Businesses have many phone and internet options. While variety may be the spice of life, it also makes it hard to decide between option A, and B, or maybe C. How do you choose? How do you know which one is really the best deal?
When looking for the most bang-for-your-buck, speed, reliability, customer service, contract terms, and of course, price all come into play. (If you don’t know how much bandwidth or internet speed you’ll need, check out this article. It’ll help you get to the bottom of what your business needs.)
You should reevaluate your internet and phone service each time your contract comes up for renewal. Some things may have changed since your last contract. New technology, different rates, or maybe a new service provider. Also, Internet service providers are hoping that your contract will be on auto-renewal. Their goal is to not compete for your business ever again.
Think about it like you think about your cell phone. After your two-year contract, you look to the latest and greatest, right? You compare all the features on new models. Same goes for your Internet and phone service providers.
When reviewing your options, what should you base your decision on? Do you need to add, swap or discontinue a feature? Should you just go with the one that offers the most bandwidth for the cheapest price?
We spoke to John Leete, one of VC3, Inc.’s CIOs (Chief Information Officers), he gave us the scoop on reviewing your contracts.
Internet Service Provider Contract Review
The Internet makes the world go around, this we know. But outside of listing pros and cons about your current provider, what can you do to get the most out of your next contract? The great news is there's someone who can do the legwork for you.
“Your IT professional should seek out a third-party internet/phone consulting firm to review your current contract. The firms make money by signing you up with a service, so they talk to the providers for you. They explain that they are also dealing with companies x,y, and z -- who can offer me the best deal? The consultant lets them bid it out for your best options."
Don’t be fooled into thinking that because your contract from 3-years ago was great that it’s still the best. They don’t want to have to compete for your business. They might send you end of contract notice, in hopes that you won’t look elsewhere. Or they may have set your contract to auto-renewal. This is their way of tricking you into keeping the same old system. They don’t want you to upgrade to the new system because might cost less today.
"The consultant is important because most companies will send you a notice of an expiring contract. The notice will say we know that your contract is almost up, would you like three more years for the same high price? And you should say no. What were you paying for your cell phone three years ago - about twice as much? In 3 years, there's new technology.
Most providers will lock you into 3 years. This 3 year will have X amount of lines and X amount of data for a per month price. Have your IT professional start considering a consultant and a service provider about six months before your contract expires.”
Are there cases where your current service contract is still the best option? Rarely. But why not review your options each time to make sure? Make your decision confidently with competitive quotes to back it up.
Phone Service and Bill Review
Most Internet packages usually come bundled with your phone service. It’s generally easier for everyone involved. Keep in mind, however, that this is not your typical land-line or cell phone bill. Business lines have all kinds of ins and out that you wouldn’t find on a personal phone bill.
Do you know roughly what you should be paying each month? What benefits are you getting? What benefits SHOULD you be getting?
“As far as phones go, it’s a different beast [than the Internet], because not everyone is going to have their own phone line. Having 100 phones, doesn’t mean you will have 100 phone lines going into your building. You are going to have a switch that has several lines, and it bounces between them.
You dial 9 to say to the phone switch "hey, I need a line", and it says "okay, I have one." If everyone in the building tried to pick up the phone right now, to make a phone call, someone would get the short end of the stick. They'd get a busy signal."
How Do I Pick a New Phone Service Provider?
"When picking a new provider, evaluate how many lines you currently have. How many 800 numbers and what kind of long distance package you use. There isn't a standard recommendation like with the Internet because phones are personal to each business’s needs."
Ask your employees what their biggest issues, if any, are with the phones. Then ask yourself, how could the company be more productive? Would different phone capabilities fix the problem?
"We do still suggest sending your latest bill over to the phone/internet consultant. They'll compare different companies for the best price, just like your internet.”
The Internet and phone contract you select for the next three years can be a significant financial commitment for your small business. That being said, dive in. Allow yourself enough time to make a sound choice that includes your operational needs and budget allowance. Use your consulting firm to your advantage. Your IT support team can help you sort through all the information after the consulting firm provides price points and additional insights.
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