The receptionist’s role is possibly one of the most important supporting roles in a company. The receptionist is a company’s face, they are the first point of contact, and the first impression; an ambassador of sorts. They are the first line of defense for screening unwanted phone calls, and the first point of reference for new clients and other customer inquiries.

While you may be thinking, well, I already have a receptionist from 9-5, it’s important to consider the value of hiring an additional receptionist for early or after hours.

Karen Firestone, in an article for the Harvard Business Review, recently wrote about the perils of cost cutting for businesses, and sited a mistake she made when considering a receptionist’s request for early leave:

“When our last receptionist asked if she could leave an hour early each day at a reduced salary so that she could get home to her son, I initially jumped at the chance to save some money. I never envisioned losing a major potential client who called our office two weeks later at 4:45, left a message on our main line’s voice mail since no human was there to take the call, and then wasn’t very interested when I responded the next day.

I did not regret granting my employee’s request for a family-friendly schedule, but I did wish that I’d used the recouped cost to hire a temp to cover any important end-of-day calls. But I was only focused on the bottom line. Many executives similarly lose sight of the fact that cost cutting can sometimes go too far, undermining the vitality of their organization.”

Firestone brings up a great point: it may be time to hire a new receptionist.

If you work with clientele in a different time zone, you may need additional coverage during hours that aren’t your normal hours, and we aren’t just talking about clients abroad.  If you’re headquartered on the east coast with clients on the west coast, chances are there are at least three hours of your day that aren’t covered.

Consider the type of receptionist you’ve hired, especially in large markets like New York City or Los Angeles. These receptionists are sometimes actors, dancers, and musicians who work in reception as a way to pay their bills while pursuing other careers.  There’s nothing wrong with this method, in fact, “creative types” often make great receptionists due to their ability to really play the character well.  Eager college students looking to break into administration are also great candidates for a vacant receptionist position, and you can often save significantly when hiring a college student and allowing flexibility in their schedule.

What we have seen in the past is clients hiring two receptionists, one for the early shift, 7am-2pm, and one for the late shift, 2pm-8pm.  This method covers early mornings when clients may call, or executives may have early meetings, either in-house, or via webcam.  Evening hours are also covered, in case, like Firestone cites, a client calls during a time when a receptionist wouldn’t normally be at their desk.

An alternative? Hire a virtual receptionist for your business and have calls forwarded to that person’s home or cell phone after hours.  This is a cost-effective way of doubling your reception duties without increasing your office costs because you won’t need to have an office stay open to accommodate this person since they will be working remotely.

Need help hiring a receptionist? We specialize in administrative support.  Contact us at 212-867-4678.

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