I have had a policy in my salon for 14 years that a phone must be answered when it rings before the 4th ring, preferably the second. Recently however this has interfered with me being able to do my job the way I wanted to do it. There are times the phone will ring and I really want to throw it out the window. LITERALLY!
A few weeks ago I decided that we were solidly booked on a Saturday and there was no way I could take any more dogs. My son said "Mama, it is OK to not answer the phone! Put a message on that says 'sorry we are full' and let the machine pick up!" See, I have this real emotional attachment to many of my clients. I have a really hard time saying "Sorry" to some of them as they have been loyal, dependable clients for 10 years or more!
When we have 30 dogs in the door however, it is really hard to add any more without compromising quality. I had to do something, and my son, for all his talk, is no better at telling people no than I am, and my apprentice is getting to the point that she recognizes client's names on the caller ID and she has the same "illness" we have when it comes to telling people "Sorry, we have no room."
SO I have given myself permission to use my answering machine on days when we are open, not just on the weekends.
I state that we are busy, no appointments until XXX and ask them to leave a message and someone will return their call between 4 and 5:30pm. I also explain that we are not answering the phone to allow us to pay attention to the pets we are working on, and if their pet is currently in the shop, they will be ready at the appointed pick up time.
Today we let the machine pick up from 7:45am until noon. We had 10 calls to return at the end of the day. It meant I was able to help dry dogs without stressing about missing a call or stopping every five minutes to answer the phone, which means taking off my headphones, turning off my dryer, securing my dog, etc. etc..
Feel free to use your answering machine as a receptionist if you are truly too busy to answer the phone. Your clients that truly value your service will appreciate that you care enough about the pets to not answer the phone while working on their babies. New clients will be a bit harder to impress, but with luck they will think you are very busy and that will make them want to bring their puppies to you. If you are busy enough to use the machine however, you will not necessarily want new clients! Use this as a tool to help you do more work in your salon and relieve stress in your life to a degree as well.
I feel like a free woman! Free at last to do what needs to be done without being tied to the telephone! Now if I can just get more people to leave a message.........