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Telephone – Tools of the Trade

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This article is Part 1 in a multi-part series revolving around the Tools of the Trade that any landlord should be aware of and probably use. In this series, I will cover the following topics and probably throw in a few others along the way:

If there are any topics that you would like covered, please feel free to leave a comment!

As a Do It Yourself type of person, you want to move ahead as quickly as possible to make things happen; sometimes this will bite you in the end. Take a moment to think about your strategy all the way from purchase to rented. This blog post, as well as most that I will write, will assume that you have already purchased or are in the middle of purchasing a rental property.

Telephones, such a basic device, most of us carry one around in either our pocket or purse. Do you really want your house or mobile number scattered across the Internet more than it already is? Do you want to see an increase in robo-calls chewing through your minutes, or pushing you to the point where you start letting all incoming calls go to voicemail so you can screen them? Not everyone will leave a message… Been there, done that!

Think about all of the places that your phone number will be listed, simply because you want to become the DIY Property Manager. Yard Sign? Internet Advertisements? Newspaper Advertisements? Not only are your prospective tenants reading this information, but Internet crawlers too. Imagine little robots running around the Internet, collecting data, so they can ultimately sell this information for pennies per thousand name/telephone number pairs; how do you think Google collects websites information to match against your search?

My problem started when I still believed that every company, big or small, needed credit. So off I went, registering my LLC, my personal address, and my mobile phone number with the local business credit reporting agency; the next thing I knew, I started receiving phone call from all over the country trying to sell me investment opportunities ranging from Gold to Solar to Cruise Ships. 10+ calls per day, every day was driving me mad. I needed to come up with a way to limit my personal exposure to these pests!

There are several options available, ranging from Free to somewhat expensive; it really depends on how flexible and how “big” you want your business to appear.

Google Voice

Google Voice
Google Voice allows you to have a pseudo Voice-Over-IP telephone wherever you go. I say pseudo because with this system, Google will call your phone, call the recipient, and then tie the two calls together; this will use your mobile minutes and not your data plan as a true VOIP system would.
– Cost: Free
– Android/iPhone apps available
– Forward all calls to a single designated phone number (phone must be authorized in Google Voice).
– Automatically transcribes voice mail into e-mail and/or text message
– Play a custom greeting instead of your mobile voicemail’s greeting
– Allow for call screening. Press 1 to accept, 2 to send to voice mail type thing.
– Caller ID. You can either pass through the caller’s phone number as caller ID or your Google Voice number as the caller id
– Do Not Disturb. Force all calls to go straight to voicemail.
– Record phone conversations

Phone.com

Phone.com
Phone.com is a true VOIP system
– Cost: Packages start as low as $8.88 + per minute charges for overage
– Android app available. iPhone can either use the mobile site or purchase the Bria VOIP application
– Forward calls to any telephone.
– Send and Receive text messages
– Custom Call Tree’s. Think Press 1 for current listings, Press 2 for Maintenance, Press 0 for the operator
– Fax handling – Inbound/Outbound
– Custom Calling Rules – Forward all calls from Tenant #1 to extension #357, Forward all calls from Tenant #2 to extension #38’s Voice Mail
– As this is a true VOIP service, mobile use will go against your Data plan. You can purchase physical phones for your home office that will work on the same number.
– Options are virtually unlimited!

RingCentral

Ring Central
Ring Central is a true VOIP system
– Cost: Packages as low as $19.99 + per minute charges for overage
– Android/iPhone apps available
– Forward calls to any telephone
– Custom Call Tree’s
– Fax handling – Inbound/Outbound
– Custom Calling Rules

The above “VOIP” services are what I have investigated for my own use. I started off with Google Voice as it was free and did everything that I needed for the time being; eventually switched over to Phone.com. Google Voice was great, but I had a problem when I wanted to have two Google Voice phone numbers. Google does not allow you to route two Google Voice numbers to the same telephone, so my choice was either to force all calls from one number to go to voicemail and have the voice mails transcribed and e-mails and the other would be routed to my phone. This was only problematic when I needed to actually call the tenant that goes to voicemail; I would have to reconfigure my Google Voice account as well as my iPhone App to use the second number…very frustrating!

Now, I am still in the process of migrating both telephone numbers over to Phone.com, but so far everything has been fairly smooth. Both Phone.com and Ring Central appear to offer very similar services and if you really look into the pricing, the pricing structure is similar as well regardless of the price point where packages start. Phone.com doesn’t currently have an iPhone App whereas Ring Central does; however, Phone.com supports incoming and outgoing SMS (text messaging) where Ring Central does not. The lack of Text messaging support was actually the deal breaking as this is the primary way one of my tenants communicates with me; she only calls when there is a major maintenance issue to deal with.

I hope this helps to move you a little further along in your process to becoming the great DIY Property Manager that you are capable of.

Questions? Comments? Contact DIY Property Manager!

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