Up till now I have been using a cell phone as my business phone so that I am always available to the customer. I am considering adding a dedicated phone number in the office to be used as the business line which would forward to my cell if I wasn't in the office.
A company called Vonage offers a VOIP service which includes unlimited calling plus a dedicated fax line for a good price. The tradeoff is that is works over the high speed internet connection. Does anyone else use this type of technology for their business phone service ? If so, how is it working ?
Have been using it for 2 years, love it. Cheap and reliable. The cool thing is if you lose power, you voicemails are still recorded thru vonage and you can give it the option to forward calls to your cell or other number if you prefer.
When i built my website 2 years ago, i didn't know any better and used a lot of microsoft exclusive functions. Now i am currently having the page rebuilt using a professional service, with some cool interactive features.
I have a business line in the office then the call is forwarded to the cell phone most of the time. One problem that I notice is it can be a long delay before the phone rings. I believe it is more to do with Nextel and tring to locate my cell phone. Sometimes it has taken 20-30 seconds for the phne to ring. It will pause and say "please hold while we locate our Nextel subscriber" a few times. I wonder if I loose a few new calls from people not wanting to wait.
One plus with having a business number is you will be listed in the local phone books and internet phone directories. One negitive is now telemarketers will call you a few times a day. They will think you just opened your doors so you need insurance, advertising, temp staffing, etc. I even get companies calling to try and find out all your contact information, numbers, and addresses for a free business listing - in what? To sell as sales leads. I gave some bogas contact names and more then a year latter I still get mail and calls for a person that does not exist.
If you go with vontage or another VOIP you would not get a business number listed in the books for free or on the internet unless you took out an ad.
If you do go with a standared business line like SBC try to get some calling plan. Every call forwared to the cell phone is charged on the business phone line and cell phone line.
Another nice feature is if something happens to your cell phone you can just forward calls to a different one.
You have a nice web site. Did you take the pictures or were they from some advertising package?
One important thing to remember about Vonage is that if you give your number over to them, (if you were using a conventonal carrier) or if you get the number from them in the first place, you can't port that number back to another carrier if you decide you don't like Vonage. Reason is they are not a phone company.
This might not make a difference with a home number but a business number becomes like a name. Customers associate it with you and it should be on all your printed material and advertising. My customers that have to change their numbers because of a move spend big money to make sure the old numbers get forwarded to them usually for a year.
As for Vonage's fax line, all I can say is that reports are that it will work around 80% of the time at best.
But the bigger picture is that you have to ask yourself how long will this last? Vonage, cable companies and others like them that offer voice are not telephone carriers YET. Their rates can be half what the regular carriers charge because half of their bill is government taxes and surcharges.
How long do you think the government will take to realize they are losing billions by letting these guys operate as telephone companies and not collecting taxes from them?
About all I can say is enjoy it while you can. It ain't the future, it's just that the idiots in Washington haven't gotten to it yet.