What Does it Cost to Hire a Part-Time Receptionist?

Sean Lund-Brown

Most businesses find themselves in need of someone to staff the front lines on a full-time basis, which is how most receptionists are hired. However, what if your business is only open a few days a week, or what if you have someone you can rely on part of the time and just need a little more support? It could be a good time to invest in a part-time receptionist—but at what cost?

Money is always the big question for companies when it comes to doing anything, even when it results in improvements and business growth. That’s the first thing to remember—hiring employees is not an expense, it’s an investment. And when you do it right, it’s one with a great return. 

A receptionist today is a modern Jack-of-all-trades, so it’s an investment that’s well worth making, no matter how you go about it. Of course, that’s what we’re here to figure out—how should you go about it, and how much will it cost you? There are several factors to consider, but it starts with understanding your options and knowing that there’s no one set price you can be quoted here. 

What it costs you to hire a part-time receptionist may be different than what it costs another business. For example, a small office may be able to hire a part-time receptionist for $13 per hour, while a multi-office law firm may hire an executive receptionist for closer to $20 per hour. It’s all about getting what you need. And speaking of what you need, you need to remember that there is much more to the investment than just their pay. 

Before we talk about the cost of a receptionist, let’s look at just what they can do for your business. 


The value of having a dedicated receptionist 


Today’s business needs someone dedicated to manning the front lines of communication and running the office, whether that be a physical or virtual space. Even for solopreneurs and SMBs that operate largely online, a remote receptionist or virtual receptionist service can improve communications and administrative operations in the business in several different ways. You can ultimately hire a receptionist to do whatever you need, but common duties include things like:

  • Answering, routing, screening, and managing phone calls
  • Forwarding and returning messages
  • Answering general inquiries 
  • Greeting visitors in the physical office (when relevant)
  • Creating correspondence and content for newsletters, emails, social media, website content, etc. 
  • Collecting, sorting, distributing, and otherwise handling mail and shipping
  • Managing scheduling, including making appointments and scheduling meetings, etc. 
  • Handling basic bookkeeping and financial duties, including payment collection, issuing receipts, etc. 
  • After-hours phone answering and message taking
  • Live website chat staffing

As you can see, this role is versatile enough to cover just about all aspects of communications and administration for your business, no matter what you have in mind. If you need something not listed here, be sure to include it in your posting and check candidates to ensure that they can provide what you need. Plus, when you choose it on a part-time basis, it can free up a bunch of your time and still cost less than hiring someone full-time. 


There’s more to it than their salary


Yes, you’ll have to pay a receptionist to work for you. However, their pay is only one of the factors involved in figuring out how much it will cost you to hire a receptionist or any employee. Companies spend about $4,000 on the sourcing, onboarding, and training of a new employee, on average (assuming as $15/hr. salary for said employee). 

Of course, that’s for a full-time employee. If you’re only hiring someone part-time, you can expect to spend less on related expenses, including training and onboarding. Regardless, when you’re getting ready to get more help, it’s time to break it all down to see what it’s going to cost. 

Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you. In this article, you’ll find plenty of insight about the cost of hiring an employee, including the various expenses involved and things you have to factor in both now and for the long term. We’ll talk about your options and help you get a better idea of where to go from here, no matter what you have in mind. 

First up, let’s break down all the expenses and costs involved in hiring an employee. 


Sourcing/recruiting


When you hire a new employee, they don’t just magically show up at your business asking for a job. Sure, some candidates do, but generally, you’ve got to advertise that you’ve got a position available. The Internet does make this much more affordable these days, but you’ll still have to spend a little money to get postings on good job boards and ensure that people see your opening. 

If you choose to hire someone to help you recruit employees, that’s another expense to add to the list. This isn’t usually necessary for something like a receptionist, but it’s a factor in some decisions that we need to cover. Think about how much you’re spending here, as well as how you can spend less by using things like your existing website and social media accounts to source candidates or post job opportunities and find the right candidate. 


Training and onboarding


Once you choose a receptionist, you’re going to have to spend money on training and getting them ready for their role. This could include in-office training, a week of “training pay”, or something similar. Any expenses related to bringing an employee on board and getting them up to speed will go here. This includes the cost of other employees and their time spent helping or training the new employee, as well. 

You’ll want to remember that when employees are only operating at partial productivity, they are still costing you money. If an employee reaches 50% productivity by week four, they’re still going to cost you about half of their wages to keep training and supporting until they’re ready to be unleashed and left to do their job. The more effective your training and onboarding process, the less you’ll spend here. 


