Saving $$ on Your Company’s Phone Bill
Every business today needs to continue to cut costs wherever possible and at the same time do a better job communicating with customers (or prospects). The following two questions will determine if this article can help you…
1. Do you have (or is it available) high-speed internet service at your business? (Most require DSL, cable or fiber-optic service.)
2. Are you still paying a local phone company for regular phone lines, including fax lines?
If you answered yes to both of these, the following information could save you hundreds to thousands of dollars each year … and give you new options to give your customers the best service possible!
Voice Over IP or “VoIP”
This is a relatively new type of voice communications that has been expanding over the last 10+ years. VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” Because your voice and fax service rides over your internet service, it is very important to have high-speed internet. Of course, this rules out many in rural areas (sorry folks).
Here’s an overly simplified explanation of how this works. You subscribe to a VoIP service (there are a number of companies available to choose from today (see end of this article for a comparison of just some). You can elect to have both your voice and fax service all tied into the same setup. Or, you could just shift your fax service over. The more you switch, the more you will save. With the service, the VoIP supplier gives you an internet connection to their phone/fax system. They may supply you with a small modem-style device that hooks into your internet and you can connect regular phone or fax to it, or you can buy new VoIP-ready phones (even multi-line devices) that are programmed to connect to their system. The VoIP supplier becomes your phone network, including voicemail, call forwarding, etc., all controlled by you over a web page interface. It's really pretty easy. We all have seen the “Magic-Jack” or Vonyage ads on TV in recent months. That’s an example of a single line version VoIP for home or small business use.
Here’s a Few Examples of VoIP that has helped us:
We, here at Summers & Associates, decided to go with a company called VOIPO (http://www.voipo.com). Here’s what we paid and what we get: We were able to take advantage of a special offer of around $130 (plus tax) for a two-year service. We get one phone number. It can be either a local number you choose, an 800 number you choose, of your current phone number (if it can be “ported” to take with you… the service will check for you). With the one phone number we actually get two voice lines riding on the same number, that means two calls can happen at the same time, in or out. This includes unlimited calls (in/out) to USA/Canada. For another $36/year we get a “virtual number” which becomes our fax number. All in-bound faxes are sent to an email address of our choice as a PDF attachment. So, in this case our cost for two (2) voice lines and one (1) fax line was less than $180 for THE ENTIRE YEAR. For our clients such as SNA or the Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund, we have 2 virtual lines for each, one for voice and one for fax at $36 each per year. The voice line is routed to our regular Summers & Associates number and the fax is emailed to the email of our choice. That’s $72+ tax FOR ONE YEAR. That includes unlimited minutes and faxing. What a deal! And (we sound like a “vegi-matic” commercial here...), checking the VOIPO website today reveals they are again offering a limited time special… GET 2 YEARS for $129! (A similar offer to what we got.)
Another example is one of our wholesale nursery clients that needed a better way of faxing their availability list to about 40% of their customers. They have DSL for internet service and have been paying both a monthly charge for their regular fax line and extra for so many long-distance minutes per month. For this company, we chose RingCentral’s (http://www.ringcentral.com) fax service. They paid $49.99 plus tax for a new unlimited fax service with an 800# and also “ported” their old number to RingCentral. With this setup, they will email their availability to their fax customers by sending one email with the availability as an attachment through RingCentral’s fax server. They subscribed to an unlimited fax minutes offer, so no extra per page costs. And now, when they receive a fax on either their new 800 number or their old fax number it is sent to an email address within the company. In this case, more than one person sees the email, even on their smartphone. Oh, by the way, the grower has now cancelled their regular fax line with their old phone company nearly offsetting the $50+ monthly cost. Net results: saving over three (3) hours of fax preparations per week, all fax customers get the availability quickly and better customer response on receiving their faxed orders or inquiries… all this while saving $$ monthly.
Your challenge: How much are you spending (in labor or costs) for your phone and fax systems today? These are just a couple examples of VoIP services out there today. Which one you choose depends on your needs; however, you should consider moving at least a portion of your communications to VoIP and save some dollars!
One additional note: The old saying “you never want all your eggs in one basket” applies here too for your business phone/fax communications. So, best practices would guide you to have at least one regular phone line, in case your internet service goes down. With VoIP services, if your internet services goes down, your receiving system (voicemail and fax) for receiving, just like your email servers, are in the cloud and not at your office, so when your internet is back up, any messages or faxes will be there waiting for you. And, if the system options allow, you may have gotten all this on your smartphone already!
For more information: Following are links to a couple of comparison charts on just some of the VOIP providers. Be sure to check out each site for special offers! If we can share more details of what we have done for Summers & Associates or SNA, just give us a call at the SNA Office: 678-809-9992. And remember, when you call you will be experiencing the SNA’s $36/year voice line!
NEXT Advisor.com's VoIP Services (Review)
TopTenReviews.com - 10 best VoIP Service Providers