Providing a toll-free telephone number can be an effective customer service tool and a savvy marketing strategy for many small businesses. Most long-distance carriers provide toll-free numbers at reasonable rates. Some offer them for free as part of a long-distance package. In either case, you pay for all the phone calls at a per-minute rate. To help you decide if a toll-free number is the right choice, review your existing customer list. Determine what percentage of customers has to call long distance to reach you. Also consider whether a toll-free number might expand your market area and bring new customers to your door.

Gene Fairbrother ShopTalk 800® Business Consultant National Association for the Self-Employed Dallas

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