you based on your real-time availability.

Calendly is a cloud-based scheduler that is free and easy to use. Instead of callers waiting for a message to be delivered to your phone and then for you to return their call, they will hang up happy knowing that their appointment has been set with your landscaping service.

Professional Customer Service. Can you really put a number on the value of professional customer service? Our world-class operators will provide your customers with the professional engagement and customer service they deserve.

Our virtual receptionists act like the front-line for your customers, and can help de-escalate negative situations, boosting your company’s reputation. When customers have positive experiences, they will tell their friends, write reviews and provide positive feedback on social media.

Since word of mouth marketing drives an estimated 13% of sales, you can’t not afford to provide professional customer service to your callers.

Save Money. Hiring an on-site receptionist can be costly. The average pay for a receptionist starts at around $27k/year. With VoiceNation’s virtual receptionist service, you pay only a fraction of that. You will never be asked to sign a contract and – with 30 days notice – are free to cancel or suspend your landscaping live answering service at any time.

When call volume is lower during off-peak seasons, simply put your service on hold for $2.95/mo. Putting your service on hold will reserve your VoiceNation business number, save your customized scripting, allow you to have continued access to the dashboard, and eliminate the need to go through the onboarding process when you decide to resume your live answering service.

Ready to Grow Your Landscaping Business with a Virtual Receptionist?

We offer a variety of affordable plans for businesses of all sizes. Not ready to buy? Give us a try for free today!

What’s Wrong With My Unit? 5 Common Spring HVAC Issues

What's Wrong with My Unit? 5 Common Spring HVAC Issues

Keeping Your Cool During the Hot Season

As summer approaches, and temperatures are on the rise, many households will be needing to schedule routine maintenance on their HVAC systems. When the phones heat up at your HVAC business, who is taking those calls?

Whether you’re out on a service call, up in someone’s attic, or driving from one call to the next, you can’t always answer your phone. Stop missing out on valuable calls that will lead to more business – and more money – in your pocket!

With VoiceNation’s 24/7 HVAC live answering service, you’ll never miss a call again. Our friendly live operators will make sure each call you receive is answered and properly handled to maximize your efficiency and help grow your business.

What’s Wrong With My Unit? 5 Common Spring HVAC Issues

Dirty Filter

One of the most common HVAC issues that will cause a system to fail, or work less efficiently, is a dirty air filter. The reason that dirty filters cause such issues for HVAC systems is simple – imagine trying to force air through thick, caked on layers of dust versus a clean filter. The build-up of dust, pet dander, smoke and other particulates will make the filter less permeable, causing the HVAC system to have to work harder to force air through it.

Changing the air filter on your HVAC system regularly is a fairly inexpensive way of keeping your HVAC system running efficiently. But deviating from that schedule will often to lead very costly repairs that could have been easily prevented with the proper maintenance.

When do I change my filter?

Your HVAC air filter should be changed on a fairly regular schedule, depending on your situation. Here’s a basic outline of the correct frequency to change the HVAC filter in your home:

  • Every 6-12 months: Single occupant, no pets or allergies

  • Every 90 days: “Average” sized suburban home (2-4 adults, 2-5 children)

  • Every 60 days: “Average” home with one pet (cat or dog)

  • Every 20-45 days: Average home with more than one pet or residents with allergies

Filter Sizes

HVAC filters, like the units they live in, come in a variety of sizes. The most important – and first – step is identifying the correct dimensions of your air filter.

MERV Rating

Once you determine the correct size, it’s important to understand MERV ratings. MERV is an acronym that stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value”, and is the standard rating system used by HVAC professionals. MERV ratings range from 1 – 20, but for a residential system, you should only be concerned with 1 – 16.

In a nutshell, the MERV rating is based on the amount and kind of particulates that a filter can filter out, so being aware of the kind of particulates in your home is an important part of choosing the right filter for your home. The more particulates and allergens that are in your home, the higher the MERV rating on your filter should be.

Tripped Circuit

Sometimes it isn’t the HVAC unit causing issues at all. If your A/C doesn’t work when you turn it on at the start of the warm season, go check your circuit breaker. If the issue is in fact a tripped circuit, simply switch the circuit back on, and you’re good to go! If the issue persists, it might be time to call an electrician.

Dirty Coils

Air conditioning units have coils that do need routine cleaning and maintenance. Most units have an indoor evaporator coil and a condenser coil outside. The outside coil can easily become dirty being exposed to the elements. Little things like grass clippings, twigs and leaves can weasel their way into your outside unit, which can also affect the coils.

