Communication is an important aspect of running a successful company. That’s why it’s critical for small business owners to take their time when looking for and customising their phone systems. It can be difficult to know exactly what type of phone line is best for your business and how many you’ll need to run it efficiently at first.
We’re here to run over the most important factors to consider.
Consider the areas you are struggling.
When your small business phone line isn’t tailored to your needs, it’s difficult to get the most out of it. Having a clear idea of what you want from your system will make your operations run more smoothly. How many lines do you think you’ll need? How many different phone numbers does your business need? What kind of phone will you be using to take calls? How many calls will you take per day on average?
Consider these points first.
- Consider how many employees your business currently has and project how many you may have in two years. As your business grows and scales, you’ll need more lines, so it’s always a good idea to plan ahead and include a few extra lines in your service plan to say future proof.
Take into consideration your industry. The amount and type of business phone lines you’ll require is largely determined by the nature of your business. Restaurants, for example, typically require only two lines, whereas doctor’s offices and medical clinics typically require five or more lines to handle and make hundreds of calls per day. A call centre or sales department might require 20 to 50 lines.
Consider your financial situation. Examine financial projections and cash flow statements. Consider how much money you can realistically invest in your phone service, and keep in mind that the basic line option isn’t always the cheapest. Upgrading to IP or virtual phone services is sometimes the more cost-effective option. It also never hurts to ask service providers about activation fees, upgrade possibilities, service level agreements, and price breaks.
Consider Your Industry
When it comes to setting up an ideal telephone system, small businesses come in all shapes and sizes, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Here are some examples of what other small businesses have found to be successful options.
Small offices or home offices: There are rarely a flood of calls for small businesses and sole traders who work out of small or home offices. Even with two to three employees, small businesses are likely only communicating with clients or vendors on a basic level and one at a time, necessitating only one phone line or sometimes two.
Retail Business: A small retail store usually has five or more staff members, while larger chains may have dozens on the job at any given time. They’ll need to take and receive calls from customers, other stores, vendors, or the company’s headquarters. A two- or three-line setup is normally suitable fo retail business.
Healthcare/Dental Surgeries: Medical offices, regardless of size, necessitate a great deal of communication. Patients call to confirm their appointment and inquire about medications, insurance, and billing. In turn, healthcare providers call patients, pharmacies, and vendors to remind them of appointments, fill prescriptions, and get test results. We would suggest that at a minimum, a medical establishment should have 5 phone lines.
What are the costs?
Your budget as a small business owner isn’t exactly limitless. The cost per line is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a phone system. The cost of a monthly phone line varies greatly depending on the type of phone line and the number of lines required.
If you decide that an analogue landline phone system is the best option for your communications, you can expect to pay around £60 per month per phone number in a typical area. If you only need one phone number, this is probably doable, but the more lines you add, the higher your monthly bill will become. A VoIP solution is almost half the price, at about £30 per month for a basic system.
VoIP systems are often better quality as well as being cheaper. However, if you want to be able to connect your VoIP phone system to the PSTN network and make and receive regular analogue phone calls over the computer you will also need to invest in an SIP trunk.