When you set up a business telephone number through your local carrier, that number typically is automatically registered in the local white pages, directory assistance (411) and the yellow pages. But if you're using a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) line, a cell phone or your personal home phone for your business, chances are you will need to add that phone number to directory assistance yourself. Unfortunately, there is no single, master database containing all 411 information. Each carrier maintains their own data. In fact, there are thousands of 411 directory providers. Fortunately, adding a business phone number to 411 is easy and relatively inexpensive – sometimes it's even free!
Know the Value
While the reliance on virtual communication continues to grow, it is still important to make sure consumers have a way to find your business phone number through the local white pages or through 411. According to one source, 411 is used 6 billion times per year, providing the telecom industry with $8 billion per year in high-profit revenue. Beyond just being able to look up your company and reach out via phone, creditors sometimes check with Directory Assistance to make sure businesses are legitimate when they apply for credit. And if you don’t have a listing, some consumers might assume you aren’t running a legitimate business.
Make the Call
Call your local telephone carrier and confirm whether your business number is listed in their directory assistance as the policy can vary for different carriers. If it isn't listed, inquire how to set up a business listing. Most likely, they'll recommend setting up a remote call forwarding under your business name. There will be charges involved, but considering the volume of people using 411, that cost may be worth it.
To add your cell phone number or VoIP number to the 411 directories you’ll have to follow some additional steps. One service to try is List Yourself! This service connects you with 5,000 directory assistance listings for free. It gives you several options to validate your phone number once you’ve filled out the online form and then forwards it to directory assistance for all major carriers.
You can also set up a listing through Verizon, even if you are not a Verizon customer, by using their online listing platform. The price of a listing varies by state and can range from $1.15 to slightly under $5 per month, making it a highly cost-effective way for a small business to be found by local consumers.
You can also get a free business phone number listing to yellowpages.com. For a fee, you can upgrade your listing to include a video profile, premium placement, an enhanced search program and a website.
Plus, you’ll want to contact your local 411 and ask for your own listing. If you are told that there is no listing, inform them that you are the owner of the business, and ask them how to get listed locally. There may be a small charge which is a sound investment to make sure that customers can find your company.
To ensure that your information is listed correctly, call yourself. It will also help to keep your listing up to date and accurate if you consider where your customers are calling from, what other names customers might use to find your business and whether customers would like to call a local or toll-free number. Once you’ve addressed those questions, call from the cities or regions where your customers are located to make sure you are listed correctly and make updates as needed.
Katie Mills Giorgio is a freelance writer and editor living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has been creating content for a variety of websites and publications for the past 15 years.