How much does a business phone system cost?
If you are a business, big or small, searching for a new business phone system that will better handle all necessary needs can be extremely confusing with all the options out there. Between service providers, packages, and prices you might not fully understand what is out there or what you are looking for. For starters, a phone system is entirely different from a simple phone line, because it will allow you to control when, how and what device will receive the call for you.
There are many important questions that must be asked before making a decision in terms of a phone system. Do you work alone, or in a team with a few others? Are you working in a larger office, with many employees needing to access the phone at a time? Most business phone systems will typically connect teams of 2-50, whereas business phone applications are ideal for solo workers and freelancers. Throughout this article, we will go through a few steps that need to be taken into consideration when deciding on a phone system and provider.
What Type of Phone Systems are Available for your Business?
Whether you are searching for your first phone system for your small business, or are looking to replace your entire large company’s phone system, there are three broad options offered. Each of these options has different costs, so the first decision you must make is what type of phone system is needed.
Mobile and Solar Workers- A Cloud Communication Application
If you are working from home or running a business from somewhere in the world, then you know the struggles of having to deal with the functions of your mobile phone. Missing important customer calls because you aren’t sure if they are for business or pleasure, being judged as unprofessional because you don’t have a landline, or getting work calls at inconvenient times are just a few of the issues you might have encountered.
Cloud communication applications could be your saving grace. These types of apps are able to address all you need to when running a solo business, all while using your mobile phone to solely manage all that needs to be done. A phone system application on your device will allow you to do all that’s needed to be done with a virtual number. Your new business number will ring only on your application, so you will always be sure of when business calls are taking place. On the other hand, when you are making calls to other businesses, your business phone number that is associated with the downloaded app will show on the receiving end’s caller ID. This way, you will project an image of professionalism.
A business application is the most affordable option for small businesses or for a business phone line replacement. It can help to keep costs low because you can use all offered through your own mobile phone while keeping all the included bells and whistles that you need. Some neat features that are offered for this option are voicemail to email capabilities, a robot receptionist, and a professional business phone number.
The applications and their services offered cost in the ballpark of $15-$35 per month, depending on which features you wish to include.
Desk Based Workers and Teams- A Cloud Phone System
If your work requires you to use a desk phone, or cordless phone, while allowing others to use the same lines, then the best solution is to choose a cloud-based phone system. These types of systems are usually recommended for office-based teams between 2 and 50 staff members. This is because these businesses have a front-of-house staff that will do most of the heavy lifting, allowing the phone system to deal with all the rest.
A cloud-based system, which is also known as a hosted phone or virtual PBX system, is a type of software that controls when calls come in, and how they come into your business. These systems work through VoIP software rather than through the traditional phone lines. With VoIP software running this system, there are tons of team productivity features that are offered. Some of the most notable features are call transfer, call hold, queuing callers, ringing multiple people at once, audio recording, and line monitoring.
In general, most will pay around $30-$60 for a user, per month. Yes, these phone systems are more expensive but will be a great investment if your workforce needs these features.
Call Centers- On-Premise PBX Systems
If you are remotely familiar with phone systems, then you have probably heard of the old on-premise systems. This system allows a physical box, commonly known as private branch exchange or PBX, to be installed in your business office, which is then connected to handsets and phone lines. Yes, these systems do still exist and may even offer businesses and call centers with increased benefits. The only updates that have been made to these types of systems are that they are now wired through SIP trunks, which is a type of VoIP system, instead of using the traditional copper phone lines.
Choosing this type of system will let some businesses control their location, configuration, and maintenance methods, which is a great thing for some. This type of system is also completely separate from your main telephone provider, which will make it easier to integrate and separate lines if needed. On-premise systems offer call centers the maximum amount of features available because they receive the highest levels of call volumes. Additionally, in terms of maintenance, most call centers will have on-site IT professionals available for any maintenance that needs to be done to enable the system to run smoothly.
Now, it’s important to note that the cost of these systems is much more expensive than the previous phone systems listed. Averaging from $5,000 to upwards of $10,000, these systems are a huge investment. In addition to these costs, it’s important to remember that there are also maintenance, upgrades, and configuration costs that must be paid on top of the initial system costs.
Phone System Cost Comparisons
Now that your business better understands the different types of phone systems that are available to them, it’s time to look at the costs. Phone systems are priced in different ways, and while some elements are charged upfront, others are paid per month or in the long term. There are a few different ways that phone systems will charge their customers, and we will list them all below.
- Plan Charges, Per User, Per Month – This type of payment package will cover the fixed costs regardless of the services used. This plan will cover the cost of providing each business with their phone system, given phone numbers, technical support, customer service, and maintenance. Plan inclusions will differ by provider, location, and the chosen plan.
- Usage and Call Charges – Generally these plans will cost businesses almost nothing, but do not include calls. You will, therefore, have to pay for each call made based on your location, the time it takes, and the provider’s rates. If your business only receives incoming calls, then sometimes this is the best and cheapest option. On the other hand, some of these plans will offer packages that have unlimited calls. If your business makes more than 10 calls per month, this might be the best value. Not all unlimited call plans are the same, so making sure that all types of domestic calls, and even some international calls, are included will be in your best interest.
- Number Porting – This is a term that involves the process of moving your phone and fax numbers from one provider to another. Meaning, your business can keep the same numbers saved when transferring phone systems. The only drawback of this type of plan is that it can be very expensive. A single ported number can cost anywhere around $30 to $50, and since most businesses have more lines than just one, can make the fees add up.
- Business PBX Features – The features obtained in this type of plan can vary based on the chosen provider and plan. Making sure that all the features your business deems essential are included will be highly beneficial for this type of plan. Some features such as auto-attendants, voicemail to email functions, call queues, and high call volume features may or may not be offered depending on the plan purchased.
- Desk Phones and Other Online Applications – All the needed devices and hardware will play a large role in the cost of each plan and system chosen. Here, you will be able to choose which methods of communication you wish to use and if new technology needs to be obtained or not.
The Final Checklist
The bottom line is that the pricing of the best cloud-based cloud-based phone system for small businesses will ultimately depend on the types of systems chosen, the included features, calling plan, and the number of users you wish to involve. There is no magic number that you should look for when making the switch to a business phone system, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. When comparing systems make sure that there is no added set-up fee, no number porting charges, including mobile applications, essential business features offer, team productivity add-ons, and no line caps. If you are willing to put the time and effort into choosing the best system for your needs, then you and your business will be able to thrive.
Finally, you need to ask yourself how to get the right business phone number!