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#169515 - 10/06/07 09:47 PM Business phone systems  
sparky 134  Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 91
Joliet, Il, USA
I'm branching out into data/phone wiring market. A commercial customer of mine is asking if I can install a business phone system for a small office (10 phones or less).

Can anyone recommend a particular brand that works well ? Also, how would I acquire training to program the system ?

Thanks for any input.


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#169518 - 10/06/07 11:34 PM Re: Business phone systems [Re: sparky 134]  
EV607797  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 745
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
The Vodavi STSe is a non-restricted product and comes with all documentation in the box. It will do everything you need. It's available, along with all other parts that you'll need from any Graybar branch. You can also check the product out at www.vodavi.com.

Note that this isn't a trade that you'll pick up overnight. Running cable and installing sophisticated phones systems aren't quite the same. There is a lot of terminology and tooling that you'll need to learn from scratch. You might want to consider partnering with a dealer that's located in your area to get your feet wet with this product. The website I mentioned also includes a dealer locator tool.


---Ed---

"But the guy at Home Depot said it would work."

#169519 - 10/07/07 01:04 AM Re: Business phone systems [Re: EV607797]  
WESTUPLACE  Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 251
Kingwood, TX USA
The wiring and connections are easy, programming is another story. If you are new to the field, expect to spend many hours learning programming. Some of my systems programming manuals are 500+ pages long. Voice mail can even be worse. As EV said, terminology needs to be learned to program the system.


#169529 - 10/07/07 03:57 PM Re: Business phone systems [Re: sparky 134]  
LK  Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
New Jersey
Originally Posted by sparky 134
A commercial customer of mine is asking if I can install a business phone system for a small office


Yes, he most likely is calling you, looking for a price, he most likely already got some prices from other phone installation companies, and the pricing was high, they charge for the installation, and equipment, then they all get a monthy payment for a service contract, that you must agree tom this contract is just to provide service, not to do additional work, service calls are extras on top of the contract, you will have a lot too learn before your ready to do phone installations, your married to the job unlike electrical where you instal get paid and may never come back. As one of the posters said, there is a lot to learn.


#169532 - 10/07/07 04:54 PM Re: Business phone systems [Re: LK]  
hbiss  Offline
Member
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
Hawthorne, NY USA
your married to the job unlike electrical where you install, get paid and may never come back.

You also better have experience with whatever system you install and telecom in general to be able to diagnose and troubleshoot any number of problems that will come up. This is not something that you will find in any user manual. You also need to have spare parts on hand. One thing that you will absolutely have to understand is that a telephone system is vital to a business. Any down time means lost revenues so you better be prepared to get them up and running as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately I see many "hit-and-run" installations. They were all done by someone with no knowledge of the trade, who were usually asked by a customer to provide a system.

The data/phone wiring and telephone market is not as easy as you think. You don't just decide one day that that's what you want to do then go to the supply house and pick up a reel of cable.

-Hal


#169535 - 10/07/07 08:29 PM Re: Business phone systems [Re: hbiss]  
Jps1006  Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
Northern IL
Originally Posted by hbiss
The data/phone wiring and telephone market is not as easy as you think. You don't just decide one day that that's what you want to do then go to the supply house and pick up a reel of cable.

-Hal


Who said they thought it was easy?

Also, what is the proper way to try to enter this market?


#169548 - 10/08/07 12:15 AM Re: Business phone systems [Re: Jps1006]  
EV607797  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 745
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
To answer your question without bias, you essentially enter the telecommunications systems trade just like you do with any other. Electrical and plumbing have structured licensing programs based upon local laws. With telecommunications, it's based upon the same standard. Unfortunately, there are no laws enforced by local authorities, so anyone can go around doing whatever they want without repercussion. The system manufacturers are the only enforcement bodies actually verifying the knowledge level and financial responsibility requirements that a regular trade license would require. That means that they can cut a contractor off at any time if the contractor isn't doing a good enough job supporting the customers or coming running quickly enough.

It basically comes down to the school of hard knocks, just like getting an electrician's license. Plan on spending about four years of OJT to get a good understanding to the extent that you can be left alone on an installation. Another four years will be required before you have the verifiable knowledge of the industry before a system manufacturer will acknowledge you as an authorized dealer.

As I originally mentioned, it's probably best to partner with a local trained and authorized dealer. This is the very same thing that you would probably do with any other trade, such as plumbing, carpentry or HVAC. Although the installations of phone systems appear to be fairly new and easy to learn, you won't be doing yourself or your customer any favors in making assumptions. Let the dealer pay you a sales lead for the equipment sale, you do the wiring, and then they can deal with the emergency "how do I do this?" questions in the middle of the night. Such a relationship will greatly reduce the headache factor.

As HBiss mentioned, when the phones don't work properly, for any reason including user-error, it's a total crisis. Can you afford to drop what you are doing on a major job to come running only to find that they have the phone plugged in the wrong jack? Trust me, it's not worth it unless you have a lot of people working for you who know what they are doing so that someone can be there within minutes, not "later or tomorrow". I've been dealing with these crises since 1983. There's way much more to a phone system than meets the eye.

Don't forget, the phone company will completely throw you under the bus if they find that the problem is not in their facilities. You'll need to be able to prove them wrong.

Now, as to that monthly maintenance contract fee that was mentioned by others, I'm at a bit of a loss on that. That must be something new in NJ because we would never get away with such a thing around here.



---Ed---

"But the guy at Home Depot said it would work."

#169553 - 10/08/07 07:06 AM Re: Business phone systems [Re: EV607797]  
sparky 134  Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 91
Joliet, Il, USA
Thanks for all of the input. As always, it is appreciated. I agree that I should start a line of communication with a local installer to 'learn the job.'

We already install the necessary infrastructure to support communications (i.e. Cat 5e, 6, etc.) We have also terminated the cabling on one end on occasion. Testing/verification was done by others.

Thanks again.


#169572 - 10/08/07 09:33 PM Re: Business phone systems [Re: EV607797]  
LK  Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
New Jersey
"Now, as to that monthly maintenance contract fee that was mentioned by others, I'm at a bit of a loss on that. That must be something new in NJ because we would never get away with such a thing around here."

It is not what you get away with, it's what you need to keep your business operating, How do you do your insurance audits on phone accounts, if you don;t have contracts in place, you do phone work without contracts, and without error and ommisions coverages? can you expand on that please, intresting! I notice your in VA one of our real estate accounts just moved a group from woodbridge VA and they were paying 8K annual on a phone contract down there, you may want want to check with established phone dealers, in you area, ypu may be supprised at to what they get for phone contracts.

Last edited by LK; 10/08/07 09:42 PM.

#169575 - 10/08/07 11:54 PM Re: Business phone systems [Re: LK]  
hbiss  Offline
Member
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
Hawthorne, NY USA
Maintenance or service contracts are somewhat of a controversial topic in the phone trade. There are those like myself who don't believe in them. Customers are better off paying for service when and if they need it judging by our observation that once installed, very little will go wrong. With a contract we believe that they will call for every little thing tying up our time and costing us money.

Then there are those who push contracts to all their customers. With every customer paying a monthly fee they do make money but they need a large customer base and additional employees.

I really don't know what you are talking about- How do you do your insurance audits on phone accounts if you don't have contracts in place, you do phone work without contracts, and without error and ommisions coverages?

Of course we have a contract with the customer for all installation work. Never heard of anyone in this trade with errors and omissions coverage. Normally such things are covered in the contract fine print.

-Hal


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