If you have dirty coils, it’s time to call an HVAC expert. Don’t try to clean the coils yourself. There are very delicate and intricate systems in play, and even the most basic routine cleaning should be left to the HVAC pros.


Ducts can become clogged with debris due to build-up caused by not changing your air filter regularly. Ducts may also become separated, allowing cool air to escape, and causing your HVAC system to run inefficiently. Go ahead and call the HVAC professional to handle these kids of repairs.

Malfunctioning Thermostat: Most newer thermostats, or smart thermostats, typically don’t have seasonal issues. But if you’re still using an old and outdated thermostat, this could be causing your A/C unit to not run efficiently.

Before calling an HVAC professional to replace your thermostat, double check to make sure it is in the proper mode: either heating or cooling. If you still have your thermostat set to “Heat” from last winter, go ahead and switch it to “Cool”. Problem solved! However, if you are in the correct mode, and your HVAC system is still struggling, it’s definitely time to call an HVAC professional to come replace your old, outdated thermostat, and bring you into modern times.

Curious how an HVAC live answering service can help grow your business?

Check out VoiceNation’s affordable plans for businesses of all sizes today!

Free Trial Confirmation


Welcome to VoiceNation! We look forward to helping you grow your business, one call at a time.

Please check your email for further instructions on how to set up your account to begin sending calls to your new virtual receptionist service. Remember, you can upgrade at any time during your free trial but you only have either 7 days or 30 minutes to give us a try – whichever comes first.

We want you to get the most out of your new live answering service, so please feel free to call us anytime at 866-766-5050 if you have any questions or need further assistance.

7 Ways an Answering Service Can Help Your Medical Office

Medical Answering Service Operator

As a medical professional, your main priority is taking care of your patients, and that???s when they???re both in and out of your office. No matter the size of your practice or office, there are sure to be times when you need a bit of help, which is where a professional medical answering service comes in. Learn seven unique ways in which an answering service can boost the capabilities of your medical office:

1. You Don???t Have to Hire a Full-Time Receptionist

If you have a small practice, you might not have the financial resources necessary to hire a full-time receptionist to answer the phones, schedule appointments, answer patient questions and the like. With an answering service, you can easily afford to have someone do all that and so much more. Even better is the fact that the right medical answering service agent will have an abundance of experience, which means you don???t run the risk of hiring someone who???s unqualified.

2. Phones Are Answered Faster

When your office is particularly busy, there might not be anyone on hand to answer the phones, which can frustrate callers and patients in need of answers. Having an answering service on hand ensures calls are always answered ??? and answered promptly ??? no matter how busy things get. Remember that a caller might have an emergency on his or her hands, and being able to get through to your office and speaking to someone can offer an abundance of relief and reassurance.

3. Scheduling Appointments Is Made Easier

At the end of the year when patients are scrambling to use their medical benefits before they run out, you might notice you have more people calling to set up appointments, and that???s in addition to your current patients calling with any questions or emergencies they might have. You can rely on a medical answering service specifically to handle year-end appointments to satisfy everyone, including yourself. Something else to think about is the fact that someone might need to reschedule an appointment, which could require some finesse if you have an especially packed calendar.

4. Remain HIPAA Compliant

Keeping patient information protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is essential in this day and age, and the right answering service better ensures you remain compliant. A new receptionist who???s just getting started might not be aware of the latest changes or developments to HIPAA, which could become a serious liability. Rather than take your chances, rely on an experienced medical answering service instead.

5. You???ll Be Brought in When You Truly Need to Be

Some caller questions are easily and quickly taken care of by an answering service, while others require the professional medical expertise of a nurse or doctor. By pairing with the right answering service, you don???t have to worry about being interrupted or called in for situations that are easily handled by an answering service agent. What???s more is you don???t have to worry as much about callers getting the wrong information from agents who don???t know whom to reach out to or when.

6. Professionalism

No matter how talented a medical professional you are, you???re only as good and successful as you treat your patients. An experienced medical answering service knows how to treat your patients with respect and courtesy, setting the tone for what they can expect when they step into your office.

7. Reliability

Patients also like to deal with medical professionals who are reliable and actually answer their phones. An answering service can go a long way in this endeavor. What???s more is an answering service can make sure calls go through even during local power outages.

If you don???t yet have a medical answering service for your practice, what are you waiting for? Know that you have much more to gain than the seven reasons mentioned above.

