Buying new small business phone systems isn't nearly as simple as it used to be!
Unfortunately, we're well past the point that most businesses will be able to send someone over to Office Depot to pick up a few phones. Today's modern unified phone systems tie into your network, requiring more complex hardware and software solutions to keep them running.
That means working with vendors and getting quotes, even for relatively simple phone system upgrades. And, inevitably, in a quickly-changing market like modern telecommunications, there are going to be vendors who are more up-front with you than others.
So, we've got a few things you should be discussing with your phone system vendor, to ensure the quote you receive is fully accurate and without unpleasant surprises when the final bill is tabulated.
Four Things You Need To Discuss When Getting A Quote for Small Business Phone Systems
1 – Installation Fees
One of the first and most common “gotchas” when dealing with phone system purchases are the installation fees. A lot of modern telecommunications equipment, especially advanced systems like PBX units, will require expert installation. These fees may or may not be discussed up-front.
When you're gathering quotes for phone system upgrades, always make sure the company you're dealing with is being totally up-front about installation fees and other add-on conveniences. It's all too easy for a company to “forget” to mention this until it's time to sign on the bottom line, or perhaps not even then.
2 – Mandatory Service Contracts
Another trick to watch out for is mandatory service contracts – companies often try to lay claim to the right to work on your hardware. While this can be a perfectly fine arrangement if everyone is onboard with it, it's another example of a costly extra that sometimes doesn't get mentioned until it's too late.
If your telephone system or internet service provider is also going to be your primary technical support contact, make sure this is discussed and negotiated before the buying process goes too far. Otherwise, your firm may end up paying for a support contract you don't want or won't actually use.
3 – System Lock-In
Most modern telephony systems are based around using one provider with one set of unifying software running your network. This is normal these days. However, it's something else that must be laid out ahead of time so that you can make a smart purchasing decision. Buying a little-known brand without widespread support could end up causing big problems down the line, if they go out of business or change focus.
Before agreeing to a single-vendor solution, talk with your vendor and do your own research to find out how reliable the manufacturer is. Look for phone systems from companies with good customer service records, and that appear to be financially stable.
4 – Upgrade Or Exchange Policies
In the years ahead, your telephone system is going to be a constantly-evolving thing. As unified communications technologies continue to tie phones and networking together, you'll probably be looking at a series of upgrades as you continue to expand your communications systems.
Talk to your vendor to find out what sort of upgrade policies they offer. Many offer used hardware trade-up solutions, or possibly even include discounted yearly upgrades. This is a fine area to negotiate, as most businesses are happy to give a little in upgrade costs if it means guaranteeing a customer for years to come.
Smart Buying Pays Off For Years Ahead
These days, you need to be future-focused when purchasing new office telephone systems. Very often, it's not enough to simply cover your needs today – you should also be doing as much as possible to ensure your new phone system will continue to be a good investment as your telecommunications setup grows.
If it's time to upgrade, just let us know where your business is headed and we'll help make it happen!