If you’re running a business in 2020, then chances are, you have already heard of and might even use some form of VoIP or internet phone service through your business phone line. If you’ve ever used Skype or Facebook Messenger—or any kind of internet service to make a call—you’re experiencing the power of Voice Over IP (VoIP).
Finding the Best VoIP Phones for Your Small Business
When it comes to integrating VoIP into your business, there are some factors to consider before you choose a provider. The top VoIP providers can help you lower costs, reach more customers, and even enhance your mobility and productivity. For example, the what you need to take into consideration when looking at VoIP for small businesses is very different to a VoIP service for your home.
The most important features to look for when searching for a VoIP solution are:
- Ease of operation and setup
- Reliability and customer service
- Features and customizability
- Mobile options
- Video conferencing and screen sharing
Switching to a VoIP system entails some initial costs, which are quickly offset by the savings. VoIP services can also increase the efficiency, convenience, and flexibility of your communications and help you incorporate the business tools of a larger company. Before you choose your VoIP provider, try to determine how easy it will be to adopt the system and operate it, and also if it has any specific features you need. For example if you want your business to present a professional and polished impression, such as that of a law firm, then you'll want to make sure you have the necessary features.
Types of VoIP Systems
The biggest difference in cost is going to depend on the type of VoIP service you choose for your business. There are 3 main systems available:
Similar to a website hosting plan, this means that the vendor owns the hardware, and your business leases or buys the phones. Maintenance will be handled by the vendor, too. Companies will usually charge a subscription to use the internet business phone system.
Best for: Smaller businesses
In this scenario, your business owns the hardware, which means you are responsible for any upgrades or maintenance work. This sort of setup can be prohibitive for a smaller business because of the higher initial costs of purchasing the hardware. In addition, the upkeep may require the manpower that a small company doesn't have. On the other hand, these systems can provide better options for customization and a higher level of security.
Best for: Larger businesses
With this system, the business still owns the equipment, but the vendor is in charge of set up and maintenance. This is a great “best of both worlds” option, in that it allows the customer to use their own equipment—like with the on-premise system—while still being able to enjoy the assistance provided by a hosted system.
Does Switching to VoIP Save Money?
Not only can a managed VoIP service do wonders for your business’s productivity, but it generally costs less than a traditional landline system. For medium-to-large businesses with hundreds or thousands of employees and complex software-integration needs, VoIP can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
Here are 4 ways that VoIP can save your business money:
1. Cordless Costs Less to Setup and Maintain
Whether you’re sticking with cable TV over Netflix or Hulu at home or a traditional landline over VoIP in the office, the same principle applies: cords and wires are hardware, and hardware costs extra. With a landline system, a medium or large business could easily pay tens of thousands of dollars on installing, setup, and licensing of a private branch exchange (PBX), thousands per month on line rental, and a great deal more on maintenance. With a managed VoIP there are no hardware requirements, so you can get by with only paying a simple monthly fee per user.
2. Remote Workforce = Reduced Overheads
One of the greatest benefits of having a VoIP for business is that it allows your employees to communicate through mobile phones—which makes it easier to orchestrate a remote workforce. The more employees you have working outside the office, the lower your overheads. Having fewer employees in the office on a full-time basis means you can cut back on furniture and equipment costs, air conditioning, office parties, rent, everything.
3. No Paying Through the Roof to Move or Expand
Using a traditional phone network—as opposed to VoIP—requires businesses to set up and maintain a PBX system at each office. Each time that those businesses upgrade their PBX, replace an aging system, move offices, or opened a new location requires a significant capital investment. With VoIP, on the other hand, businesses can take their audio communications with them wherever they go. Whether it’s one employee working from home or an entire company moving office, being mobile pays dividends.
4. One Communications Bill Instead of Many
The terms VoIP and unified communications (UC) go hand in hand, and that’s because VoIP lets you integrate all types of forms of communication–such as voice, text, fax, video, and conferencing–into one system. With unified communications, businesses don’t end up purchasing fax services, video conferencing, etc. from separate providers. With UC, it all falls under the one bill.
Calculating the Cost Savings of VoIP
How a VoIP phone system impacts your company’s bottom line depends on your needs. Variables include: number of users; features and third-party integrations; and optional equipment, such as hardphones. Choosing a hosted or managed VoIP solution is generally cheaper than having an on-premise VoIP, unless you prefer your IT team manage the system.
The following example is intended only as a general guide and not as a substitute for your own calculations. It is based on the RingCentral Office plan for 100-999 people, when compared to a cross-section of traditional landline plans for businesses of a similar size. Obviously, it doesn’t take into account how VoIP can enhance productivity and efficiency, further boosting the bottom line.
*Optional accessory for VoIP users, requirement of traditional landline
Unlimited calls in US/Canada
Unlimited video conferencing
Limited, pay third parties
#Varies by country. For both VoIP and traditional, calls to mobile are more expensive than calls to landlines.
^Based on prices from Xfinity’s landline plan.
No matter which way you look at it, VoIP systems are far cheaper than traditional business landlines. As the above table shows, VoIP has minimal setup costs. Traditional phone lines, in contrast, can cost up to $14,000 to setup, not to mention up to $4,000 per year in licensing fees. Small businesses that go down the traditional route can install a KSU-less system for less, although the costs of setting up the system can still reach up to $300 per user.
The following table compares VoIP to traditional business lines by cost per user per month, including yearly software licenses, unlimited calls in the US and Canada, and the cost per user per month and excluding setup costs. In both columns, cost per user falls as the number of user grows. Again, VoIP is clearly the cheaper option.
10 Advantages of Having a Virtual Phone Number
People dial virtual phone numbers just like any other number, but they actually connect to an existing mobile or office line of your choice. You may also link them to specific extensions and voice mail boxes. Here are 10 advantages of having a virtual phone number:
1. Multiple numbers: Without paying for multiple lines, you can use separate numbers for personal and commercial purposes.
2. Marketing data: Virtual phone lines supply helpful marketing data. If you use print or radio advertising, you may promote a different local or toll-free number in each ad.
3. Avoid long-distance rates: When you acquire a telephone number in another area code, clients in this region may call you without paying long-distance rates.
4. Local numbers: If you purchase advertising in a distant locale, your company may promote a virtual number without publishing the area, country or extension codes.
5. No equipment required: Compared to separate telephone lines, these numbers are easier to set up and maintain. There's no need to buy additional equipment for each number, and most virtual phone providers don't require long-term contracts.
6. Ease of use: You can quickly and conveniently manage your numbers on the Internet. It's possible to instantly purchase or cancel them at any time.
7. Avoid telemarketers: If it comes with automatic call screening, a virtual number can help you avoid telemarketers. You may use it whenever you have to enter contact details on a form.
8. Added features: These numbers often include more features than standard cellphone or landline services. They make it simple to record calls and arrange phone conferences.
9. Money savings: If off-site employees frequently call your main office, you can ask them to use local virtual numbers. This eliminates the need for you to finance their long-distance calls.
10. Brand multiple businesses: If you run multiple small businesses, it's not hard to introduce different virtual numbers and voice mail greetings for separate companies.
Get the Right VoIP System for You, Today
VoIP systems have become the norm for businesses large and small, as they provide an easy, surefire way to make telecommunications more efficient—and affordable. For small and medium-sized businesses, these savings can make a big difference. The efficiency of a VoIP system can also ease some headaches for companies that may not have the manpower to handle complicated or less streamlined communication needs. Small businesses generally don’t need some of the more sophisticated VoIP features—like video conferencing that can accommodate 100 or more participants—but the flexible pricing, ease of operations, and customer service offered by many VoIP providers can be of real assistance.