Give VoiceNation a Try
FREE TRIAL – 30 Minutes on Us!
Try VoiceNation medical answering services for free for 7 days or 30 minutes. No credit card needed.

How to Work From Home

Information Station

Written by Jacob C. Herman

How to Work from Home

Working from home, whether you are working for yourself or telecommuting, can be the best thing to ever happen to your business or it can destroy any chance of success. What makes the difference? Well, it’s simply how you manage your workday.

The first thing to keep in mind is that working from home is not easy. It takes a lot of discipline and motivation which can be hard to maintain when a big flat screen TV is in the next room calling your name. There’s no one to reprimand you for taking a few breaks to catch up on the latest gossip or football scores, so you have to be the one to say, “No, I will sit here and work”. Somehow you have to separate your personal life from your professional life and this article is going to provide some tips on how to do this:

First, remove all distractions from the room you choose to work in. It can be motivating to have something close by that you can look forward to enjoying but if it’s sitting at arms length, staring you in the face while your trying to focus, the temptation sometimes becomes too much to withstand. So, move that nicely displayed PSP on your desk to a designated drawer in the next room and when break time comes, go for it!!!

Set a work schedule so that you know when those much needed break times are. Working from home allows you to start your workday when you feel the most motivation, but if you don’t organize your time, you might end up wasting that motivation on running errands, visiting with friends, or reading that addictive Stephanie Meyer book. No matter what schedule you decide is best, having a set time to start work and finish work helps you know when its time to buckle down and get things done. It also helps your friends and family know when it’s okay to call for a chat or bug you to take out the trash.

Get a virtual voicemail service that is catered for small businesses so that you can differentiate personal calls from business calls. VoiceNation provides this for as low as $9.95 a month with their SimplyONE service which lets you advertise a business number that is separate from your personal home or cell number; keeping your personal information anonymous but saving you the hassle of paying for a separate business phone system and business cell phone. Anytime you don’t see your VoiceNation number on your caller ID, you know it’s a call you should avoid taking until your workday is done.

Make your computer help you start your workday rather than lead you through a tireless search for entertainment. It is way too easy to log on and start tweeting or talking to friends on Facebook and from there the motivation to break away and get serious is harder to regain. Discipline yourself to check business e-mails first so that you get into work mode from the very beginning. If you follow my previous advice and get the SimplyONE service, checking your e-mails will also succeed in listening to your voice mails and retrieving your faxes. The service converts your voice mails to Mp3s and your faxes to PDFs which are then sent to email. This allows you to jump start your workday and not look back until lunch time. Also, if listening to music gets you in the mood to work, then create a playlist and click “play” as soon as you sit at your computer.

Get rid of the clutter that does nothing to help you work. The kid’s toys, unfolded laundry, and bills do not promote productivity in the least because they remind you of things that need to be done in your personal life. Remove these things or yourself from the room even if it means starting your workday later than usual. A change of scenery can be refreshing at times so take advantage of the clean dining room table or sunny patio but make sure to clear your workspace area at some point in the day so that it doesn’t haunt you later.

Get out of the house and take your work with you. This gives you a break from the same old scenery and may even provide a fresh perspective on a project in progress. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to be there all the time. This is another instance where the SimplyONE service comes in handy because it ensures that your business calls follow you to the coffee shop or at least sends your voice mails to your laptop while you’re away. Make sure you go to a place where you aren’t likely to run into your friends but someplace you can feel comfortable.

Make it work for you!!! You alone have the power to make your at home business succeed. The biggest reason business people don’t experience positive results from working from home is because they set themselves up for failure.

For more information about VoiceNation and their services, please visit


Written by



Jun 27, 2012

Case Study: Boulder Emotional Wellness

Category: Services

Boulder Emotional Wellness Improves Client Response Time with VoiceNation’s NextPBX.

Why Your Business Needs a Toll-Free Number

E-commerce, the buying and selling of products over electronic systems, has given consumers the ability to easily conduct business with companies all over the country. With the click of a mouse and secured payment processing via the Internet, a consumer in Sioux Falls, SD can make a purchase from a company in Duluth, MN. The product is then shipped from the company’s Minneapolis warehouse right to the buyer’s doorstep. But what happens when the buyer has questions about the product he or she is purchasing?

More than often, buyers feel more comfortable making an online purchase if they can speak with a live person on the telephone. By offering a toll-free number to your consumers, you position your company as being an easily accessible and convenient place to shop, despite your St. Louis location. Toll-free numbers establish a larger business presence, giving you instant credibility.

