I cannot stress enough that a small business, especially a start up business, should never go near long term contracts for phone solutions.
There is no benefit to you, the savings are generally negligible, the drawbacks are substantial, locking you into a service that may not work for you for a long term.
So here we are going to look at a day 1 set up for 2 types of people, all options provided here can be replaced in a couple of weeks, Months, you can even use them long term, but there is no major cost impact if you do need replace a few weeks down the line.
So our 2 people are
- Continuity Focused
- Operations focused
Remember, this is just day 1, so what is your goal day 1 and how do you want that to benefit your business long term.
- Mobile phone solution – Continuity Focused
NGN (non-geographic number e.g. 0333) with call routing to mobiles (quite an expensive option, and requires messing about with mobile phones), but I have that number wherever I go in the future, while VoIP will have you believe that they offer all the benefits of this, what they don’t offer is the cost benefit and generally they provide it in a more expensive way.
It does have call charges for inbound calls, and outbound calls you would need to withhold your mobile number.
You also need to make sure you manage the call routing and voice mail effectively, so setting on the mobile phone need to be change especially for diverting to voicemail (takes a few minutes on each phone), you would also need to enable call waiting on the mobile devices.
Some £30-40 nokia classics is all you need for this.
The benefit here is that my mobiles can be PAYG or Cheap 1 month rolling contracts, and I’m not paying out hefty line rental. I also maybe only need 3 or 4 mobiles as part of my “day one solution” dependent on what my business actually does so we are only looking to keep ourselves moving and available for communication while we make a decision for what we need going forward.
This solution is more ideal when you are moving office or moving into new residence, and you just need some voice services but you don’t know what you need.
This then offers a disaster recovery option with or without the Non-Geographic Number.
A lot of the time, a VoIP provider will up sell the solution as “can re-divert numbers in a few seconds when the lines go down”, but the calls still need somewhere to go.
- VoIP package solution – Operations Focused
1 month soft phone rolling contract package. Zendesk offer something quite good for this, they also provide a trial version to test it out before you buy. So with something like CRM, it is also a part in parcel package.
Zendesk might not be right for you, but the reason I like them is that you can try something that is a 1 month rolling contract before you buy it…. 1 month rolling contract in my book is try before you buy.
The downside to Zendesk though is long term, without the CRM benefits if that isn’t good for your business, you do pay for both incoming and outgoing calls with no benefit to paying for the incoming calls without CRM, which is not good for some businesses. The other downside is as they are soft phones, its difficult to set up your router to manage traffic efficiently.
Something like the offerings from NFON is quite good as well, 1 month rolling contract but you need to be wary of the price as they do not advertise this on their website, and there are physical device requirements for some of their packages so additional costs involved upfront.
But provided the devices you purchase from them are cheap and generically offered, Yealink, Polycom, which most providers support, if you do move away you do not need to purchase handsets again.
For rental in this scenario, £7-£10 per month per handset is fine.
The handsets themselves, £80-£120 is fine, common misconception with handsets, generally they don’t do anything. So, you can pay several hundred pounds for a Cisco Equivalent but get no real benefit out of it.
Anyway, total cost for this is very low considering there has been no Commitment made, and if it doesn’t work you bin it all off. If, however, you jump straight into VoIP solutions, broadband, Managed ISP service (email, website/domain hosting) and web development, or phone lines and PBX, you have kind of committed quite a big spend to something that may equally not give you what you want short or long term.
But as a cheap knock something together and “get your business moving solution”, its not that bad an idea and you may quite likely find, that it suits your business well for quite some time.
In any scenario, because we are 1 month rolling contracts, the rental is not wasted, so you would have paid that amount anyway on a long term contract, but now you can communicate effectively when moving office or setting up a new office, without locking yourself into a costly agreement that can negatively impact your business.
In the past I have knocked together the mobile solution listed above in about 1 hour for Health Care services for about 10 or so handsets, it was a LOT more complicated as we had to route calls via another locations ISDN service first, then pass the calls down the VoIP side if the broadband was available, only to the mobiles if the VoIP channels were full.
What we have listed on this page are very simple solutions by comparison, and a few smaller locations and businesses have used all of these service options without complaint, for one such example this avoided a very expensive and shoddy lease agreement which we cover on the next page.