I have several friends that run small businesses here in Orlando, and the prices they pay for office phone numbers are insane! Most don’t know about cloud based VOIP providers, and they’re a perfect solution for almost every service business anyhow since you can integrate your office calls with your cell phone. I figured I’d write a quick article covering the basics for any business owner in Central Florida looking for a business phone service, and maybe save some money by using one of the services I use.
Popular Orlando Business Telephone Systems & Providers
Most business owners in Central Florida that I've talked to, are usually using the main local providers like Verizon, Century Link, Verizon, ATT, Voxtell, etc...
Some of these actually have good plans if you get in at a good price point, but other price gouge the hell out of you, and don't even offer some of the nice features of a VOIP platform. Features like, automated answering and extension routing, text or email voicemails (for when your busy but still need to check for important messages), smartphone integration with an app (easily get your office call when you're on the go), all incoming faxes translated to email, and on and on.
Sure, there are situations where a local landline is good to have, but those situations are becoming less and less prominent year after year. Let's face it, most of us don't even have a primary business landline service anymore, and typically use our cell phones. The only trouble we run into is, we need a second line (or more) for business, so we don't always get business call on our cell phones, and so we can have calls routed to the office during the day if we have employees.
But what about texting and outbound calls? That is normally the first issue a small business turned "small office business" (when a business grows into needing an office), and it's very common to have your main business line stuck in a contract with a provider that doesn't offer the features you need.
So what to do instead to avoid this from the beginning?....
I use and love a few VOIP providers, and buy all my business lines through them. Depending on what I'm using the lines for (I do some advertising for other companies, so not every situation is the same for me), there are pros and cons to some of the providers, but for most small businesses, you can't go wrong with Grasshopper.
They're a large cloud based business phone service provider, but with an affordable entry level plan that doesn't break the bank to set you up for future success and expansion. They make it super easy to add unlimited extensions (so you sound like a bigger company than you are if that's your thing), and make call routing and automated answering come across MUCH more professional.
Custom greetings and transcription features are enabled in one click, and the flexibility to add lines or forward calls based on what extension a customer selected is pretty much unlimited and easy to use.
Anyone, with no prior experience, can have a full featured business line setup in less than 30 minutes, complete with automated greetings, department extensions, and even a free iphone app if you happen to be using just your cell phone at the time. Their plans start at $12/mo per line, with one line included. You can add or delete as many lines as you like quickly and easily within your online control panel. Best of all, Grasshopper is month to month... NO contracts!
Small Office Phone System Must Have Features
Use Any Phone Number For Future Expansion
- Toll Free Numbers (use these for billboard ads, display advertisements, etc...)
- Local Numbers
- Keep Your Existing Number
Sound Professional Whether Your On The Go Or In The Office
- Custom Main Greeting (automated greetings in case you can't answer on the first ring or don't have an answering service)
- Unlimited Extensions (every department can have a unique extension, and these can go to the appropriate person... For example: perfect for contractors if they have estimators out in the field "press 3 for estimates...")
- Music On Hold (keep customers occupied with custom hold music that's relaxing, or play an advertisement for this month's specials)
- Name Directory (if you have a a larger business with lots of employees, make each person searchable by name in case a customer or sales rep loses someones direct extension)
- Unlimited Call Handling
- Conference Calling
- Voice Studio
Stay Connected On Your Cell Phone And Add Unlimited Employee Phones
- Call Forwarding
- Call Screening
- Voicemail & Fax to Email
- Business SMS
- Read Your Voicemail
- Store Hours / Directions
- Call Routing Extensions
- Fax on Demand
Other Inexpensive & Specialized Business Phone Solutions
As I mentioned in the beginning, I've used several voip phone solutions for different businesses, and some work better for special situations than others. For instance, if you want to track a billboard advertising campaign for something like your brick paver company, you might want to use s special vanity number just for that to see your month over month ROI. Or maybe you're running Google Adwords for your hypnosis clinic in Orlando, and want to see the true performance of adding call extensions to your campaigns with a call tracking number... Or perhaps you started a weekend side business like stucco repair, and only want a business line to deliver calls to a specific ring route... There are several situations where different companies work well for those needs, and I talk about them in a bit more detail here if you're looking for s a specific type of number service:
How To Get A Vanity Number For Your Business
The Top 5 Best Phone Services For Small Businesses (especially for advertising)