Cost Comparison: Virtual Receptionist Service vs. Full-Time Receptionist

Receptionist service cost comparison

Someone must answer your business phone – people are calling! 

You get calls from customers, partners, leads, vendors, employees… and spammers, scammers, and time wasters. Whether you get two or two dozen calls a day, someone has to be manning your phone line.  

Traditionally, this has meant hiring a full-time in-house receptionist to sit at your front desk. Or, even worse, you’re answering your own phone, which takes you away from your work. But these aren’t your only options anymore. 

These days, more and more small and mid-sized businesses opt for a live or remote receptionist solution.  

Cost of a Full-Time Receptionist 

A full-time, in-house receptionist typically works an 8-hour shift. Their hours are usually between 7-9 am to 4-6 pm on weekdays. Some businesses with longer hours will need multiple receptionists, after-hours coverage, or to accept they won’t have a receptionist available during their full hours. 

According to, the typical receptionist’s salary falls between $34,699 and $44,003 a year, averaging $38,865. That’s approximately $18.69 an hour.  

Wages can be impacted by many factors, including the state, the population of your local area, the level of experience you require, training, etc. 

Additional Full-Time Receptionist Costs 

Salary isn’t everything. Like all employees, hiring a full-time receptionist comes with several additional costs. 

These costs include: 

  • Benefits 
  • PTO 
  • Operational costs 
  • Overhead 
  • Turnover and hiring costs 

When you hire full-time staff, you must provide them with the benefits, tools, training, and resources necessary for them to succeed. You have to provide them with breaks, hardware, and software. You have to give them somewhere to sit. These costs can add up fast if you aren’t careful.  

Then, sometimes your receptionist leaves. When this happens, you have to start all over with recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and training new staff. And it takes at least a month, often more, for new staff to get up to speed with a new company. And all that… it’s expensive. 

Cost of a Receptionist Service 

A receptionist service, on the other hand, has a very different cost structure. Instead of paying an annual salary (or salaries), you pay for the time your receptionist team is on the phone.  

Pricing will vary, but most receptionist services offer a price based on minute bundles, such as 100, 200, or 500 minutes. At Abby Connect, we believe in pricing transparency, so we communicate our pricing clearly and consistently and don’t have any hidden fees. We offer receptionist services for as low as $329 a month. 

Different receptionist services will offer different levels of support, features, and prices, so you’ll want to evaluate each one individually.  

Trying to pick a virtual receptionist service for your business? Our free checklist will help! 

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One of the best advantages of a receptionist service is the reduced overhead. You don’t have to worry about benefits, HR, overhead, or training. Your service has all the details covered. This is not only a reduction in cost, but also a reduction in stress.  

It’s also worth noting that, generally, hiring a full-time receptionist is a commitment. You’ve hired staff and there are costs associated with firing that staff. A receptionist service, on the other hand (or at least at Abby), is a month-to-month agreement. You can cancel or change your terms at any time. Many businesses hire a receptionist service seasonally, when they’re getting a lot of calls and are at their most busy. 

Virtual Receptionist vs. Full-Time Receptionist: Duties 

Of course, a virtual receptionist service isn’t the exact same as a full-time receptionist. For one, they aren’t in your office so they can’t cover your front desk. They also can’t perform some typical receptionist duties like filing and patient or client follow-up.  

Instead, you get 24/7 call-handling management. It’s like having a phone-specific receptionist who’s always awake and always available. This is why many businesses have both – using a receptionist for in-business needs while hiring a receptionist service for overflow calls, after-hours coverage, or full-phone management.

Here are a couple of key receptionist service and full-time receptionist duties: 

Virtual Receptionist  

  • 24/7 phone coverage 
  • Call answering & handling 
  • Call forwarding & message taking 
  • Caller intake 
  • Appointment scheduling 
  • Blocking and filtering unwanted and spam calls 
  • Customer support 

Full-Time Receptionist 

  • Manage your phone 
  • Appointment scheduling 
  • Greet visitors in person 
  • Sometimes perform filing duties 
  • Perform in-office duties 

Benefits of a Virtual Receptionist 

A receptionist service is a cost-effective alternative to a full-time receptionist that helps a business in three major ways – with customer service, revenue, and efficiency. 

Call Handling 

When you hire a reputable receptionist service, you get access to receptionists you don’t have to train. They’re equipped with top-of-the-line equipment, training, and are usually experienced. The best services train their receptionists with a focus on crafting a high-quality caller experience. 

You also provide your service with details of your business so the receptionists sound like they’re in your office. They can take messages, answer FAQs, and often even schedule appointments. With the best services, your caller will never know they talked to an external service. Instead, they’ll come away from the interaction satisfied with their experience with your business.  

ROI – The Bottom-Line Impact 

Like we said, a receptionist service is cost-effective. It significantly reduces costs associated with a full-time employee.  

A receptionist service also helps you capture new business and retain your existing business. As your front line of communication, your receptionists help you route the right calls to the right people. Unhappy existing customers get routed to the person who can best solve their problem, and they’re greeted by a kind and empathetic receptionist who wants to help. Potential new customers get an excellent first impression. They’ll make sure to route these callers to the right person, or even schedule an appointment! 

Improve Efficiency & Reduce Stress 

If you don’t have a receptionist, there are only two things that can happen: your calls aren’t getting answered, or you are answering the phone yourself. 

The calls you don’t answer are largely lost opportunities. Potential customers are unlikely to call back, especially if their need is urgent. The calls you do answer take you away from your primary work – whether that’s legal briefs, dental appointments, house tours, or a roofing job. If you’re on the phone, you can’t be doing that work. Essentially, this means you either lose out on valuable work or end up working long hours. 

A receptionist service sorts and filters your calls for you. They’ll send priority callers or potential revenue-generating opportunities to you. They’ll filter out time wasters, answer FAQs so you don’t have to, take messages, schedule appointments, and even perform intake. It takes the admin off your plate so you can be more efficient with your time. 

Introducing Abby Connect 

Abby Connect is more than your typical virtual receptionist or answering service. We provide our receptionists with proprietary training and AI tools to ensure consistency, quality, and efficiency. So, your callers always get the best experience. 

Our receptionists are an extension of your team. Every Abby client gets a dedicated team of 5-10 receptionists and a dedicated Customer Support Manager who gets to know your business. You don’t have to worry about any surprises. We offer month-to-month plans, proactive support and recommendations, and transparent pricing. And you can access all the details about your account and call handling directly in the AbbyGo app.  

But don’t just take our word for it. We’d be happy to show you how it works! 

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Written by

Anna Taylor

Anna Taylor

Anna is an accomplished marketing professional with an MBA and certification in marketing and eight years of experience in the field. More than half of that experience has been focused on customer experience and small business growth, exploring how businesses balance human and technology solutions. Above all, Anna is committed to human-first marketing and business development, ensuring that every initiative is focused on creating meaningful connections with customers and driving long-term growth.