Does a Receptionist or an Answering Service Cost More?


When it comes to having your business phone answered, you’ve got plenty of options. There is lots to consider to make the right choice, so it’s always important to ask if a receptionist or an answering service costs more.

Image of an answering service receptionist

Many businesses choose between having an in-house receptionist or a professional answering service handle their calls. In a microcosm, both are very similar. Someone calls your business and speaks to a helpful person that can assist them by scheduling appointments, processing orders, sharing information about the company, transferring them to the person they need to speak with, and more. A receptionist and an answering service are two alternatives to achieving the same result when you look at it on a call by call basis. So does a receptionist or an answering service cost more?

Let’s do some simple math to figure out if a receptionist or an answering service costs more:

Say your company gets 10 calls per business day. That’s about 200 calls in a month. Each of those calls lasts an average of 1 minute, 30 seconds. Answering services will typically charge somewhere between 0.80 and 1.20 per minute depending on your plan, so let’s keep it simple and say $1.00 per minute. 200 calls x 1.5 minutes x $1.00 per minute = $300 per month to use an answering service. That’s $3,600 for a year of professional live answering services, but that number can obviously fluctuate up or down a bit depending on your call volume.

Now let’s look at the cost of using a receptionist to handle your phones:

The average annual salary in the United States for receptionists, office managers, and administrative assistants is about $30,000 per year. Straight away we can conclude that $30,000 per year for a receptionist is more than $3,600 per year for an answering service. However, there is more to consider.

The cost of hiring a receptionist to set up in your office does not stop at $30k/year. Consider the time you must spend training them, money that must be used purchasing the equipment they need to do their job, payroll taxes, and benefits. Think about the paid vacations and breaks that they won’t even be answering your phone. Don’t forget the cost of missed opportunities if they aren’t able to take a call because they are away from their desk or on the line with another caller. And finally, how long does a receptionist normally stay in their position before moving on to another job and you’ve got to go through the process of finding, interviewing, hiring, and training another one?

One more thing to consider when thinking about the cost of a receptionist versus hiring an answering service:

What happens to your business phones when your receptionist inevitably goes home for the day or doesn’t work weekends? Odds are that people will still try to get in contact with your company after hours and only a 24/7 live answering service can reasonably provide that kind of coverage.

The numbers don’t lie. It is far more cost effective to use a professional answering service than it is to hire a receptionist. It’s more convenient too. In the end, a great telephone answering service can provide much better phone coverage at a mere fraction of the cost.

If you’re curious how much it might cost you to use an answering service, contact us today for a free consultation.

Related Articles

What is the Difference Between an Answering Service and a Virtual Receptionist?

30 Reasons You Need an Answering Service for Your Business

How Your Business Should Answer The Phone