Apr 26, 2012
LOS ANGELES—You’ve probably already heard that the FCC is fighting to prevent bill shock for mobile consumers. The FCC has mandated overage alerts for voice, data and international roaming charges. The deadline: now.
Now consider this: 70 percent of small businesses have come to rely more on mobile in the past two years, according to a recent survey from eVoice, a virtual phone system. As eVoice sees it, small business owners can still feel lost with spikes in mobile phone plans and increasing pressure for small businesses to go mobile.
Mike Pugh, eVoice small business expert, can offer insight on how small businesses can outsmart their phone carriers by using a virtual phone system. Here are five top tips for virtual office and mobile phone users:
1. Know Your Plan. Make an informed decision and stick to the contract timeline before making the decision to switch carriers. This will save you about $350 per line. Make sure you do your research a few months before your contract is up and find the best phone plan that fits your budget, Pugh says. If you’re in the middle of a plan and think you’re paying too much, then figure out if you’re paying for minutes and data that you’re not actually using. Look into downgrading your plan instead of switching.
2. Negotiate. Use your negotiation skills as a small business owner and apply it to your cell phone bill. Carriers are aware of their customers’ frustrations and the recent press around increasing service plans so they’re keen to keep you if you give a good argument, Pugh says.
“Pull together at least three of your past bills and highlight rising cost concerns from unexpected fees to taxes. Then, call customer service and ask for a better deal,” Pugh says. “It costs companies less to negotiate than lose a customer all together so cell phone companies most likely will have retention departments for the purpose of offering perks, deals, and additional discounts. Don’t forget to also mention competitors’ deals.”
3. Love VoIP. This is where eVoice comes into play. See, most virtual phone systems like eVoice offer VoIP apps. Therefore, consider adopting a virtual phone service for your business. That, says Pugh, means that whenever your phone is connected to WiFi your calls are transferred from your network to the Internet—and that means free minutes. Pugh is right when he says VoIP can drastically reduce the number of minutes used on every billing cycle and is a great solution to keep mobile costs at a minimum.
4. It’s a family business (when it comes to your phone bill). Pugh suggests evaluating your plan and deciding if a family plan is more cost effective than having separate plans for each employee. He says most likely it is. Family plans can also be less expensive than business plans.
5. Know Your Budget. Pre Pay. Pay-as-you-go phones typically cost 10 cents per minute plus a small daily access fee each time the phone is used. It’s like a cell phone in training wheels and a smart option if you’re on a budget, Pugh says. Just make sure the plan you choose allows you to roll over any minutes you don’t use to the following month.