How to Save Money on Telecomunications

After electric and fuel costs, one of the biggest cost to do business is through communications. It’s nearly impossible for a business to survive today without using telephones and a connection to the Internet. But these services aren’t cheap and it’s 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 risen due to the errors that occur on invoices, but many small businesses won’t have enough savings to hire them. It may still be a good idea to have a expert professional come in once a year to assist in the review.

Some common errors include:
• Services invoiced at an incorrect rate.
• Services that have been disconnected, but still being invoiced.
• Incorrect Taxes and Service Fees.
• Third-Party Billing Charges.

Check the Cellular Invoice
Don’t forget to look at your cellular invoices. Do you use Informational Services (the Internet) on your cell phone? Many of the providers charge a huge fee this service. Evaluate the usage. Is it worth the cost? Can you do without?

Are you paying for a Text Messaging plan, but never use it? Or worst are you texting, but don’t have a plan? It doesn’t take long for a few text messages a day to create a huge invoice for text messaging if you aren’t 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
It’s not uncommon for small businesses to request services and after the end of the contract period a carrier will renew at the same rate or worst a higher per-month rate that could be as much as 60% more than having a term commitment. It’s always a good idea to begin to negotiate your contact 90 days or more before the it ends.

Even if you are in a long-term commitment, it could be to your advantage to periodically review with your service provider’s account manager to see if you may be able to lower your rates.

During a time when the economy is slow, as it currently is, is a good time to look at renegotiating a long term contract or begin negotiations on one that will soon be expiring.

Consider alternatives
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, it’s 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. There’s also the possibly of using secure Instant Messaging and email instead of placing a telephone call.

There are a number of free services that you can use for Directory Assistance instead of 411, which usually has a high cost. 800 Free411 is one these free services. At worst you may have to listen to a short advertisement before getting the number.

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 company’s Toll-free number, to opening the company to unauthorized data collection companies or the employee spending a good deal of the day on social networks such as FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter or Instant Messaging (IM).

It’s important to have a technology policy in place and have your employees understand and adhere to it. Even the use of social networks and can be used to benefit the company. This can be addressed in the policy. Since technology is always changing, the policy may need to be addressed a few times each year.

© 2007-2012 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

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