(VOIP = voice over IP)
Having supported small businesses for several years , what sticks with me when evaluating their IT environment are two extremes. One extreme is not spending enough money on basic IT infrastructure. This ends up hurting your business financially due to things not working. The other extreme is the assumption that to have reliable IT you must spend a certain amount of money and it’s never questioned. Typically multiple times higher than needed in money is spent and with a solution that doesn’t help the business as much as it could or should. I see this commonly with phones.
Communication has changed in 20 years
Phones are one of the most vital and often used pieces of equipment at any business. Typically they have a direct impact on the businesses workflow and ability to be fully productive. Because of this, once a business has them in place, they do not want to mess with them. This is likely in fear they might break or have just come to accept that whatever cost they are paying is worth it.
I would argue that the cost your paying is worth it, since they are required. However I would challenge you to save money and increase reliability along with functionality by switching to voip phones.
Let’s say you have non voip phones with your local AT&T and a fax line. 5 phones were installed from them and a fax machine you bought at Office Depot. You are paying for 3 lines at $80 each and your phones can call extension to extension. You might even be paying for a type of after hours service or long distance. Either way, about $200/month for 5 phones, 1 fax, and 3 lines is a waste of money and lacks functionality you can get from any modern VOIP system.
Lets say you wanted to go as inexpensive as possible. You can get a free VOIP system, host it in the cloud for $3.50 a month, and get a SIP provider (someone that hooks you to the telephone system) that charges 1-cent a minute. Lets say you do 8,000 minutes a month, that is $83.50 a month for theoretically unlimited phone lines and extensions. The reason being that typically paying per a minute you have unlimited lines since they want you talking as much as possible, meaning no busy signals, for you or your customers. You also should factor in the cost of some new phone hardware, but you can usually get basic voip phones for $50 each, so in our scenario about $250 up front. Even if you have to factor in outside help to set it all up, within 6 months to a year, your saving hundreds of dollars in expenses after that and boosting your businesses productivity.
So your cutting your phone bill to a fraction of what it was, and based on the VOIP system you are running, gaining tons of functionality and possibly boosting productivity. Some items that no business should be without from their phone system:
*mobile apps (IOS and Android)
*chat and web conferencing
I say this due to first hand seeing how much these can increase productivity and with most businesses any increase makes a significant difference in profitability.
In a future post I’ll talk about more specifics on what solutions I would recommend or have used to cut out expensive phone bills, implement redundancy for a vital business tool, and help SMB’s achieve better profitability. Below are some possibilities for more reading.