Small Business Phone Etiquette

By Robert Robillard on Contractor Advice

cartoon telephone



Dear fellow contractors and small business people . . .

  • How do you answer your phone?
  • Who answers your phone?
  • How soon do you return phone calls?
  • What does your voice mail say?

Phone Etiquette

Your company’s telephone reception service is often the very first contact your customers have with you.

It doesn’t matter whether your company uses a receptionist, a phone service, voice mail system or you answer the a cellphone you need to follow some sort of small business phone etiquette.

What is said and how it is conveyed is YOUR Companies First Impression. Remember you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.


Here’s some tips to welcome and inform your callers:


  • Ensure that your receptionist is knowledgeable in your business and can make appointments without checking with you.
  • Ensure that this person is capable and comfortable talking to people and handling all the situations that may arise.   Inform and train them!
  • Ensure that they use proper phone etiquette: answering in a warm, unhurried, professional manner, and always giving the name of your company and their name. For example, “ABC Contracting, this is Lisa speaking, may I help you?”

Voice Mail:

  • Smile before you leave your message – be friendly in your tone. Remember – your tone and how you say something is far more important that the words you use.
  • Leave a clear, un hurried and professional message.
  • Play your message back to see how it sounds. Make sure to avoid background noise. [e.g., tools, hammering, or kids yelling]
  • Leave a real message and either your business name or at least your name – NOT “you’ve reached 555-123-4567.”
  • Consider stating that you will call people back with in 1-2 business days. I make it a point to always call people back immediately, even if it’s to tell them I’m too busy to look at their project now or ever.


With more and more contractors having websites the likelihood that you will receive emails is a reality.

I answer all emails the day they are received.

If your swamped with work and do not have the time to do or even look at a job – tell them.   I sometimes will schedule an estimate a week, or longer out.   Sometimes after emailing back and forth people will tell you their not in a rush and are willing to wait for you ~ so don’t ignore their request to look at a job.

BEWARE ~ Email lacks tone so be sure to take the time to type the message your trying to convey. Read it out loud before hitting that send button. Use please, and thank you more than you might in person.

Answering your cellphone:

  • Answer the phone in a warm, professional manner.
  • Business 101:  Return phone calls daily
  • I always say, ” hello or good morning / afternoon, this is Rob Robillard
  • Over the years I have phased out my home number and have been using my cellphone exclusively as my business phone.
  • There are many times that I answer the phone when I am in the middle of a project or up on a ladder. I find the best solutions here is to tell the person the situation your in and ask if they are willing to be called back or, even better, call you later.
  • I sometimes give them my email address and ask them to email me their contact info and brief description of their project. Then I return the email that night.

Speak to you later and remember to follow a plan for small business phone etiquette  as well as subscribe to Good Business Practices!

~ a concord carpenter

Sending Professional Emails – Video Tip


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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