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Obviously, a lot goes into running a small business; there are a lot of elements that need to be considered. As the business expands and more people are hired, purchasing company phones might become the easiest way to encourage your staff to keep in touch. However, when it comes to the purchase of said phones, there are a lot of things to think about. You need to ensure that you are doing the right thing for the business and its bottom line, so let’s explore.
Running a Small Business – Company Phones
Choosing the Plan
You might think that your choice of handset will be the biggest thing to think about; however, this is not necessarily the case. This is because some phone plans include the handset in their price, and some do not. There are three types of plans. There is the SIM-only, the pay-as-you-go and the monthly contract. The truth is that all of the options will have their own benefits and drawbacks, depending on the needs of your business.
Let’s start with the SIM-only options; obviously, this will involve simply purchasing the SIM. You would then have to purchase the handsets that you need for the business separately. You will also need to think about who the business communicates with; if you frequently need to communicate with suppliers or workers overseas, then you need to be able to make international calls.
It should also be pointed out that some SIM-only plan providers require a credit check before they will offer you them, so depending on the credit you have massed in the business, this could make them inaccessible unless, of course, you go for a provider like Lebara that offers SIM-only plans without the need for a credit check.
If you do choose a SIM-only plan, then there are a few advantages that you can enjoy. Firstly, the plans themselves do tend to be fairly cheap, although saving money on the plan might not mean much if you have to fork out for handsets. The commitment is less than that of other plans; most of the time, they tend to roll over month to month, which means you can cancel as necessary if a member of staff leaves or doesn’t need the phone anymore for whatever reason. Finally, depending on the plan, it is also unlikely that you will run out of credit like you could with a pay-as-you-go plan.
The next option to consider is a pay-as-you-go SIM; they are relatively inexpensive, and you can pick them up from most shops for a couple of pounds. The SIM cards often come with a small plastic card which looks like a debit card. The card is used to ‘top-up’ the SIM; you take the card to a supermarket or corner shop and put money on the SIM, which then allows the user to make calls, send texts or access the internet. A pay-as-you-go SIM never comes with a handset, but some handsets do come with a pay-as-you-go SIM.
Obviously, with pay-as-you-go SIM cars, there is always the chance of running out of credit which would render the phone unusable. So they might not make too much sense for a company phone unless you can come up with a system whereby the phone is topped up.
For example, the staff could pay for their own top-ups and then claim the expense back. It could, however, be a good way to gauge how much the phones are being used and by whom.
Pay-as-you-go SIMs represent the lowest form of or the minimal commitment available; the SIMs can be retired or change hands as necessary, and you aren’t locked into any plan. You could monitor the phone use by distributing top-up vouchers once a month and asking the staff to make them last. Also, depending on your choice of handset, it might come with a pay-as-you-go SIM anyway.
The final option to consider is a monthly contract; they are almost always the most expensive option. This is because a monthly contract is essentially a lease-to-buy contract for your handset, which happens to include calls, messages and data too. Obviously, the handset is included in the price, which means that you wouldn’t have to shop for handsets separately but depending on how many phones you need for the business, it could constitute a substantial monthly expense.
If you did choose to go with a monthly contract for the business’s phone needs, then you would have to commit to this for the duration of the contract, regardless of the business’s financial state or the state of the handset itself.
The duration of the contract is often measured in months; the longer the term, the cheaper the monthly payments, but the interest does add up more. A credit check needs to be carried out in order to see whether the business is eligible to take out the contracts. Unless limits are put in place, it is possible for your staff to go over the contract allowance with excessive use, which would incur additional costs.
However, obviously, you get the handset as part of the cost, which does make things easier, and there is no upfront cost to contend with. As a result, you are able to provide your staff with a better handset than you would probably be able to afford if you were purchasing them outright. In addition, paying the phone contracts on time can also enhance your business’s credit rating.
Choosing the Handset
The other thing to think about when choosing phones for your small business is the handset. The likelihood is that you will be buying in bulk which means you probably can’t afford to choose the newest models, which can run into the thousands individually, let alone when buying more than one. The price will therefore be a significant factor, so think about how much you have to spend on the phones as a whole, then divide it by the number of phones that you need to find out how much you can afford to spend per handset.
You also need to consider the capabilities of the phone too. What will your staff be expected to do on the phone? Is it predominantly for communicating with business contacts? In which case, they probably won’t need a phone with all the bells and whistles; a basic model would probably do.
However, if they are expected to perform work tasks on the phone, then they might need a better processor in order to ensure that the phone can complete the tasks.
For the most part, the look of the phone itself won’t really matter much unless, of course, you care about the aesthetics of the phone. It is your business, after all. You could also choose to get branded phone cases so that the phones are protected and will last longer, as well as act as passive advertising for your business, and it makes it easier for your staff to differentiate between their personal phones and their work phones.
When it comes to choosing iPhone or android phones for your business, there are a few things that you will need to consider, such as the type of contract you want to enter into, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages, not to mention the choice in handset too which can be a little overwhelming. So do some research, come up with a budget and ask the staff for input.