Every business needs a phone. Deciding whether to have a landline, Internet-based phone service or cell phone depends on how large your business is and how much communication you have with your customers.
Avoiding the cost of a landline by exclusively using a cell phone for your business calls can be very tempting for a new business. Before you make the decision, however, you should consider whether the savings are worth the sacrifice you may have to make.
Value of a landline
For companies with an office or store and with more than one employee , relying strictly on a cell phone can be risky.
“Our advice to clients is not to switch from an office-based phone to a cell phone exclusively,” said Fred Manuel, General Partner at Alliance Cost Containment in Ann Arbor, Mich., a company that work with businesses to reduce costs in all areas of operation.
Manuel said that while his focus is helping customers cut costs, using a cell phone can cost more in the end because it can be frustrating to customers who can’t hear you clearly on the phone.
“What you’re saying to your client is that you care more about saving money than delivering good service and you may be sending the message that you really don’t have the money for an office with a land based phone,” Manuel told BusinessNewsDaily.
If you want to save on phone costs, you might consider an Internet-based phone system, called Voice Over Internet Phone (VoIP).
The savings realized from a VoIP phone service can range widely depending on the size of the business, said Manuel, who also said the technology has evolved over the last few years. “The reliability factor is way up,” he said.
VoIP systems can support a fax machine (as long as it’s digital, not analogue) and, for the most part, can be used with the same phone hardware as a regular land line. “A business could save anywhere from $50 to thousands of dollars a month,” he said.
Manuel warns that your Internet phone service is only as good as your local Internet Service Provider, so if your Internet service is not reliable, you may want to reconsider. Having your cell phone as a backup if your Internet phone system is down, is a good idea.
Our sister site, TopTenREVIEWS has ranked the best VoiP phone systems. They rank Phone Power, ITP and Vonage among the best.
Cell phone only
Other experts think that if you are the sole employee of your business, then a cell phone as a business phone could be the way to go, not because it’s cheaper than a landline, but because you will mostly likely have a cell phone regardless. Using it exclusively will eliminate the cost of having the additional landline.
“It can be a good way to keep the costs down, especially if you’re the only person in the business who is taking calls,” said Luanne Mayorga, Manager of the Illinois International Trade Center at the College of DuPage in Lisle, Ill. “The other benefit is that you can take it with you.”
Mayorga, too, suggests that you make sure you have a reliable service provider.
Mayorga warns that if you are using your cell phone for both business and personal calls, you should be careful when claiming it as an expense for your business. She suggests you keep track of what percentage of your calls are for business and therefore, tax deductable.
If you do end up using a cell phone, you will want to set up a way to send and receive faxes via your computer. You can do this by purchasing software for your computer or by using an email fax service that can cost between $10 and $20 a month.