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All things phones related. Learn how we think.

Welcome to the Phoneworx blog, where you are guaranteed to learn more about how telecom services can add value and other tips to grow your business.

Save Money and Grow your Business through Lean Strategies

Lean business strategies are a hot topic. There are entire B2B companies dedicated to auditing utility bills, project management, and supply chain strategies in order to help other businesses save time and money – ultimately leading to happier customers and future growth. You see, running a lean business isn’t all about just-in-time inventory and maximizing employee efficiency – it’s also about periodically evaluating fixed cost items and looking for ways to reduce your operational overhead.

For the last four months, Phoneworx has been performing FREE business phone system checkups for small businesses in Greenville, Spartanburg, and throughout the Upstate. By far the most impactful insight we’ve gained is how often companies are overpaying for telephone services. One client in particular, had a phone bill of over $2000 each month! We’re finding that customers assume these costs are just something they have to accept – like paying taxes or hang-nails. Many also are under the belief that if they’ve signed a 3-year contract then they have no options until the contract is up.

I’m here to tell you, right now, that you are NOT helpless against the telephone company!

New VoIP technology provides small businesses with a cost-effective option to reduce telephone expense over the long term. VoIP phone systems include many additional items that a telephone service provider usually charges extra for like Caller ID, Call Forwarding, or Voicemail. Plus, a quality phone system can last you up to 10 years, if not longer – making it a much more effective investment of your company dollars. Furthermore, even if you have a contract in place, you likely have the ability to cancel or make changes at any time. Yes, you may pay early termination fees, but often times this amount is small compared to the sum of money you’ll save long-term.

So if you are like most other small businesses out there, I know that running a tight ship (i.e. being lean) is very important to your short-term gains and long-term growth. So why would you continue to pay more than you have to? Phoneworx’ Client Relationship Representatives can help you evaluate your current telephone service provider bill and provide alternatives to get your company in ship-shape!

Ask yourself, when’s the last time you took a thorough look through your company’s utility bills?

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Even more, you might need a new business phone system if…

So you thought we didn’t have any more ammunition on this one right? But just like our buddy Jeff Foxworthy, we keep finding interesting tidbits that we just can’t help but share with you! Remember, it’s about taking joy in the little things, so here is yet another top 10 things that indicate you might need a new phone system… (and the trumpet sounds) ba ba ba BAAAAH!!

You might need a new phone system if…

10. The phone server sits on concrete blocks.
9. The phone server is wrapped in a hefty bag.
8. Your phone system gets more vacation than the CEO.
7. You need a ballpoint pen to change the day and time.
6. The handset looks like a Chia pet.
5. A museum curator tries to buy it.
4. It has two adjustable antennae.
3. It only has twelve buttons.
2. The phone system was involved in a federal crime involving large farm animals.

And finally, the number one reason you might need a new phone system…

1. Your voicemail system has trouble remembering all of the messages.

What’s in your phone closet?

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Welcome

Welcome to Phoneworx

We sell, service and install business phone systems

Proudly serving Greenville, Spartanburg and the Upstate area.
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Save Money With New Technology

Are your phones more than 5 years old?

Save money with new technology

Learn how…

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Do You Really Know How to Answer the Phone?

Ok, so here’s another topic where you are thinking: “Duh! Of course I know how to answer the phone… I pick it up and say ‘Hello’.” Simple, right? Maybe not. Have you ever really thought about how you and your employees answer your company phone? Does the manner in which you do it change according to the weather, time of day, or day of the week? If so, you might need a quick phone etiquette ‘refresher’ with your team, or possibly want to look at other options to best greet your customers. You remember how important they are right? Without them, you don’t have much of a business, or at least won’t for long…
Now that I’ve sparked your interest, here are three key things to do when answering a company phone call:
1. If you are going to answer, always answer by the 3rd ring. Americans generally have a very short attention span – the quicker you can pick up the phone, the better.
2. Be consistent. It’s a good idea to develop a standard script or method of answering the phone. This helps to eliminate those “oops” moments when an important client or high-value prospect calls. Make sure your employees know what they need to say; winging it is never a good idea.
3. A friendly tone is a must. Tone of voice may be the single most important factor in how a caller perceives not only the individual answering the phone, but also your business. Tone can convey an entire slew of business qualities – whether or not they are intended.
So, what can you do to ensure that your company phones are being answered in a timely, friendly, and consistent manner? Surprisingly, you’ve got options, and don’t we all love those?!
Option 1: Take the three key items above and lay out expectations with your staff. Write out a basic greeting and tape it to your office phones – this way, employees won’t have to remember it off the cuff. Once you’ve set the standard, pay attention to how well your staff is adapting. If necessary, call your office from an unknown number to test their consistency. When they do well, give positive reinforcement. Continue to coach those individuals who might not be “getting it.”
Option 2: There are outside companies you can actually hire to answer your phones (remotely) for you. If you are a one or two man company and cannot afford to miss calls or let them go to voicemail, having someone to answer the phones live can be a comforting prospect. It can help to boost your image, legitimize your company, and both gain and retain more customers. Unfortunately, you have now entered the realm of “outsourcing” a portion of your business. There really is no way to guarantee that these companies’ employees will always be in a good mood. Furthermore, because you aren’t there with them, how confident can you be that they are consistently giving the desired impression?
Option 3: You can do what we’ve done at Phoneworx and utilize an auto-attendant – a built-in feature available on our VoIP business phone system options. Auto-attendants generally answer a call on the first ring. They are always in a good mood and can provide a menu of options, ensuring callers are delivered to the phone of the employee best suited to meet their needs. Overall, auto-attendants offer a level of consistency that cannot be matched by any “live” staffers. What’s more? You can change the greeting and message at any time, giving you exceptional control over a client’s first impression of your business.
Overall, answering your office phone isn’t quite as easy as it may appear. However, it’s great to know that you have options. So, do you really know how to answer the phone?
Until next time,
Megan
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Give Your Small Business A Big Voice

