It's 5:30 a.m. and your cell phone rings. The last person you want to hear from is a client. Unless you're Norman Gavin. He has a 24-hour answering service that directs calls to his cell phone when no one is in the office. His cell is always with him, he says, “because it's necessary to take care of the customer.”

While Gavin, who owns Homecraft Remodeling on Long Island, finds success with his method, Laura Benjamin, a Colorado Springs–based consultant says, “There's got to be a happy medium between being always responsive and available 24/7 and totally ignoring your responsibilities.”

She suggests setting boundaries. In a recorded message, tell callers you'll call back within a reasonable amount of time. Let them know your office hours or when it's best to reach you.

“It's important to respond to people quickly but not important to be Johnny-on-the-spot,” Benjamin says. “People will take advantage of you if you don't draw the line.”

But Gavin doesn't mind the calls, and even at a pre-dawn hour he usually calls back within minutes. His attitude is, “The one job where I have a call at 5:30 a.m. on how to work the newly installed shower and I call back at 5:35 — that woman will recommend me forever.”