Salary and benefits


This is typically the first thing that people think of when they think about the cost of hiring an employee. In addition to the other expenses, you do need to factor in how much you’ll be paying this receptionist, as well as what (if any) benefits they are going to receive. 

Since they’re a part-time employee, they may not be eligible for benefits with the company, so that could save you some money. However, more and more businesses are starting to offer benefits to all employees regardless of status, so if you want to keep up with the competition, you might want to consider it. 

Regardless, determine what you’ll spend here, both on an hourly wage and any benefits, such as paid time off, insurance premiums that you cover, 401(k) contributions, etc. That way, you know exactly what to expect when you do go to hire and aren’t blindsided by something you forgot to include. 

If, for example, you’re paying a part-time receptionist $15 per hour and they’re working 30 hours a week, you’ll have a gross salary of $450. If you also cover 75% of their health insurance premium, add that to their salary. What if they contribute 2% to their 401(k) out of each check and you match? That will have to be factored in here, too. It can add up quickly, but it’s important to be aware of it all regardless. 


Taxes and insurance


We could spend an entire article talking about the complex world of business taxes, payroll taxes, and business insurance. However, that’s another topic entirely. What matters now is that you know these are costs involved in hiring a part-time receptionist or anyone for that matter. You will have to include payroll taxes, as well as any additional business taxes you have to pay for adding an employee. Make sure that you know what taxes and tax rates are relevant here, and if not ask your accountant (yes, you should have one). 

Insurance includes several different products. You’ll first need workers’ compensation coverage to protect your business and employees against injuries or damages in the workplace. Then, you’ll also have to consider the state unemployment insurance requirements for businesses and add that to your calculations. The final consideration here is professional liability insurance. Depending on what industry you’re in, you’ll need a variety of different types of protective coverage. Professional liability generally ensures that a business is covered against any potential losses, damages, injuries, or other claims. 

Make sure that you talk to an insurance agent and a financial professional to make sure that you’re covering all your bases here. 


Miscellaneous costs and expenses


Don’t forget about office space, equipment, computers and technology, and other tools that your employees will need to work. If you’re hiring remotely, this can be a much more affordable investment because you won’t have the overhead of physical office space and people can use allowances for equipment or even write them off as part of their taxes because they’re a business expense. 

If, however, you are hiring a receptionist to work in your business, you’ll have to consider the desk space, the supplies and equipment they’ll require, and so forth. You might have to buy more furniture, rearrange, or otherwise prepare the space and make room for a new employee. It all adds up quickly and often goes overlooked when hiring part-time help, but even if they’re only there some of the time, they need a space to work. 


If you only need part-time help, consider outsourcing to virtual receptionists instead 


For those companies that find themselves unable to afford to hire an employee, even on a part-time basis, outsourcing may be an alternative. This can be a viable alternative for any business that wants to save money and still get the help that they need. Virtual receptionists are great because they afford you the same benefits as an in-house receptionist (minus the physical presence) and can often handle a lot more tasks than a single person. 

Hiring a team of virtual receptionists could give you the chance to get more for your money. Outsourcing usually costs a fraction of what you’d spend to source, hire, train, and keep an employee on your payroll. For smaller companies and solopreneurs, it’s a great way to get more help without having to invest in an actual employee. 

It's also great for those who realize that hiring an employee may be more cost-prohibitive than they thought, or for those who think it could offer a more dynamic solution. If you just don’t need an employee, you no longer have to hire one anyway. Now, you can choose to hire a contractor or work with virtual receptionists to get the job done. 

Benefits here include:

  • More solutions for a lower cost
  • Professional expertise and experience
  • A customized solution that can grow with your business
  • And so much more!

If you find that you need an in-house receptionist, that’s fine. If, however, you want a more dynamic solution, this could be the way to go. What if you don’t have time to manage another employee or even deal with delegating their duties? That’s another great reason to choose to outsource—it’s all done for you, and you can focus your efforts on other parts of your business. 


Speaking of virtual receptionists, ask how Smith.ai can help 


At Smith.ai, we know that you’ve got a lot on your plate. Even the idea of hiring someone could be more than you need right now. Fortunately, that’s where we can help. The virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can handle all of your calls, messages, and other needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ll be able to get back to business and leave the details to us. 

Ask about our solutions for after-hours answering, Facebook message and SMS message answering, live website chat, payment collection, scheduling and intake, and even our temporary receptionist services if you just need a short-term solution. We’ll also work with you to create a strategy for managing it all that fits your business needs perfectly. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to help your business, from admin to communications and beyond. You can also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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