0161, 0845 or 0300: How to choose the right telephone number for your business

By Kirsty Allen at

Number Supermarket, based on Stamford New Road in Altrincham, helps companies across the UK build their brands nationally – and now wants to make sure that organisations in the Altrincham area are making the most of the marketing opportunities that a telephone system can provide. In the third of three columns, Kirsty Allen explains how you should choose a phone number that’s right for your business…

Choosing a telephone number for your business can be a daunting and challenging task. There are so many different telephone numbers to choose from and the rates and contracts involved are very complicated.

Building a trusting relationship with your customers or clients is crucial to the success of every business. One of the first times you have an opportunity to influence your clients, or customers, is when they make a phone call to your business.

So you have to ask yourself: do you want to make money from the call or do you want it to be free? Do you want your customers or clients to be impressed that you are investing in them right from the start or do you want them to be annoyed that you are trying to monetise them right from the beginning of the relationship? A lot of customers will be aware of the numbers that are free and those that they get charged for.

What are the options?

  • Geographic or local numbers: These numbers are tied to a specific location, for example 020 for London 0161 for Manchester. If your business is local then you should hands down go for one of these numbers as your customers will be local and will know from the number that they are calling that you are local as well. The charges for these calls are typically 13p per minute from landlines and from 3p unto 55p per minute for mobiles. Most consumers will find that calls to these numbers are included in their bundled free minutes on their home phone contracts.
  • Non-geographic numbers: 0870, 03 etc. These numbers can be used from any location and easily be moved from one location to another, for example if your office moves from London to Glasgow you can keep the same number. These numbers cost the same to call from a landline and a mobile phone. These are split into various different categories, which we delve into below.
  • Freephone numbers (0800 & 0808): Start your relationship with your customers or clients in the best possible way by giving them a free telephone call. These numbers are largely know by consumers to be free. Recent legislation now means that these are free to call from mobile too – meaning your customers aren’t having to pay out in order to speak to you.
  • 03 numbers: 03 is the newest range introduced, and were brought into circulation for a host of different reasons, chief among them was the need to encourage businesses to switch over to more accessible numbers where the public understood the costs involved. All 03s are charged at a local rate, and they are gradually becoming the norm among businesses. Some 03 numbers are restricted use (0300 numbers are designated for not-for-profit organisations only, and 0370s are only for those with the corresponding 0870), but 0330 and 0333 are available to all and are especially of interest to new businesses looking to get a memorable telephone number.
  • 084, 087 numbers: These numbers are complicated when it comes to charges, and there still appears to be confusion around how much will be charged when you call. The service charge starts at 0p and goes up to 13p per minute while the access charge varies from one provider to the next – meaning consumers are often sceptical of dialling. For some businesses, this is considered a bonus (especially seeing as some of the service charge can be paid back to the company), but overall these numbers are falling out of favour.

For most businesses, a local or geographic number will be the one to go for but if you are a large business you will probably go with a freephone number. If you are a niche business or self-employed or a small business you might go for a personal number. Be sure to do your research and get quotes from as many different providers as you can, making sure to check the terms and conditions.

If you or your business would like to help your business take the next step by purchasing a memorable telephone number, visit Number Supermarket.

Previous columns:
All you need to know about the latest Ofcom changes
How a simple change of telephone number can make a big difference to your business