Do You Need an 800 Number? Or a Separate Fax Line?

If you’re a small business owner (or otherwise) and are trying to cut costs of doing business, let the toll-free number go. And unless you have to send a lot of faxes, get rid of the dedicated line for that too.

Incoming calls on your toll-free line or a dedicated fax line that’s not used a lot can be a big waste of money. What else could you do with that money you’re spending every month? Are you still hanging on to these thinking you’ll get more business? Do you think this is helping you appear bigger than you are? You can accomplish more if you put that money into a more professional Web presence.

Here is why I got rid of my toll-free number years ago.

  • Phone companies offer unlimited long distance. For $20 a month, I get unlimited long distance from AT&T. I don’t think anything about making a call and staying on the line until I’ve finished my business.
  • Cell phones make it economical to call long distance. I don’t give out my cell phone number and always have minutes to roll over to the next month. If I need to make a call away from my office, it’s no problem, no cost.
  • Google could work better than a vanity number. Getting a phone number that spells your company name, etc., is a cute way for people to remember you. But the perfect vanity number is hard to come by. If someone hears me on the radio, etc., they can Google various terms they heard me say, my name, etc., and find me right away. If I had a vanity number to give out, would they remember? I don’t think so.

Here is why I got rid of my dedicated fax line years ago.

  • Combo copier/fax/printer/scanner with a splitter makes it easy to fax. On the rare occasion that I have to fax something, I fax from this unit using my regular phone line. I have DSL (it uses a different signal from the analog phone) and the splitter on the phone jack eliminates the need to unplug or switch any wires.
  • efax for incoming faxes. Since I rarely have to receive a fax, I use the free service from I don’t publicize the fax number, and only give it out as needed. As long as I don’t receive more than 20 pages a month, the service is free.
  • Mail it instead of fax. If they can’t email it, and it’s too many pages to fax, use snail mail. We often forget about the option of mailing something. It still works.

Peggy Duncan Personal Productivity Expert

Wake Up in the Morning Knowing What You Need to Do, Where You're Going, and How to Get There

I was standing in the lobby of a client’s office, and a gentleman walked in asking for directions. After the receptionist explained everything, he took out a piece of paper and asked her if she knew how to get to the other places on his list.

Turns out he was a salesperson and had planned on calling on several companies. He was new to the Atlanta area and had no idea where anything was. He’d moved from a small town and was used to getting from one place to the other fairly quickly. In Atlanta, you need to know where you’re going and make a good guess as to how long it’ll take you to get there (we don’t explain timing in miles…we do it in minutes. You could be ten miles from somewhere, but we’ll tell you that it’s 45 minutes away). Our traffic is bad early morning and late afternoon, but it’s easy to get around in between.

Well, anyway, I mentioned to him that he was going to spend most of his day getting directions and getting lost. And because he didn’t figure out anything in advance, he could end up driving around in circles…instead of driving with a plan and closing sales. Instead of having sufficient time to sell his stuff, he’ll be in the car having no idea where he is or which way he’d need to go.

When you wake up in the morning, you should already know what you need to accomplish,where you’re going, how to get there, and when you need to leave in order to get there on time. This gentleman could have used a combination of MapQuest, GPS technology, and the telephone to develop a plan.

I devoted an entire chapter to getting out of the house on time in my time management book, The Time Management Memory Jogger(TM). It’s available on my Website. Want training? It’s on my site too.


Word asks if I want to delete and I don't want it to

This question came from a Computer Magic seminar attendee. I don’t provide technical support, but when I can answer something quickly, I will (but don’t get any ideas about sending me your problems…OK?).

“In Word, if I highlight text, it wont’ let me delete by just hitting the delete button. It puts a message in the left-hand corner that asks Delete? Y or N. Then I think it makes me type Y or N. Annoying. My coworker suggested just hitting backspace instead of delete and that does work instead of the delete key. Any ideas?”

Solution from Peggy

You probably have the WordPerfect option checked. Turn it off by clicking the Tools menu, Options, General tab, and untick Help for WordPerfect Users box.

This should fix it.

Add a Signature to Your Email Messages

After one of my computer tips seminars (Computer Magic), an attendee sent me a question about a problem she was having in Word. (“In Word, if I highlight text, it wont’ let me delete by just hitting the delete button.”)

I don’t come anywhere near providing technical support, but when a question is something I can answer quickly, and it’s from an attendee, I will when time allows.

I sent a response that I’m sure would solve the problem, but the email bounced back. For some reason her company’s servers rejected my email. I would have called her, but the only thing in the signature line was her first name. I had no idea who she was because I presented the seminar at a large conference. I could have called the company, trying to track her down, but I’m busy.

So now someone who loved my seminar now thinks I ignored her. Bummer.

As a professional courtesy and convenience, add your contact information at the end of each email message. In Outlook:

  1. Click the Tools menu, Options, Mail Format tab, Signatures, New. (If you want to create a more extensive signature, click Advanced Edit to go outside of Outlook.)
  2. Create one that includes all of your contact information.

If you’re curious about the answer, it’s here in another post. For more tips, tricks, and strategies in Outlook, check out my book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2003. You can also join me LIVE on the Web for training. Details are on my Website.