Image is Everything

Give Your Small Business A
Big Voice

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Every Budget Deserves a Great Phone System

Allworx, Cisco, NEC

Every Budget Deserves a Great Phone System

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Values-Based Hiring: One Bad Apple CAN Spoil the Bunch

Prior to my relocation to Greenville, SC, I worked in retail banking for about six years.  During that time I worked in seven different branch locations. Over the years, one thing that became abundantly clear is that hiring the right employees, although it can be incredibly challenging, is also integral to the success of any business.  
You’ve probably heard the expression that “one bad apple can spoil the bunch.” Trust me, this is SO true! If one employee out of 25 has a poor attitude or negative outlook, he or she will not hesitate to spread “poison” throughout the organization and sour the attitude of even your star employees. So what’s a manager to do?  Well, let’s start with the basics, and go from there…
Myriad factors that go in to what makes a good employee and most jobs require certain skills in terms of education, technical capabilities, and past experience. But don’t be fooled, these things are only one piece of the puzzle.  If you hire based solely on a checklist of technical and/or educational requirements – you will likely be grossly “underwhelmed” once that employee comes onboard. 
True Story: With a theatre degree, my first manager “took a chance” and hired me as a banking management trainee – a position requiring a business degree. She looked beyond my education, which caused some of her colleagues to think she was little crazy.  But she had the last laugh. I ended up being one of the most successful employees among my hiring class.  Why?  Not because I took accounting, management, or finance – but because I was hungry for knowledge, a quick learner, determined, and driven to prove those wrong who didn’t believe a theatre major could cut it in the banking world! 
Positive attitude, optimism, determination, desire to learn, and work ethic are all desirable attributes. So, what if the person you’d like to hire doesn’t have a required skill like QuickBooks or a degree in the desired field?  Don’t rule them out! 
Fact: it is relatively easy to hire an employee. Unfortunately, many times it is extremely complicated to remove that individual from your organization.  It hurts team morale, can cause distrust or fear among those who remain, and sometimes it can become a legal nightmare! So, when you need to find a replacement “yesterday,” take a step back and remember how essential it is to be patient. It may stretch your remaining office staff in the short run, but choosing correctly is worth the strain. 
Overall, you can teach someone an industry, software, or how to perform specific tasks like opening a checking account, managing website content, or even advising clients on financial decisions.  What you CANNOT teach are fundamental personality traits like loyalty, hard work, positivity, and determination. 
At Phoneworx, we’ve got a great team of employees with varied background experiences – bringing different perspectives to the world of Business Phone Systems sales and service.  We may not all live and breathe business phones like our technicians, but we are all driven to succeed, eager to learn, and committed to delivering unbeatable customer service.  So when it’s time to hire that next employee, if there’s even one thing that seems awry in terms of attitude, or you foresee potential personality conflicts between a candidate and your current employee team, you must look elsewhere. 
Hire smart. Hire for attitude. Hire based on values.
Until next time –
Megan
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Options are not optional

By reading our blog, you know that we work pretty darn hard to keep ourselves abreast of trends in the marketplace. We make every effort to share this knowledge with you – our friends and clients! Here’s a tidbit of knowledge that we recently gained through listening to our customers and prospects. 
 
If your small business provides a service or a product, it is exceptionally important that you provide your customers with options. If you cannot provide multiple options, you cease to be the central resource or the “one-stop” shop that can help them with their needs. In Phoneworx’ case, if we can’t offer a “good, better, best” set of options, we no longer hold the place of “business phone systems expert” in the mind of the customer. In order to retain the position we’ve worked so hard to achieve – being the best or only option to help with business phone system needs – we must provide options!  
 
