By now, you are probably aware of the many benefits that VoIP has over traditional phone service. But before you take the plunge, though, you should know how much it’s going to cost. There are many factors that go into the equation. How many users you have, the hardware you use, the needs of your business, and special features can all affect the price of your phone service. Today, we’re looking at a number of these factors and how they should be weighed when making a decision about your businesses future phone service.
1. Number of Users
The first thing to consider is how many people will be on your network, and how many of them will need a dedicated outside line. With VoIP service, unlike copper-based systems, it is possible to multiple users connected to the same line. That means, you could use a single line for an entire department like accounting or the mail room, with internal extensions connecting to individual users. Obviously, a larger number of sites will also mean more lines as well. That means the number of sites your business has is also part of this calculation.
2. Phone Model
Not all phones are created equal. Every phone model has its own advantages, disadvantages, suite of features, and price tags to match. Generic models may be cheap, but will only have a basic suite of features. High-end models will have all the bells and whistles, but you will pay a price for it.
The kind of features to look for include:
- 3-Way Calling
- Automatic Callback
- Call Transfer
- Call Forwarding
- Speed Dial
- Call Waiting
- Inside/Outside Ringing
Which of these features you prioritize will depend on the size, structure, and needs of your business. Figure out what you need first, then find a phone model to match. Save money by avoiding features you don’t need and only paying for what you do.
4. Add-On Phone Services
In addition to the features of the handset you choose, you need to consider what add-on services you’ll need. The most basic service you’ll get from any phone system is the ability to place and receive calls. Anything beyond that, however, is usually an add-on and will increase your overall costs. Some common add-on services include:
- Call center
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- Enhanced 911 services
- Integration with CRM, ERP or other internal systems
What add-on services you need will again depend on how your business is set up.
If your business relies on phone service, you don’t want to have to shut down for the day because of a server glitch. VoIP services can be hosted in a number of ways, many offering layers of redundancy to keep you online through anything. Of course, exactly how this is implemented and how robust the redundancy plan is can affect the overall cost of your plan. It is therefore important to identify how important this feature is to you before you buy.
6. Required Training
Any time you are implementing a new technology, it is important to train your team on how to use it. Failure to do so could mean a lot of downtime as your users fumble about, trying to adapt their old workflows to the new tools. Sometimes, making this kind of switch can be a net negative for the business if your employees find the new tools cumbersome or never learn how to use the new features to their fullest. Before you buy, you need to consider how many users will require training and at what level. Training can come from your provider, or handled internally to reduce costs. In either case, however, you’ll need to consider the time needed to train your current employees and how you will onboard future ones.
7. Annual Maintenance Requirements
Finally, just like any technology you rely on, VoIP systems will require some regular maintenance to keep them operational. The cost of this maintenance will vary based on a lot of things. These include your internal IT resources, how often maintenance is required, and how often you upgrade or update your systems. If your internal IT team is qualified to handle your VoIP systems, this cost can be greatly reduced. If they are not qualified or you don’t have an IT department, however, you can usually schedule regular maintenance and support services with the provider at a small cost.
Estimating Total Cost
Once you’ve figured out all the features you need, you can start figuring out how much you’ll need to spend. Typically, phone service pricing is done on a per-handset basis. Typically, you might expect to see a low-cost system with generic handsets cost about $200 per handset. In the mid-tier, with typical features like conferencing, interactive voice mail systems, and basic redundancy, you might expect to pay $400-600 per handset. A high-end system with all the bells and whistles can cost upwards of $1000 per handset.
To find your total cost for service, you simply take the per handset quote and multiply it by the number of handsets you will be supporting. For example, if you are quoted $500 per handset and need to support 30 users, you can expect to pay $15,000 for VoIP service.
VoIP can be a significant investment for small businesses, but the benefits are well worth it. Plus, after the initial set-up costs, it can be much cheaper to maintain and far more reliable than a traditional phone system. For more information or a consultation on the needs of your business, call itPBX at 844.500.1174 or reach out to us online.