If you don’t already know it, an 800 number is not an expensive proposition. I have used a site for a few years that costs $2 per month for a standard 888, 877, or 866 number plus usage rates of 6.9 cents per minute. An 800 number increases your base rate to $5 per month. There are also vanity phone numbers available.
You can also use a service such as RingCentral.com to manage multiple numbers including fax lines and employee extensions. Ring Central is a better choice if you plan on a decent volume of calls or plan to add numbers for additional employees or services.
Kall8 is a good choice if you don’t anticipate much activity, but have a need for a number at a very low cost.
If you are a company who is trying to project a presence beyond your local area, an 800 number is good idea. It isn’t always the cost to your consumer, it is really the perception that you are a larger company.
If you need to project a different story to a consumer, well, you can do that too. Are you located in Orlando, but want the customer to assume that you are in Chicago? I said assume. You can obtain a local number much the way you would an 800 number. This might be the item that pushes your consumer to purchase something from you rather than from a competitor. If you have a customer who wants an item fast, and you can provide that, he or she might have the impression that it takes longer for the item to reach them from Florida rather than Illinois.
Along with an inexpensive toll free number, or local number, you could consider a Virtual Office. With a virtual office, you can project an image that will win you customers simply due to the image that you project. I am not suggesting that you are dishonest with anyone. If asked, make it clear that your business address is a shared executive office facility and that you are not there on a daily basis. As a growing company, it is not a surprise to move once or twice in the first year or two. A virtual office address will not only provide a better image than using your home address, or a foreign address, but it will allow you to keep a single address during your growth phase. This will save you some time and money in updating letterhead, business cards, web sites, directory site listings, map listings, local business listings, and more (in the event that you move your physical location).
Consider a virtual office with a local number. It can help your business to grow.