The power of three
With so many choices available to customers, combined with the information-saturated World Wide Web, offering options isn’t a new idea. However, one must be careful not to overwhelm consumers either. I recently found an article from 2001 on Snipsmag.com. The author shares:
Several recent studies of consumer buying habits show that the majority of customers will choose the middle-priced option; when two choices are offered, 50% of customers chose the lower-priced option. When three choices were offered, 57% chose the middle option.
Indicating three options is just right. Overall, customers like choices – so make sure you are providing them!   
 
At Phoneworx, we’ve discovered, albeit the hard way, that options were the key in achieving our goal of giving the customer everything they need and nothing they don’t. Although a business owner may initially gravitate to the lowest priced option, it may not provide all the features that he needs for his business. Conversely, a different business owner might want the “really cool” more expensive option, but realize that she simply doesn’t need all the features and can get by with the less expensive option. Either way, by truly listening to customers’ needs and demands, we are improving as an organization and better positioned to “win” within our market.
 
Are you doing the same for your business?
 
Until next time,
Megan   
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The Dirty Lowdown of Hosted Phone Systems

It’s the latest buzz in telecom… a “hosted phone system.” So, what is it and why should you want it? First, I’ll explain what it is, then you can decide if you want it or not. A traditional business phone system consists of desk phones and a server (a black box about the size of your DVR at home). This is known as a PBX system, and it comes with all the right stuff like voice mail boxes, auto attendant, caller ID, voicemail-to-email, and music-on-hold. You buy this “bundled” system and you own it. Period.
 
A hosted phone system has all these features but you only need to buy the phones, not the server. Your host owns the server. Here’s what a hosted system provides:
1.       Lower upfront costs
2.       Easy as 1,2,3 process
3.       Same phone features that you would get if you purchased your own system
 Soooo, why wouldn’t you go with this? Read on.   
 
With a hosted solution, you spend money up front for new phones. Two items you don’t pay for are installation and the server. Here’s a scenario that happens more often than not:
 
Sue’s company decides to go with a hosted phone plan. They purchase 5 phones for around $600. It’s a great price. Then they decide that they want voice mail boxes, an auto attendant, caller ID, voicemail-to-email, and music-on-hold. Ok, great… that’s going to cost, on average, an additional $5 per month for each feature on top of each user’s fee of around $20 per month.
 
Doing the math our total is $100 + $25 per month. Not too bad. Keep reading…
 
Next, most folks don’t know this, but companies that provide hosted solutions often charge you extra for minutes – outgoing AND incoming- at around 2.9 cents per minute. Sue’s company uses around 3,000 minutes per month, adding an additional $90.
 
Again, the math says $125 + 90 = $215/month. Are you seeing a trend?
 
Still not too bad… right? Well, Sue receives that “box of phones” via U.S. mail. She stares at it for a moment and wonders “what do I do now?” She calls her hosting company; they tell her how to plug the phones in. She does… they don’t work. The service rep (from who-knows-where) tells her “Well, it sounds like you need a new router;  yours isn’t big enough to handle more than one call.” Great… Sue drives to an electronic store, talks to the tech geeks, and discovers she needs a $500 router. “What?!” Exasperated and knowing she’s tied into this hosted system, she buys it. After four hours of fruitless attempts struggling to get the network set up, she finally calls an IT guy to come out and help. They charge $125/hour. It takes them two hours.
 
Now her total is $600 (phones) + $500 (router) + $250 (IT guy) = $1,350 in upfront costs. Add in the $215/month, every month for phone use and she’s at $2,580/year – how did that happen?
 
Her first year total is $3,930; the second year it “goes down” to $2,580…
 
Now, let’s compare to the traditional PBX system. Of course, in this scenario, Sue decides to work with Phoneworx. Hey it’s my blog and I’m a Phoneworx’er 🙂
  
She visits the Phoneworx showroom and plays around with the phones – seeing how they feel, look, and sound – and picks the one she wants. She loves the look and feel of the Cisco system and she is ready to go!  Four to seven days later our technicians visit her office and handle the entire installation.
 
They set up the phones and internet with voicemail boxes, an auto attendant, caller ID, voicemail-to-email, and music-on-hold all at no extra cost – it’s included! The next day a Phoneworx representative visits Sue’s office and provides training to all the employees.
 
Sue is excited because she never had to stop working or be involved in the installation or networking… there is a reason why IT networking people exist. It is not easy to do it all yourself.  The coolest part?
There are no added fees for incoming or outgoing calls, no long distance charges, and no additional monthly fees. For a five-phone system Sue spent $2,900.00 once, that’s it!
 
Her first year total = $2,900.00; the second year = $0…
 
So, what’s the moral to Sue’s story? If you spend a little more money upfront you can spare yourself frustration and stress in the long term. Plus you can save A LOT of money over time. Even better – Phoneworx is right here in Greenville to help you and your employees if anything ever goes wrong.
 
So there you have it, the dirty lowdown of hosted phone systems.
          Sabrina – 
Your phone system expert”
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