Cost cutter: Reduce your phone bill

Cost cutter: Reduce your phone bill Simple ways to slash your phone overheads.

Given the amount of time the average entrepreneur spends on the phone, it's not surprising many businesses' phone bills often resemble the GDP of a small country. Follow Smarta's steps to reduce your phone bill - and keep your bank manager happy.

1. Know what you use

Start by sitting down with your landline and mobile phone bills and work out exactly how many minutes you use, how many text messages you send and how much data you download each month, then compare it to your tariff. Are you going over your allocations each month, or are you paying for more than you are using?

Check out call plans your provider offers: many have special plans allowing you to make cheap or free calls to certain numbers or during certain hours. If you aren't on a business tariff, sign up for one now - they are more flexible than normal consumer tariffs, and if you're using a mobile, they allow you to have better handset for a lower costs.

Another option is to look at resellers, such as Daisy, which offers bespoke packages for businesses based on your size and phone usage.

2. Ditch extra costs

That 0800 number might be impressive to your customers, but every time someone calls, it costs your business almost 5p a minute. Try to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) you're getting from it - is it giving you a competitive advantage? If not, you can always switch to an 0845 number, which is charged at local rates.

Similarly, it's not always necessary for each employee to have their own phone line. If you have staff who don't use the phone often, find out if they can share a line. Likewise, if employees have left your business or you have made redundancies, it's easy to forget to cut off their phone lines while you're dealing the aftermath - make sure you're not paying for phone lines you don't use.

3. Use Skype

Skype, the service which allows you to make free calls over the internet, was launched in 2003 and has transformed how cash-strapped businesses across the globe communicate. If you make a lot of calls to suppliers or customers abroad, using Skype could decimate your phone bills, and even if you don't, Skype now has a mobile phone application which allows you to use the service while you're on the move. Check before you download it, though: while Three Mobile allows you to use Skype over its 3G network, O2 blocks it.

4. Don't forget about broadband

It's not just phone calls which rack up the pennies on your phone bill - the price of broadband can also be a drain on your resources. Use a tool such as Broadband-Help.com's connection speed test to find out how fast your connection is, then find out what you're paying for - while speeds of up to 50mbps are available for a relatively low price, many broadband users are paying over the odds for connection speeds which aren't available in their local area.

5. Look at how your staff use their phones

Conduct an audit of how your staff use their phones. Are they using or putting in calls to mobiles when they could be using a landline instead? Could they send emails instead of making calls? How do they find phone numbers - have they been phoning 118 numbers instead of looking it up on the internet?

Mobile phone bills are also expensive - could any of your staff get by without a mobile? Check on how your employees are using their mobiles: ask for itemised bills so you can check you staff aren't making personal calls on their company mobiles.

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