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One common way by which business owners can achieve cost savings is to get a low-cost business phone system. However, the phone system you select must be effective and reliable, as it is the main means of communication between you and your employees, customers and suppliers.
A very important decision that you must make is whether you want to have a traditional or a PSTN phone system for your business or a VoIP-based phone system as both of them have their pros and cons.
Landlines or PSTN (public switched telephone network) phones are the traditional phone systems which have been used until recently. It is only in recent years that other kinds of phone systems have come in. The technology used in landline phone systems is extremely robust and mature, which makes these phones very reliable and most users understand landline phones. However, to use landline phones, you will have to get a PBX or VoIP extension hardware installed on your business premises. Also, long distance calling is quite expensive over PSTN phone systems.
Most of the business landline packages available today come along with the line rental, which varies according to the estimated usage, so you must get an appropriate deal that will suit your requirements before committing to a long-term contract. Usually, the average term of a contract is around 18 months. So, if you sign up for something that costs more than it should, then this could impact your business negatively.
A great way to keep your business phone cost low is to watch out for deals. Depending on the size of your business, you can save a lot of money by switching from an unsuitable tariff to one that works well for you. And, this is possible if you do your research well.
Look out for bundled services. Many service providers allow you to hold all your services with a single provider at a discounted rate such as your business phone line, broadband and mobile phone plans. This allows you to cut down on dealing with serval providers and also save time and money.
Check your current landline phone plan and see if you are paying extra for features that are not essential. These add to your phone cost. While features such as 3-way calling, call transfer, call forwarding, caller ID, call barring, etc. are great to have, they could cost you dearly. Keep your landline plan very simple or make sure that you select only the features that you absolutely require to keep the costs down.
If your business needs more than one business landline, then it is a good idea to rent as many lines you require from your service provider as the greater number of lines you rent, the cheaper will be the per line cost.
When you choose your business landline call plan, think about the kind of numbers you will most likely call frequently. If your outbound call volume is very high, then you can ask your service provider to give you a discount on the types of calls you will make most often. For instance, your call plan could include the line rental, free calls to local numbers, 300 free minutes to mobile phones or if your customers are local, then you could opt for an unlimited local call plan and if your business is mostly overseas, then you could choose an international package that offers discounts on your international calls.
Several service providers offer new customers discounted packages that can offer you real savings in the first few months and are worth considering. However, you need to approach these initial discounted deals with caution on basis of the length of your contract. While these deals may be quite cheap and attractive at the start, they could work out to be more expensive in the long run, especially if you are tied into a contract that is not right for your business.
If your business is located on a large premise and there is a need for all employees to be in touch with one another, you can reduce the landline cost by making use of newer communication methods such as emails, messaging, etc. that allows you to send real-time messages without making as many calls.
And finally, if you find that a business landline is still quite an expensive proposition, then you could consider a VoIP phone system.
A VoIP or Voice over IP system routes your calls via your existing internet connection. VoIP does not require the standard PBX hardware. There are many advantages of using a VoIP phone system. VoIP offers many features that are added as extras on landline phone systems.
VoIP is quite inexpensive, as the long-distance surcharges are not applicable and it is extremely easy to route calls anywhere you want. This can be especially beneficial in the case of a mobile workforce or employees working remotely. The drawback of VoIP systems is that since they depend completely on the internet connection. If your internet is down or in the case of a power outage, your phone system will also be completely cut off.
It is quite difficult to really determine which VoIP provider is the most inexpensive because most of the providers offer different calling plans, features and international rates. However, while looking for the lowest quote, it is a good idea to consider the following factors. The cheapest VoIP phone service provider:
- Usually offers a contract and the longer the contract period, the lower the monthly rates.
- Offers unlimited calls, free long-distance and local calls will result in lower bills per month.
- Offers cheap international calling rates.
- Don’t take too many add-ons. Take only the ones you really require for the smooth functioning of your business.
So, when you’re actually deciding on the phone system, it is a good idea to evaluate the various options available along with their pros and cons before selecting one. However, often just opting for the service because it is the cheapest may not be the best route. Look for a service provider that offers a high quality and reliable service with all the features you want for your business at an affordable cost.