Choosing a telephone system for your business
Business owners are faced with many important decisions in order to make in order to effectively and efficiently run their company. A wrong choice when picking a product or service can be detrimental and expensive and can result in a loss of clients, productivity, or profits. Choosing a knowledgeable and reputable phone system vendor is key to your business’ success.
A new phone system may be considered long-term business investments. The proper phone system can last for many years. The wrong phone system will likely need to be replaced or upgraded, which will cost additional money. Phone systems are an integral component of any business, as they allow for communication both internally and externally with associates and clients.
Comparing different phone systems may seem like an overwhelming task, but by choosing the right vendor and effectively communicate your needs, they will be able to properly guide you through the process of choosing the right system.
Assessing Your Business’ Phone System Needs
Before you begin your search for a phone system vendor, you should assess the current needs of your business, as well as try to determine what you may need in the future. Vendors will educate you on certain details, but predetermining what you want can help them point you in the right direction.
Because there are so many options and features available in phone systems, it is important to think about all of your possible needs. You will also want to be able to answer any questions a phone system vendor might ask you in order to help you choose the right system and features.
Here are a few points to consider:
• Lines and extensions – What is the current number of employees at your company today? How many lines do you have from your phone carrier? How many fax machines, modems, and credit card terminals do you have?
• Future expansion – Do you plan on expanding your business and hiring more employees? It is recommended that you try to forecast expansions two to three years ahead, this will save you both the time and money of having to install a new phone system to fit your growth vs. simply adding on to your existing phone system.
• Accessories and options – Every phone system has a wide variety of features; some are included and some come with an additional cost. Having a good understanding of the features your business will require can help you estimate total costs, as well as which phone system will fit your needs.
What is VoIP and do I need it?
A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system calls over the Internet rather than using traditional landlines. VoIP systems can greatly benefit an office that is currently paying a high monthly phone bill due to long-distance charges.
• Internet connection – VoIP systems require a broadband Internet connection. The connection must also be able to handle the added traffic that will be produced from incoming and outgoing phone calls. A VoIP service provider will be able to test the capabilities of your network before a VoIP system is installed.
• Power outages – VoIP do not run through separate lines like traditional phone systems. This means that if there is a power outage and your Internet connection goes down, you will be unable to use your phones. Your service provider may be able to supply backup power so that you will not lose your phone connection in the event of a power outage.
• 911 calls – Because VoIP uses the Internet to send calls, it is difficult to geographically locate where a call is generated. This can make it difficult to properly route 911 calls and locate a specific address so you should discuss this with your VoIP system provider.
• Security – VoIP calls are sent over the internet so it is possible for hacking to occur. Security options should be discussed with your VoIP system provider to ensure the confidentiality of your phone calls and privacy against eavesdropping.
Phone System Costs
Phone System costs may include the system itself, handsets, optional accessories, optional features, wiring and installation. Ultimately, how much you pay for a phone system will depend on which system you choose, the number of employees you have and the features you add to the system outside of what is included. Phone system costs are often displayed as the total cost per employee or user.
Leasing and Financing Options
If you don’t want to use your capital to make the purchase of a phone system, there are many vendors that work with financial institutions to provide both financing and leasing options. This will allow you to use your operating expense budget to install a new phone system. Ask your vendor about terms, percentage rates, and buy-out options of the lease. Some companies will offer no money down with terms of 12,24,36,48, and 60 months with buy-outs of $1 or FMV (Fair Market Value).