Companies who conduct business online must present authenticity. Buyers are sometimes skeptical of making purchases from an online site if they cannot confirm actual contact information. Buyers know they cannot easily make a return to a company in Kansas City, MO if they live in Twin Cities, MN or in Omaha, NE. In fact, making a return to an online store can be a nightmare. Offer your prospects a contact number where you can easily be reached.

Toll-free numbers allow your business to grow, which may mean move to a new location. A successful clothing company in Wichita, KS can very well expand to other areas of Kansas such as Lenexa and Topeka without needing to disconnect and reconnect, ensuring their phone lines stay open for business.

Statistics show ads featuring 800 numbers generate approximately 30% more orders. Toll-free numbers help to increase profits and maximize marketing ROI.

The more obvious approach is that a toll-free number allows consumers to contact you at no charge. Although long distance is very reasonably priced, people don’t want to pay an extra charge if they don’t have to. A prospect choosing between a company that offers a toll-free number versus a toll number, will most likely dial the toll-free number first every time.

Bottom line; don’t lose a sale over a few cents per minute.

Additional sources:

The Evolution of the Internet

The Internet and World Wide Web, two terms commonly used interchangeably in every day speech, actually have two completely separate meanings. The Internet is a global series of interconnected computer networks linking computers to each other and serving over a billion users worldwide. It is a global data communications system.

The Internet, originally termed Arpanet from the U.S. military arm that funded it, was developed in the late 1960’s to allow a community of computers to connect and share information across long distances. It is not owned or run by anyone. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was in charge of setting up the network and enlisted several additional groups to test and implement the system. The Internet first connected large universities, UCLA and Stanford. The system then expanded to the University of Utah and University of California Santa Barbara. The Arpanet was renamed Internet in 1984, made available to the public in the mid 1990’s and has grown to host close to 2 billion users in 2011. Users reside globally, from England to Asia and from Billings and Bozeman, Montana to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The World Wide Web (WWW) is an Internet service that provides access to interlinked hypertext documents. Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1990 as a way to publish information via the Internet. Computer science student, Marc Andreessen created the first-ever web browser, known as Mosaic. Internet traffic then grew further with Internet websites and web pages.

While the Internet gives users the capability to connect, the web allows users to view text documents, images and videos via hypertext on websites, web pages, articles, blogs and email.

The Internet and World Wide Web have also given way to e-commerce, the buying and selling of goods electronically. Communicating between Aurora, Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado, all the way to Boise, Idaho now comes exceptionally easy. Conducting business between Ogden, Park City, Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah can be done with the click of a mouse.

Additional sources:

Answering Your Questions About Answering Students’ Questions

To watch a teacher answer students’ questions, one might think the teacher was somehow born with the ability to do so. Answering questions from students is, however, an acquired skill. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions many new teachers have regarding how to properly and effectively answer students’ questions.

1. How long do I wait to respond?

Do not be afraid of silence, but neither should you allow it to take over your classroom. It is often best, if you know you have the class’s attention (and they are not simply daydreaming), to reword the question. It may be that they simply did not understand the question and a rewording of that question might be just what they need. Perhaps try to remind them (maybe preemptively with an anticipatory set) of when or how they learned the information about which you are asking, or replace a word with one that may be easier to understand. Most importantly, be patient. A good rule of thumb is to wait five seconds before saying anything.

2. What do I do if I get the wrong response?

Try to point out what was right about the response, even if it is only a small portion of what was said. At the very least, if the student is entirely off base, give the student credit for trying. Being short in your response, using one word sentences like “no” or “wrong” not only discourages that student from ever responding again, but also stops any other students from taking his or her shot at answering. It is important, though, to make it perfectly clear that the answer was incorrect so as to prevent confusion.

3. How do I know what questions to ask?

For new teachers, one helpful bit of advice is to plan your questions ahead of time. This is useful because classroom discussions will often veer off course and, while often times these tangents can be helpful, it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure the students will learn curriculum. To avoid unintended detours, it is often helpful for the new teacher to carry with her at all times a clipboard. On this clipboard, the teacher can place a laminated sheet of paper to be written on every day with new questions she means to ask. This will help keep the class moving in the intended direction and, should the conversation go astray, stopping the class and asking one of the questions on that list will refocus your students.

