The Phone Company Hates Me!

Why? Because I can show you how to cut them out of the equation, buy a brand new phone system, and still have money left over.

About 7 years ago I was discussing the rise of cell phones with my wife. I love to pretend I have a crystal ball in my head, so I said something like, "Soon, regular phones will go away. Everyone will have a cell phone, and home phones will be a thing of the past." I was wrong, at least about my own household.

I still have a landline at my house. I've tried to get rid of it. I call the phone company, tell them to cancel the service, and they say something like, "Well, Mr. Shelley, if we cancel your phone service, you will lose the bundle pricing." The end result? My price goes up. The phone company will actually charge me money to turn off my home phone. I don't know for a fact that this is still the case; I stopped asking a while back. Besides, the home phone is a great "spam" filter. I give out that number to people I don't want to talk to. I can't remember the last time I checked voice mail on that thing.

So why does the phone company insist that I keep my phone? I don't know for sure. My personal theory is that they know they are fighting a losing battle and just can't bring themselves to face reality.

What's the point? I think the phone companies know they are facing another losing battle with business phone services. PRIs and POTS lines are a thing of the past . Maybe not yet, but they are fading fast. There is one major difference: they haven't started giving them away for free yet. POTs lines run in the neighborhood of $50/month each and PRI lines can cost between $500 and $1,000/month.

Now for the fun part — let me show you how to get a brand new phone system with full computer integration and more features than you know what to do with (but still very simple to use) without paying a penny out of pocket. I'll work with a sample setup of 20 users and 8 POTS lines. With taxes and long distance charges, the monthly cost for the POTS lines will be around $500. The cost for SIP trunks (the replacement to the old-fashioned POTS lines) is around $150/month (including long-distance). So that's an immediate savings of $350. A new phone system with 20 handsets comes in under $10,000 including installation and setup. Put that on a 60-month lease and you'll end up with a payment of $241. Subtract that amount from your savings of $350 and you end up pocketing $110/month. Just for fun, add that savings up over the course of your 5-year lease and you will make $6,600 for your "troubles".

One word of caution: these phone systems are not for everyone. I have prepared a very simple test to see if they are a good fit for you. Pull a $100 bill out of your wallet. You do have a $100 bill in your wallet, right? Good. Hold it in your left hand. With your right hand, strike a match and hold it right next to Benjamin's face. With your money going up in smoke, see if you can stand there calmly, with a smile on your face. If you flinch, or say one swear word, you need a new phone system. Otherwise, you're probably fine right where you are.

So assuming you failed the Benjamin test, here are a few of the features and benefits that will accompany the extra cash in your pocket.

 Computer Integration Voice mail sent to email; dial phone numbers directly from websites, documents, or applications; incoming calls can automatically pop up client information; transfer calls using your computer with drag-and-drop feature; record phone calls and save them to your hard drive.

 Easy to Scale/Grow Adding lines involves a quick license upgrade and can be handled in minutes. New handsets do not require additional licensing. Simply plug them in, configure the user account, and you're ready to go.

 Mobile Friendly Work from anywhere. I have a handset at the office, another (with the same extension number) at my home office, and the mobile app on my smartphone. I can answer calls from anywhere, and the caller never knows the difference.

 Multiple Locations Connect multiple offices together as one unit. Transfer calls back and forth, reroute calls if one location goes offline, let your staff work from home, etc.

There's more, but I seem to be running out of room. Let me end with an offer for you to call my bluff. Let me take a look at your phone bill. Assuming you are using traditional POTS or PRI lines, I will show you how we can save you enough money to pay for the phone system. If I'm wrong, I'll buy you a steak dinner. Deal? Good. Now put out that fire, put the rest of your money back in your wallet, and pick up the phone. Talk to you soon!

Justin Shelley