Business Phones Lines: What You Need To Know
Figuring out how many phone lines you need for your business can be difficult.
Before you buy business phone lines, learn more about business phone lines.
Most small business owners don’t know where to start when looking for reliable and affordable business phone lines. That’s OK, that’s what we are here for.
You can start your journey with our complete assessment tool. At the end of your assessment you’ll have the option to get free help! That’s right; we will gladly work with you in person or on the phone for a no charge consultation (offer limited to USA customers only). The only fees that are paid are to the actual carriers themselves (Verizon, ATT, etc) when you sign up for their services.
We really do understand. Business phone lines can seem simple; get a phone line, get a phone. But the fact is today, they can be quite complex while being very powerful tools.
Just to simplify the topic of business phone lines a bit, we’ve clarified a few things. Think of this as a basic rule of thumb guide to walk you through how many business phone lines you need, demonstrate some examples of phone needs in different industries, and explain the type’s business phone service you can choose from.
Decide how many phone lines and telephone numbers your business needs
1First when thinking of business phone lines consider the bigger picture.
Your business phone lines and phone number is what your customers will use to call your business. That’s important.
You’ll use this same phone number for the caller id on all of your business calls. Please understand that your outbound caller ID can be programmed to all of your business phone lines regardless of the amount of business phone lines that you have.
Now the only question that remains is how many phone lines to get and how many actual phone numbers do you need?
Here are three steps to find the simple answer:
Compare how many employees (on site and remote) you have today with the number of employees you predict to have one to two years from now.
Consider your company’s size in comparison to the industry you are in. Some businesses, for example a small restaurant, can get by with at least two business phone lines. However, if it’s a more popular restaurant more business phone lines will be needed. Nothing is worse than your customers calling for a reservation and the lines are constantly busy.
A medical clinic, a Doctor’s office, a Medi/Spa however, likely needs five or more business phone lines.
Next step, consider budget alongside financial forecasts and cash flow reports. Use a fiscal assessment to figure out how much money you can realistically invest in small-business phone lines. Let’s call this operation expense. Do not try to cut corners with operational expense. By doing so, it’s ultimately your customers that suffer in the long run.
These are the things that help make purchasing decisions and prepare you for additional questions. This is when we can really help you. We are well versed when it comes to providers regarding activation fees, upgrade possibilities, service level agreements (SLAs), and above all non published price breaks and discounts!
If you called the carrier directly, before signing on any dotted line we can take a look at things and confirm all is well. Calling the business phone line provider directly can be the quickest route to consuming your operation expense budget.
If you haven’t done so, take our assessment tool and get our free help (offer limited to USA customers only).
How do how other small businesses set up their phone systems?
2Small businesses come in all shapes and sizes. What worked for this business, may not work for that business and so on. There really is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to an ideal communications system.
Here are some basic guidelines of what we have seen work for various small businesses.
Professional Office. The majority of professional offices such as accounting firms, legal firms, tax preparation companies, staffing agencies and the like operate with anywhere from 10 to 150 employees. Often companies like this require a minimum of twenty three (on a “PRI” / Primary Rate Interface) business phone lines. These phone lines enable sales calls, faxes, online collaboration, and employee teleconferences.
Small Office. Small offices or home offices (SOHO) usually start off searching for the cheapest business phone lines which tends to makes sense at first. However, it can be costly to make changes later. The small office business owner may work alone at times or have two or three employees. Because of that, he or she only needs three to five business phone lines.
Retail. A small retail business may have five employees on site at all times. At a popular retail store, customers will call for information about store hours, orders, return policies, and more. There is a need for many outgoing calls as well. So a retail business would do well with a ten business phone lines.
Healthcare. Medical offices, regardless of their size or amount of employees, involve a lot of communication. Patients need appointment reminders, patients call with questions about appointments, medications, and bills. Healthcare practitioners must also call patients, pharmacies, and vendors. A popular small business healthcare company needs to consider the types of calls, as well as the abundance of calls. This sets the minimum number of small business phone lines needed at 23.
Hospitality. The hospitality industry comes in all shapes and sizes. This sector includes hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. These environments benefit from at least a five business phone line system to handle reservations, orders, and customer service calls. However, larger and more popular hospitality business requires a minimum of 23 business phones.