4. What is the process of answering a question?

While it may not always appear obvious to the students, the teacher will usually follow a certain procedure when answering a question. Basically, this process involves three steps:

  • Did everyone hear that?
  • If you are in any way uncertain whether the class heard the question, repeat it yourself or have the student repeat it. It does no one any good to give a great answer to a question half the class did not hear.
  • Try to answer as directly as possible. For many students, asking a question is something far outside their comfort zone. The teacher must remember that it is also something which requires trust between student and teacher, and must therefore show the student she is trustworthy. One way to disintegrate that trust is by somehow writing off the question. Having another student answer or telling a student he should already know the answer does nothing to help any of the students in the room. A good rule of thumb to remember in the teaching profession is that it is rare that a question exists only for the student who asked it. While alternative answering methods are effective and a nice way to engage the entire class, make the student who asked the question aware of the fact that you are about to employ one of those techniques. Something like, “That’s a great question, and one I think we should all participate in, so what I want everyone to do is ask the person next to you for a possible answer and write it down. Then we’ll share.” In this way, you were able to use the most effective answering method you could think of without alienating your student.
  • Ensure understanding. This can be as simple as asking your students if they understand, though you should be aware that while it is often difficult to get students to ask questions in the first place, it may be more difficult to get them to admit in front of their peers that they did not understand the explanation. Therefore, it may be best, if you have the time in the discussion, to do a quick recap, verbal or written, to ensure understanding. Also, if you have a hunch that the entire class may not understand your answer, note when you will be available to answer any questions they may have after class.

5. How do I make sure to address the questions any students with disabilities in my classroom may have?

Students with 504 plans and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) may be difficult to address in your classroom for a variety of reasons. While running an inclusive classroom is a noble effort and one which is often encouraged or required by administrators, it can lead to classroom management issues, especially for the new teacher.  Here are a few tips for encouraging classroom participation for all students:

  • The special education teacher is your best friend
  • Having an open line of communication with the special education teacher and the paraeducators (teacher’s aides, assistants, etc.) is vital to your success in the inclusive classroom. These teachers are resources, because they know (usually by heart) any accommodations specified in a student’s IEP. Also, they tend to know the individual interests of their students, as well as any idiosyncratic tendencies a particular student may have.
  • Use those interests. Perhaps even more than with a non-IEP student, building trust with a special needs student is key to their education and your success. Therefore, the successful teacher can usually find a way to make the most of a student’s interests by somehow incorporating it in the classroom discussion. For example, if a student is into NASCAR, it may benefit the teacher to shape one or two questions around what she knows (or has researched) about NASCAR. Liken a character in a novel to Jeff Gordon, or note the geometric properties of the racetrack at Daytona.
  • With your special education teacher, set reasonable expectations. There is a major difference between setting reasonable expectations for the special needs student and “lowering expectations”. Lowering expectations does nothing for the student, the class, or the teacher. However, setting high expectations relative to a special education student’s needs is important. Remember that eventually these students will be expected to live independently or at least gain as much independence as possible, so demanding nothing of them is doing them a major disservice.


Deep Southern Cuisine

Southern United States cuisine is unique to its roots depicting the “deep south”. You will find cultural variations from state to state, but most dishes considered southern can be found anywhere you go. Some states are known for their signature item, such as Louisiana Hot Sauce or Georgia Peaches. You will find that all southern states take pride in what they call “comfort food”.


Comfort foods are consumed to improve the emotional status of an individual and are commonly a cultural preference. Southern foods such as fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, pot roast, meatloaf, and casseroles are all considered comfort foods.


There is no shortage of home grown vegetables in the south. Southerners in Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, and Macon enjoy growing watermelon, butter-beans, okra, peppers, squash and tomatoes. Savannah, Georgia and Mobile, Alabama are known for its fresh seafood, including grilled fish, scallops, oysters, alligator tail and fried shrimp. In the south, you can get shrimp any way you want it. Shrimp n’ Grits are a favorite dish throughout the south. Fried catfish is common is areas of Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Jackson.


Have you ever heard the term “soul food?” Head on down to Louisiana, where they are known for their creole cuisine. New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport are home to the many craw fish boils and low-country boils. Cajun food is readily available, along with turnip greens, rice and cornbread.


Great southern BBQ can be found in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Cross Plains Orlindo and Knoxville, Tennessee. BBQ recipes and preferences vary from person to person, but you will find one common thread throughout the south. Each BBQ-er and each smoker thinks their recipe is “the best” and is reluctant to share recipe secrets. Common side dishes are coleslaw and baked beans.


Don’t forget to pair your meal with a tall glass of sweet iced tea and leave room for dessert. Southerners are known for their baked cookies, pies and cakes!