The True Cost of Hiring a Receptionist VS Outsourcing Telephone Answering Services
An increasing number of savvy small business owners are recognizing that outsourcing their telephone answering services in the form of an off-site receptionist is an excellent way to control costs and enhance customer service without the headaches of hiring an employee. However, before taking this step it is important to assess an accurate value for such a service so you can budget realistically.
Unlike an old-fashioned telephone answering service, a modern-day off-site receptionist (sometimes called a virtual receptionist or remote receptionist), provides a wide range of services including live telephone answering, real-time call connections, appointment scheduling, order placement, seminar registrations and more. In fact, the core philosophy of these companies differ from an answering service in that they consider themselves YOUR employee for that phone call, and not the third-party service associated with after-hours calls to the doctor’s office.
So, what is the true value of an off-site receptionist and how does it compare with hiring a receptionist to work at your location? Here are some estimated costs associated with hiring that employee including some not so obvious ones you will want to consider. According to Salary.com, the median cost of hiring a receptionist is as follows:
Benefit Median Amount % of Total
Base Salary; $33,787; 67.4%
Bonuses; $394; 0.8%
Social Security; $2,615; 5.2%
401k / 403b; $1,231; 2.5%
Disability; $342; 0.7%
Healthcare; $5,722; 11.4%
Pension; $1,572; 3.1%
Time Off; $4,470; 8.9%
Total; $50,132; 100%
Source: HR Reported data as of March 2009
At nearly $50,000 annually, your Receptionist budget would need to be in excess of $4,000/month, but even if you estimate on the low end it adds up to more than you think. Suppose you don’t offer a generous benefits package and can find someone to answer your phones for $10/hour. Add to that mandatory employment tax of about 11% and you’re pushing $2000/month. That does not even account for the estimated 450 square feet they will occupy (at a conservative $1/foot), lunch breaks, sick days, and assorted management headaches.
Depending on your call volume and the services you require, an off-site receptionist can typically perform many of the same functions for anywhere from 5%-50% of that cost, which in this case could be $100-$1,000. If that sounds like a wide range, keep in mind that pricing is usually designed to scale based upon the amount of receptionist time you require. If you are simply looking to have your calls screened, announced and connected in real-time your costs will be lower than if you are using appointment scheduling or a more time intensive process. Either way, when you factor the many associated costs and the time involved with hiring, training and retaining good employees, most will agree that an off-site receptionist is a tremendous value.