You must have some way for people to reach you when you cannot answer the phone, primarily prospective students, but also friends and other people in your life. You absolutely cannot get up from the piano to answer the phone. Your student is paying for 100% of your attention during his lesson, and it is unprofessional to give him anything less.
Although you can subscribe to an answering service such as those physicians use, more feasible alternatives are voicemail through your telelphone company or an answering machine plugged into your phone unit.
The cost of the service/machine is deductible.
The cardinal rule is to make sure the greeting message is professional. No celebrity impersonators ("This is the Jones residence, pilgrim. Leave a message or get outta town.") or kids. No cutesy stuff (singing, poems, the family pet "speaking," or several people delivering a portion of the message).
When you call the dentist, do you hear a message like this? No, you do not. You hear a message from a professional office.
This is what needs to happen for phone calls to your studio. If you immediately give the impression that you are a professional, you will be treated like one.
Your present families already know you're a professional, but prospective students do not. Don't let them start out on the wrong foot!
If you have a separate business line, put whatever you please on your family answering machine. If you have a voicemail on the family line where the caller has several options ("Press 1 if you want to leave a message for Bill or Susan. Press 2 for..."), the "menu" message must be professional. Sorry. No choice.
Note: A separate business line is fully deductible, including the telephone unit itself. If you use the family line, the only things that are deductible are the long distance call charges relating to your studio (plus taxes on these calls) and voicemail charges, if any.
See this file for information on dealing with other interruptions.
copyright 2002, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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