In all of these scenarios, it does not mean you will have a mess of phone lines and handsets. A lot of phone systems can be set up to route to multiple mobile phones, automatically answer the inbound call and route calls in accordance with your custom preferences and more.
The next thing to consider is the types of business phone lines available.
Today, there are basically three types of business phone lines: analog, PBX, and digital. Analog, also known as the landline, is becoming less common. However, for some businesses an analog line is still critical for fax machines, elevator emergency lines, 9-1-1 emergency response, and more.
Voice over Internet Protocol “VoIP” services, have also evolved and are very powerful tools.
Does your business need a toll-free phone number or service?
No problem. Toll-free numbers, also known as 800-numbers, can be routed to your local business phone number and your phone system takes over from there! Customers today still feel that the business they are calling is credible when they dial a toll free rather than a random long distance phone number or a phone number from an unfamiliar area code. Depending on the type of business you are in, it is something to consider.
The next-generation: digital and fiber business phone lines.
With digital and fiber voice for business, you can connect your phones to your internet connection. Very few to no traditional business phone lines are needed. Please note, this is where the type of internet connection becomes critical and we do not mean your “download” speed. Depending on your type of business, upload bandwidth is critical. We will get back to that later.
If you haven’t yet done so, start our assessment tool and we can help you in person or on the phone to sort through all of this quickly and effectively. It’s what we do.
Digital and fiber business phone lines allow for more flexibility, which means you can modify, add or remove phones as needed and often via a simple dashboard that you login into. You can change your business hours, you can add new employees quickly, you can re-route former employee’s settings, and you can often handle many more calls at once.
You can use standard VoIP phone packages that work with standard phones/devices or you can buy special phones with added features that even connect calls to your mobile/cell phone so you can take office calls on the go.
Speaking of “VoIP”, if you are already familiar with this term, then you have loosely heard of digital and fiber business phone lines. Most use the acronym for the sake of simplicity. The letters stand for “Voice over Internet Protocol,” and VoIP service became possible with the advent of high-speed internet access and the subsequent digital age.
With digital phone service, phone calls no longer need to traverse traditional and/or copper phone lines. Rather, the calls are transformed into digital signals that are transmitted using a high-speed internet service.
Business owners like this phone service for its adaptability and scalability. However, it does require a proper setup to function in the way your business needs it to.
This would basically be a cloud-based phone system, and you can make/receive calls as long as you have an internet connection. You can use multiple devices such as a mobile phone, laptop, tablet and more.
Sounds pretty robust right? Take our assessment tool and let’s get started building your solution. There is no cost for standard consultation (offer limited to USA customers only).
And finally, how much money do small businesses typically spend on phone lines?
3First, these are monthly operation expenses; there is no way around that fact.
Just like every business is different, monthly costs can also vary quite a bit.
The reasons for price differences are simple. Things like the type of phone lines needed, the amount of phone lines needed, and the types of carriers / providers in your area and more. This is where we shine; we know where the best deals are already. Working with us lets you get back to work and eliminates the need for you to be the voice and data, information systems/technology expert.
Depending on the demand (amount of customers in a given area) and the supply (yes, there only so many phone numbers and physical lines available) analog landline phones in a typical market, for example a midsize city, average about $85 per month… per phone number. This can really add up if you need multiple phone lines. PRI’s with 23 phones can be in the neighborhood of $400 per month (that’s a good value compared to 23 analog lines). Digital / Fiber /VoIP solutions can be roughly one third the cost in this same market. You can estimate approximately $39 a month. The key is negotiation with the carrier (what we do) and often you can get much better pricing if you sign a year or more contract.
If your business is already up and running and you now feel that you are paying too much.
4The chances are very high that you in fact are paying too much. Maybe up to 35% too much.
Have a digital copy of your phone bill / internet bill handy?
There are free and discounted, fast and affordable business communications services from large scale providers that are not publicly advertised.
Email it to us at [email protected] and we will analyze it for you for free. We can assist you with selecting your business class internet, voice, data, cloud and cellular services. Click here to contact us there is an option to upload your phone bills and other files there.