With a reported half million annual business start ups in the UK, many are prone to making simple mistakes in the early days, leading to losing business, and reducing the amount of revenue they could be generating.
For those going through the business planning stage, or considering doing so in the future, we recommend you to reference these when you’re looking into your business telecoms requirements.
The Worst 7 Telecoms Mistakes
1) Mobile Only
You’ll probably see this one happening all around you with local trade people; carpenters, joiners, electricians, and even mobile beauticians.
They set themselves up, business cards, company sticker on the vehicle, flyers, brochures and all the shebang that goes into marketing, and the only way to contact is via a single mobile number.
Two instant problems are created with this:
a) Statistics show that over 30% of people do not trust a company with only a mobile number
b) It only gives you a single voicemail for business and personal calls and gives the wrong impression to potential customers
If you think that (b) is an easy workaround by adding a second mobile for business use only, you’re still going to be hindered with problem (a) with 30% of your potential customers not trusting the number.
2) The Home Phone Only
There’s a high rise in home business start-ups, and along with that comes the issue of using the home phone only. Similar to the mobile only issue, you only have the one voicemail, but above that, you cannot switch the business off at the close of the business day.
Caller ID may be of use to let you know when your mum’s calling, but you won’t be able to tell if you’re answering to a potential customer or taking a cold sales and marketing call at nine in the evening. Take a couple of those, answer the phone with the wrong tone, and you risk losing business.
After a few months, you’ll be contacting your supplier looking for a second line, and changing all your materials, but the home phone number will no longer be a private listing.
Above the lifestyle interference from inundated calls, you might find that if you decide to move, the number can’t be relocated with you.
3) Lengthy Contractual Agreements
Does free installation for a 3 – 5 year contract agreement sound familiar? It certainly sounds good at the time, but take it up and you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot later.
Now is not the time to lock into a long-term contract as industry prices are generally decreasing.
Give it two years, and you can almost guarantee you will be paying more than what’s available. If you’re locked into a long-term contract, facing cancellation penalties, it’s a guaranteed regret you’ll have.
4) Non-geographical Numbers
An 084 number may have the professional business look, but they’re far from suitable to every business. First problem you need to know is that the regulations for their use are due to change in June of this year (2014).
Second issue with this is customers calling the numbers from mobiles. A warning message is issued informing the customer that they’re calling a premium rate number that will cost higher than the normal per minute charge rates, and that at point, statistics show about 40% of callers will hang up the phone.
0800 Freephone numbers will also add significantly to your overheads when called from a mobile.
5) Future Planning for Growth Requirements
Whichever number you decide to use, you need to ensure it is portable. There’s no point paying for telecoms, using it in your marketing, only to find that in two years down the line, your number is terminated.
What about expansion?
Are you planning to bring in staff in the first year or two, and will they require a telephone? If you do plan to bring onboard employees, you need a telecoms package that’s flexible and scalable to meet your needs.
You’ll probably find in that case that the PBX will have limitations and higher costs, which to make your telecoms more cost effective then the hosted cloud solutions, a high speed broadband connection might be your best option.
6) Using Only a Number Provided by a Fully-Serviced Office
Up there with the rise in home based businesses are the businesses that are developing fully-service office space to accommodate the new business start ups. Not a bad business model as there’s plenty of people in need of it, but the problem is that the offices are designed for start-ups.
Over the long-term, if this is in your business plan, be sure to look into your services small print about what’s included and your rights when you move premises.
There are some serviced offices that provide you with the office number, but you’ll find that it’s locked into the service and when you do leave, the number is not released with you.
You need to start again.
Call forwarding can be an option, but serviced offices know exactly how important their numbers are to businesses and call-forwarding costs can be expensive.
7) Using Skype
Skype has some tremendous features, and do offer great cost savings to new businesses. One big problem though is to use the number, the caller needs to be using Skype too, and not every customer and business will have the software installed.
The numbers aren’t portable either, so when you eventually outgrow your call usage, and require a more extensive telecoms package, you’ll need a new number.
The telecoms industry is evolving and costs are reducing. Take a careful look at all your documentation, read the small print, and choose your option carefully.
Your decisions now can carry longer term implications and impact your potential revenue.