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You've GotVMail to handle phones

When Julie F. Smith launched Vintage June Inc., from her Boca Raton home in 2005, she knew how she used the phone could help her business appear larger than home-based.

Though Smith answered calls with a professional greeting, when she left the home office—to run errands or to shuttle her three kids about—calls were left to simple voice mail. A “follow-up” calling service would let Smith forward and answer business calls no matter where she was. And a toll-free number would boost her professional appearance as well.

So last year, Smith subscribed to GotVMail. The phone service provides a professionally recorded greeting, voice mail for multiple mailboxes, a follow-me feature that forwards inbound calls to her wireless phone—and even a toll-free number for inbound calls.

“My company seems a lot bigger than it is and this helps me do that,” said Smith, who relocated her woman’s accessories and style business to an east Boca Raton storefront last month.

Smith isn’t alone. To date, some 40,000 small and home-based businesses subscribe to the GotVMail service, the company noted. Home-based entrepreneurs, corporate sales representatives, eBay “power sellers” and small business owners who want to look larger—like Smith—are ideal customers for the service, said David Powers, a vice president with GotVMail. The average company using the service has around four employees, though it can accommodate 10 or more. Some have 50 or more salespeople around the country and using the service, Powers said.

Like Smith, users can log on or call in to change settings, greetings and instructions. She can change mailbox directories, record new greetings, program or change the follow-me or forwarding number where inbound calls will ring, and view a log of all inbound calls—even hang-ups. Like similar “follow-me” services, callers say their name and Smith can decide whether to take the call or send it to voice mail.

Smith even wrote a greeting and had GotVMail polish the script and professionally record it. Available voice talent varies, Powers said. The company has international talent, like from the United Kingdom, polished readers for professional firms like legal or accounting practices, those with accents based on regions of the country, or even people of color for minority-owned companies.

“It’s based on what sound you want to project,” he said. “A barbecue place is different from a law firm.”

Base packages from GotVMail and similar providers average $10. Packages rise in price based on the number of features and mailboxes included, Powers noted. Smith pays around $37 a month for all her features, including around 1,000 minutes on the toll-free line. The script reading costs extra. All she needed to get started was an existing phone line, whether a landline, wireless phone or voice-over-Internet protocol line, Powers said.

For Smith, the service fits well with her professional and family needs. If she’s traveling, Smith forwards the calls to her cell phone. The service will forward to any line anywhere in the world, Powers said. But to maintain family balance, Smith set the scheduler on the GotVMail Web site to send calls straight to voice mail after hours, she said.

“It’s fantastic for my business. I can do all the changes and updates online. Since I have an online business, I’m all for that,” Smith said. “It’s all me, but callers don’t know that.”