Owning a real estate company means needing to always be in more than one place at once.

But when you’re out of the office showing property or interviewing potential tenants, you may miss calls that would have turned into valuable leads. Every missed call means a wasted handful of advertising dollars, as well as downtime that you certainly can’t afford.

If you want to catch those calls without having to hire additional employees, consider what a real estate answering service can do for your business. Virtual offices offer all the benefits of a real office, without all the extra costs. When you can’t get to the phone, your answering service can, no matter what time of day.

Before you jump feet first into hiring an answering service, make sure the one you choose has these traits:

Live Operators. When potential clients or tenants get voicemail, or worse, an endlessly ringing phone, their first instinct is to hang up the phone. After all, they need information now, not in a week or two when you finally manage to collect your voicemails. Live operators can help reassure callers that you’ll contact them as soon as your business with your current client is finished or in the morning, during normal business hours. Callers are much happier having reached a person, and will be much more likely to believe you’ll return their call than if they left a voicemail.

Call Forwarding. Setting signs, checking properties or just having lunch outside of your office means that you risk missing important calls. With call forwarding, you can have your answering service reroute all calls to your office directly to your cell phone. Now, instead of missing a million dollar call, you’ll be able to connect with new clients from anywhere you happen to be. Even if you’re going to be away and not taking calls, this type of service works just as well to send callers to an associate.

Message Relay. Real estate professionals live and die by their telephones, but they also miss a lot of calls when they’re busy with other clients. Message relay ensures when your clients and potential leads leave a message with the answering service, you’ll be notified right away. You can choose to receive those messages via text messaging or through your email for a less invasive notification — that way you can respond immediately in the case of an emergency.

Being in the real estate business means always being on the go and being available to callers 24/7. You can increase customer satisfaction, simplify your complicated business model and even increase your market share simply by having a live person answering all your calls. A real estate answering service can be a great addition to your team, if you use it properly.