Tips for assisting businesses and even individuals in saving money on their telecommunications cost.
After electric and fuel costs, one of the biggest cost to do business is through communications. Itís nearly impossible for a business to survive today without using telephones and a connection to the Internet. But these services arenít cheap and itís not hard for them to become out of control. There are ways to control these costs, perhaps even to decrease those expenses.
To begin you will start with the obvious.
Check invoices for errors
This is so obvious that it is sometimes overlooked. It is quite common for telecommunication invoices to have errors. These errors could be as simple as paying above the cost of a contracted service, to as complex as out right fraud. The fraud though is not done by your carrier, but via third-billing charges of others.
Each and every month those invoices need to be checked and audited. A whole business has arisen due to the errors that occur on invoices, but many small businesses wonít have enough savings to hire them. Although it may not be a bad idea to have a professional come in once a year to assist in the review.
Some common errors include:
ē Services invoiced at an incorrect rate.
ē Services that have been disconnected, but still being invoiced.
ē Incorrect Taxes and Service Fees.
ē Third-Party Billing Charges.
Check the Cellular Invoice
Donít forget to look at your cellular invoices. Do you use Informational Services on your cell phone? Many of the providers charge a huge fee for those calls.
Are you paying for a Text Messaging plan, but never use it? Or worst are you texting, but donít have a plan? It doesnít take long for a few text messages a day to create a huge invoice for text messaging if you arenít already in a plan.
Depending on how many handsets you have on your plan, if you are playing insurance, it could actually cost more then replacing a handset at cost.
Review the contracts
Itís not uncommon for small businesses to request services and after the end of the contract period a carrier will renew at the same rate. If you negotiate your contact, itís possible that there may be a better rate. Or at worst you never negotiated a contract and you are being charged the per-month cost of services. These rates could be as much as 60% more than having a term commitment.
Even if you are in a long-term commitment, it could be to your advantage to periodically review with your service providerís account manager to see if you may be able to lower your rates.
Technology changes every day, and something that was costly or impossible for a small business to do in the past may be available today. By using the Internet, itís now possible to do Video Conferencing with the standard computer equipment on your desk, when in the past you needed specialized equipment.
To help with the costs of Long-Distance telephone calls, you can use the Internet and VoIP for calls. Thereís also the possibly of using secure Instant Messaging and email instead of placing a telephone call.
Create a Technology Policy
Unfortunately some of the largest waste come from employees misusing or abusing office technology. This could be anything from using the Internet to do personal shopping on company time, to taking personal calls using the companyís Toll-free number, to opening the company to unauthorized data collection companies.
Itís important to have a technology policy in place and have your employees understand and adhere to it. Since technology is always changing, the policy may need to be addressed a few times each year.
© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson Ė All rights reserved