When choosing a phone system, very small businesses need a solution that is easy to set up and use. It's for that reason and more that we recommend Ooma Office as our pick for the 2019 best business phone system for very small businesses.
Unlike larger organizations, most very small businesses don't have the luxury of an onsite IT staff to handle all of their technical needs. Since they will be the ones installing and maintaining the phone system, it is critical that the phone system a very small business owner chooses for their office or store provides the level of simplicity they need.
Ooma Office is specifically designed for very small businesses. The system is simple to install and easy to use. It can be set up by anyone, not just those with IT experience, and running in minutes.
In addition, the phone system should be easy to move. Often, very small businesses are not locked into a location long term. They may open up shop somewhere only to find a better place somewhere else months later, or they may outgrow the space they are in and need to move to a larger location. The phone system should be able to move with them.
Scalability is also important. It should be a simple task to add more lines as needed. When you bring a new person on board, setting them up with phone service should be an easy process that you can complete on your own, without the help of an IT staff.
A plus for very small businesses is that the system is compatible with all phones. If you already have analog phones that you want to use, you can easily connect them to the system using a Linx device. If you want to use IP phones, they can be plugged directly into your network. Ooma Office also has an impressive mobile app that allows you to make and receive calls from your business line wherever you are.
There are several key features that very small businesses need to make sure the phone system they choose has. Their business phone solution should offer flexible conference calling, the option to forward calls to any device, automated attendants and voicemail.
While Ooma might not have all of the features and tools that its larger competitors have, it had the ones very small businesses will find the most valuable. Ooma Office has one-time equipment fees that start at $200 and monthly fees of $19.95 per user, per month.
To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology, as well as a comprehensive list of business phone systems, on our best picks page.
Editor's note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.
Ooma Office's costs are broken up into two parts: one-time hardware costs and monthly service fees.
- One-time costs: The starter package of a base station and two Linx wireless devices is $129.97. Each additional Linx device is $50, and each office expansion unit is $100. Office expansion units are needed when you connect more than four analog phones to the system.
- Monthly user fees: The second half of the cost equation is the monthly service fee, which is $19.95 per user. With this, each employee gets their own dedicated phone number, plus the ability to set up and participate in conference calls and send and receive online faxes.
There is also a monthly fee for your phone numbers. The first number is included in your service; there is an extra fee for additional numbers. Local numbers are $9.95 per month. Toll-free numbers are also $9.95 per month. However, they only include 500 minutes of calling. Each additional minute is 3.4 cents. There is no charge for number porting.
You can use any type of phone you want. If you want IP phones, you can purchase them directly from Ooma. Ooma has Yealink and Cisco phones that range from $70 to $400 each.
Ooma Office includes a 30-day risk-free trial. This allows you to test out the system to ensure it fits your needs.
Ease of Use
What makes Ooma Office an ideal phone system for very small businesses is how simple it is to install and use. It takes just 20 minutes to set up.
The main component of the system is a base unit, which is a full router capable of prioritizing voice data and directing traffic to ensure reliable phone service. Ooma Office also includes Linx devices, which connect analog phones to the system. You can connect up to four Linx devices to the base unit.
Ooma Office works with both analog and IP phones. Analog phones connect via the Lynx devices, while IP phones are ready to use after being plugged directly into a local area network port.
After activating your account via the Ooma online portal, you select a new main local or toll-free business phone number, or a temporary number if you plan on transferring over a current phone number. Once that has been assigned, you set up the system's hardware by connecting the base unit to a high-speed modem. You then plug the AC adapter into a power outlet and either plug an IP phone into your network or plug an analog phone into the base unit. When this base unit turns blue, you can immediately start making and receiving calls.
The types of phones you use determine the number of users who can connect to the system. The system can only support 20 analog phones, and to accommodate that many phones, you will need three expansion base units. However, if you are using IP phones, you can connect as many as 200 devices to the system.
You configure the system through the online portal. This portal is where you assign employees extensions and phone numbers, set up the automated attendant, and create ring groups. The portal requires no extensive training, so anyone can update and maintain it.
Though it doesn't include every feature other provider offers, Ooma Office has many of the features small offices would find most valuable. This includes standard calling features, like voicemail, call transfer, call log, call park, music on hold, extension-to-extension calling, and dial-by-name calling.
There is also a virtual receptionist that answers your incoming calls and virtual extensions for employees who work outside the office.
The Ooma Office conference bridge comes standard for all users. With the conference bridge, employees can host conference calls with up to 10 participants for no additional charge.
All users have access to the Ooma mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. With the app, you can make and receive phone calls from anywhere as if you were in the office. In addition, you can use the app to listen to and manage voicemails, access co-workers' extensions, transfer calls to another extension or voicemail box, and direct-dial customer support.
The biggest drawback of Ooma Office is the upfront hardware costs. Few other cloud-hosted systems require you to purchase the type of hardware that Ooma does. Depending on how many employees you have and the type of phones you are using, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1,250 in initial costs. However, most of the other systems make you use special IP phones, which cost at least $70 each.
Another possible downside of Ooma is that it lacks the sheer variety of features that larger competitors offer. If you want every feature that's out there – such as call screening, missed-call notifications and video conferencing – Ooma probably isn't for you.
To gauge the type of support customers can expect, we contacted the company numerous times by phone and email, posing as a small business owner interested in phone systems.
During our interactions, Ooma representatives were helpful and friendly. They answered our questions clearly and thoroughly. Each representative we dealt with followed up several times via email, asking if we had additional questions, providing videos that showed how the system operates and informing us of several promotions.
Support is available by phone Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. You can also contact support via email and live chat 24/7.
For users of the system, Ooma offers a variety of support options on its website, including video tutorials, FAQs and troubleshooting.
Ready to choose a business phone system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Business Phone System Buyer's Guide
- The Best Business Phone Systems 2019
- Best Business Phone Service
- Best for Small Businesses
- Best Virtual Phone System
- Best for Call Centers
Editor's note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.