This is the second part of my previous column on capable but inexpensive phone systems for small businesses.
Here are some pointers when choosing a small business phone system as we discussed yesterday:
- Use a phone system that can support both plain old telephone lines (POTS) and Internet lines such as the ones from Vonage and Cablevision. To minimize cost and maximize performance, use POTS for about a quarter of the inbound phone lines. POTS are very reliable and compatible but more expensive than Internet phone lines. Use Internet phone lines for the rest of your lines. These are typically fixed price, roughly, in the $30 a month range with unlimited calling, but there can be some rare compatibility and uptime issues.
- If you need international dialing, make sure that your Internet lines will support calls to the countries that you are calling.
- Some systems have limits on the maximum number of local extensions that are a little low. Choose a system that can support or be upgraded to support at least twice the number of extensions that you are starting with. What if your business grows rapidly?
- Make sure that the system can hold at least 15 minutes of voicemail per user. 30 minutes is better. There will always be one fellow who never deletes his voicemails and fills up the system.
- If you use a standard CD player to provide on-hold music, you will find that it will stop working after a few weeks. Regular CD players, it seems are not designed to run for more than a few thousand hours. A radio will last longer but make sure it stays on its station other wise instead of on-hold music, you will have on-hold static. The right way to do this is to buy a CD player/changer designed for providing on-hold music, but these will be a few hundred dollars.
- Use a system that can use generic phones such as the ones that you can buy at Staples or Walmart. This will allow you to use very inexpensive basic phones if you wish, especially in utility locations such as doorways, copier rooms, bathrooms, storerooms, etc...
A. G. Bell: "Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you"