When Grand Rapids-based Buys Chiropractic PLLC made the switch from traditional landline phones to a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) system, Aaron Buys and his staff were a bit hesitant.
It can be daunting to completely overhaul the telecommunications system at any small business. But with the rising costs of traditional service, Buys was questioning what exactly he was paying for.
“Traditional telephone service was getting more and more expensive and offering nothing new to show for it,” Buys said. “We made the switch in (the) interest of cost savings and the overall improvement in service quality.”
Buys is not alone these days in opting for new phone technologies like VoIP or smartphones. Nearly 79 percent of American businesses use VoIP phones at one location, according to the Santa Clara, Calif.-based market research firm In-Stat. That’s up from 42 percent in 2009.
But while many Michigan small businesses have started to wrestle with switching to VoIP, that decision soon could be accelerated because landlines may not be an option in the future.
The reason: The Michigan Legislature is considering a bill that would pave the way for phone companies to phase out offering traditional landline phone services by 2017 and replace them with VoIP and other alternatives.
Senate Bill 636, sponsored by Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, also would put in place safeguards for certain areas where Internet-based communications aren’t a reliable option.
For the uninitiated, VoIP is a method of making phone calls that uses the Internet instead of typical landlines. While apps such as Skype or Google Voice allow users to place calls from their computers, most small businesses opt for services that integrate IP phones, which look like traditional office phones except they plug into an Internet connection with an ethernet cable.
They offer a variety of pluses for small-business owners, including cost savings, mobility and scalability.
VoIP technology is quite frankly an equalizer for small businesses trying to compete with their larger counterparts in the marketplace.
VoIP technology can give a guy working out of his garage the same feel and functionality of a Fortune 500 company with very little upfront costs and a lower monthly investment.
Without a doubt, the biggest attraction of VoIP is its low cost. Because it’s Internet-based, many hosted systems require little to no hardware investment other than routers, ethernet cables and the phones themselves.
“The nice thing about VoIP is that the hardware needed to install a feature-rich system is considerably less than that of a landline phone system,” Jones said.
VoIP is especially cost-effective if you have employees at satellite offices or telecommuters working from home, because calls between company phones are handled via the network rather than over the public phone lines. So if your bookkeeper wants to take his VoIP phone home during a polar vortex and make calls, he can plug it into his home Internet connection to make and receive calls on the company lines at no additional cost.
Some VoIP service providers also have introduced mobile apps that let workers make and receive phone calls on their mobile devices using the company phone numbers. That allows employees to protect their privacy by not giving out their phone number and lets the company protect the relationship with the customer. If an employee leaves, the calls are simply routed to the company rather than to the departed employee’s cell phone.
Many small-business owners are finding that type of mobility, as well as the scalability of VoIP systems, attractive. Adding new extensions can be as easy as connecting a VoIP-enabled phone to the network and adjusting some software settings on the phone and in the cloud. Typically, the service provider will handle those changes at little or no charge.
If you lose your connection, the phones on your workers’ desks will go dark, though most providers automatically push incoming calls directly to voicemail or reroute them to the user’s mobile phone.
VoIP adoption continues to grow rapidly. As broadband becomes more widely available in rural areas and telecommuting continues to grow, VoIP will become the predominant phone service for businesses over the next decade, analysts predict.
The number of telecommuters is expected to rise 21 percent to 3.9 million by 2016, according to San Diego-based Global Workplace Analytics, which tracks teleworking. VoIP and other mobile systems will help small businesses compete for talent by allowing them to hire the best person for the job, regardless of where he or she lives, analysts say.
David Stutzman of Relevant Networks describes VoIP as a “completely different animal” from traditional phone service, which might intimidate some users from making the switch from traditional phone systems.
Chiropractor Buys admitted he and his employees’ were hesitant to learn a new system that was integral to his business’ everyday operations, but his office has been happy with the benefits.
“I think VoIP is easily the best-kept secret in the telephone/communications world,” Buys said. “The versatility and value it provides to me as a small-business owner are far superior to that of our old system, and I’m very pleased that I made the switch. I would encourage people to at least explore it as an option, no matter what type of business they run.”
About VorTech Services, INC
VorTech Services, INC, is a leading provider of Hosted Phone Systems (“Hosted PBX”) and Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) services for emerging growth and mid-sized businesses based in the United States. VorTech makes buying or upgrading a business phone system extremely cost effective, easy to manage, and even reduces monthly telecommunications expenses. Our platform offers better scalability and business continuity options compared to customer premise based phone systems. We provide the lowest total cost of ownership by eliminating the need for customers to buy expensive hardware and software that usually resides in a phone closet. Expensive service contracts are also a thing of the past. VorTech seamlessly interconnects multiple offices and mobile workers with our national footprint, and we have the perfect calling plan to meet virtually any business requirement.
Original Article by Lauren Allen