Business phone systems depend on the size of your business and how you communicate.
Credit: Phone image via Shutterstock
Choosing a business phone system sounds simple enough. In reality, it's one of the toughest decisions small business owners have to make. On one hand, traditional landline phone systems provide what's arguably the most consistent and reliable form of communication. On the other, mobile phones and Internet-based phone systems can save small businesses a lot of money. At the end of the day, choosing which phone system to use largely depends on the size of a business and its communication needs.
Business phone system options
Businesses have several phone system setups from which to choose. One is landline only, but a similar option is Voice Over Internet Phone (VoIP). VOIP is an Internet- or cloud-based phone systemthat uses an Internet connection instead of physical wires to establish phone communications. VOIP has nearly all the same capabilities as a landline, such as voicemails and faxes, and can be used with both traditional phones and mobile phones.
An even more common option is a combination of landline and mobile phones. With the latter, employees use company-owned cellphones, participate in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, or voluntarily use their own devices with their personal wireless accounts. Given the high costs of using both a landline and mobile phone system, however, many companies find that it makes no financial sense to pay double for phone services. Instead, these businesses drop their landline altogether and rely solely on their mobile phones for phone communications.
Editor’s Note: Considering a business phone system for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, Buyer Zone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:
Value of a landline
For companies with an office or store and with more than one employee, relying strictly on a mobile phone can be risky.In this case, a landline phone system is the most advisable option.
"Our advice to clients is not to switch from an office-based phone to a cellphone exclusively," said Fred Manuel, general partner at Alliance Cost Containment in Ann Arbor, Mich., a company that works with businesses to reduce costs in all areas of operation.
Manuel said that while his focus is helping customers cut costs, using a mobile 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.
Voice Over Internet Phone(VoIP)
If you want to save on phone costs, you might consider the Internet-based VOIP phone system.
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 landline. “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 cellphone as a backup if your Internet phone system is down is a good idea.
Our sister site, Top Ten Reviews, has ranked the best VoIP phone systems. Phone Power, ITP and VOIP.com were ranked among the best.
Mobile phone only
Other experts think that if you are the sole employee of your business, then a mobile 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 cellphone 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 cautions that if you are using your mobile 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 deductible.
If you do end up using only a mobile 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.
Originally published on Business News Daily.