Setting up a system that uses two, four or more telephone lines can seem like an expensive and tricky process if you’ve never done it before but it’s actually not that difficult. Exact prices and deals are bound to change with time, but we can take you through the basics of getting your small or home business set up with the right system to help your staff and customers.
How Many Lines?
A good starting point is to have one line for every two employees. However, different businesses that communicate in different ways may find that they’ll need less or more. If your employees don’t use their phone system for more than an hour each day or rely more on email and internet as a form of communication, you might get away with having far less.
When considering what you’ll need, don’t forget to take into account the future of your business. Will you still be as large as you are now in two years time? Will you gain more staff or downsize? If you’ve got a company with eight employees and you think it might be likely you’ll take on another four next year, a PBX system will be a better option than a 4-line. Even if you have no staff and answer all calls yourself, having a two line phone still makes good business sense. This is because you’ll be more aware of your customer’s calls and be in a better situation to quickly deal with them.
Setting up your System – Things to Consider
The first thing you need to do is get your phone company to install the extra lines you need. Once installed, these will then terminate in a main board, usually outside the building. The price of this will depend on your phone company, with charges averaging $60-$100 per line. It’s important to remember these charges won’t cover installing phone jacks into your building. However, you don’t have to go with your phone provider for installation. You can often find local installers who can do this for much cheaper. Installing jacks can cost anything from $50 to $100 per hour.
You can save yourself some time and money by requesting your installers to place two lines in each jack, which obviously cuts down the number of jacks you need by half. This will not have any negative effect on the quality of each line.
Once you’ve got your hardware sorted, you need to go back to your company and inquire about their call rotation service. This might also be called a ‘roll over group’. This service will allow the phone system to automatically try line two if line one is busy, try line three if line two is busy and so on. This takes full advantage of using multiple lines.
At this point you can also consider setting up an 800 number. These can be costly as providers tend to charge you by the minute at anything up to 10 cents. However, they also encourage more people to use your phone service. They also provide a professional point of contact, so the service is worth thinking about. You can also get voicemail services at the same time, which typically cost about $20 a month and come with a small setup fee. Modern phones are increasingly able to provide this service as a standalone feature. If you’re prepared to pay slightly more upfront for a phone that supports voicemail, you could save in the long run.
The final step is slightly easier and gives you a wider of choice – buying the phone itself! There are a lot of models on the market so as with any purchase, do some research first and shop around for the best deal. Look out for phones with features that will make it easy for you to maintain a professional image such as call transfers, missed call logs, hold music and automated services. Many of these are standard features on newer models but not with budget sets, so do your research before you commit.
Once the phones arrive you need to manually configure each one, plug them in to the phone jack and mains, and you should be set up and ready to go.