Life Line

June 7, 2011

The life line to any business is the phone.

 

 

It is your connection to the public.

 

The Customer calls and you are on stage.

 

 

 

My Pop always said,

 

 

“That people hear you before they see you.”

 

 

 

What image are you projecting when your clients call?

 

 

 

Some companies place a low priority on this…..

 

 

 

Trying calling Dell, Comcast or Verizon.

 

 

 

All their words tell you they are customer oriented

 

 

Geared to handle your issues,

 

 

but you are so frustrated by the time you get a chance to
talk to someone!!!

 

When you finally do get a human voice…

 

 

You start to panic…..

 

 

Please don’t hang up!!!!

 

 

If we get disconnected…..

 

Can you call me back at 856……….

 

 

Is that true customer service?

 

 

 

 

Service is Key

 

 

Companies personally answering each phone call

 

Is rare these days….

 

Almost unheard of

 

 

Guess what????

 

HBS has a client who does just that.

 

 

Recently, we met with the client who had a 12 year old phone
system

 

 

Yeah, the phones worked….

 

But we were having trouble finding parts for it

 

 

They were dealing with an accident waiting to happen.

 

 

When we met with them,

 

we asked….

 

What are you looking for a new phone system to do?

 

 

Besides the ability to personally answer each call

 

They were also looking for management tools

 

  • How long calls were lasting
  • Who is available to answer overflow
  • How many rings does it take to answer
  • How can we get in touch with people who hang up

 

We took all their suggestions into account and spoke to many
of the phone vendors we deal with to define a solution that would work.

 

We found a solution with

 

The new Hosted VOIP system designed by Evolve

 

 

It has not only addressed their questions

 

but their ability to service the client has

 

Shot thru the roof.

 

 

Here are some of the comments we have received

 

 

I couldn’t believe we had over 900 calls the other day.

 

We had 9 people answering the phone in the past;

 

Now we have up to 15 people available to jump in and help out.

 

 

We found that many people hang up after they have been on hold for more than 20 seconds,

 

Now, we are able to retrieve those #s and call them back up

 

 

 

I was out of town last week and was able to log in remotely to see what was going on in our call
center.

 

 

The tools and products now available to business……

 

Continue to literally evolve.

 

 

When VoIP was first introduced;

 

QOS (quality of service) was a major issue.

 

 

Voices sounded delayed, in the distance and always had static.

 

 

 

Hosted VOIP solutions have put these questions to rest.

 

Clients are now able to ride on the providers’ network and
the results are amazing.

 

 

How old is your phone system?

 

Are you on borrowed time?

 

 

HBS represents all the major PBX and Hosted VOIP providers.

 

We offer a free consultation.

 

 

Prices for updating your phone system have never been more
affordable.

 

 

 

Hosted VOIP solutions

 

Will revitalize your efforts to

 

Stay in touch with your clients

 

 

 

 

For learn more about Hosted VOIP solutions email George@hbsadvantage.com

Or call 856-757-1230

Grab That Phone

November 10, 2010

 Just how important is the phone to business?

 Many view it as a link to the outside world. 

 My Pop used to say, “Nothing starts until the phone starts ringing.”

 He and his brother owned Hutchinson Plumbing and

 Boy did the phone ring!

 When I first got out of college, I worked on the dispatch desk. The phones would start ringing the moment we walked in the door and would not stop until we locked the door behind us at the end of the day. Back in the early 70’s we were getting close to 300 calls a day. On top of that, I was also dispatching 4 service trucks. Walking out of the building at the end of the day, I would still hear the phones ringing in my ears. It usually took about an hour or so to unwind.

 The telecom industry has come a long way since the early 70’s.

 Back then; Bell Telephone was king of the copper.

 Pots (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines were your only option.

 With the deregulation of the Telecom Industry in 1996, competition was introduced to the market and the industry started to evolve. Instead of using copper to feed individual telephone lines, they introduced fiber and the whole market exploded. All of a sudden they were able to deliver 24 lines thru one fiber cable.

At the same time the Internet was being introduced to the public and providers were able to deliver both telephone service and Internet service thru one fiber connection.

As the industry continued to evolve, a number of individuals in research environments, both in educational and corporate institutions, took a serious interest in carrying voice and video over IP networks. This technology is commonly referred to today as VOIP and is, in simple terms, the process of breaking up audio or video into small chunks, transmitting those chunks over an IP network, and reassembling those chunks at the far end so that two people can communicate using audio and video. 

The problem with VOIP in the beginning was the inability to deliver Quality of Service (QOS). You would be talking to someone on the phone and they would be saying ” Hey I am speaking to you thru the Internet.” My response, “Yea I know” either there was an echo, delay , or the voice transmission was broken up or you heard a lot of static. This was one of the main issues that kept VOIP from being embraced by business. It just seemed too unprofessional to be able to exist in a business climate.

The major providers have now addressed this QOS problem by letting you ride their network. This has brought us to a whole new era called appropriately, Hosted VOIP.

Gone are the QOS issues and expanded are the services now available to the consumer:

-voicemail to email

-twinning (ringing both your phone and cell phone  simultaneously)

-HotDesking (make and receive calls using any OfficeSuite  phone on the network)

-outlook integration

-remote workers can be supported over an Internet connection.

 How old is your business telephone system?

If it is over 10 years old, you are limping and on borrowed time.

You may choose to keep limping.

Should you choose to look at a new telephone system, I would strongly recommend reviewing the opportunities available by choosing a Hosted VOIP system.

HBS represents all the major providers and we can schedule a demo of the various systems. Come and kick the tires and see how the telecom industry has evolved.

You no longer have to be afraid to answer the phone.

To learn more about Hosted VOIP products email george@hbsadvantage.com 

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

Finding cost effective business telecoom service is a challenge that your business may not be able to undertake because it is not your core business. However, most business owner’s can save money with a little research into which business telecom services are best for their situation.

A competent and informed business telecommunications consultant is vital to assist your business make the right decision every time. Whether you are an existing business, a franchise, or a new business you need to ensure that your telecommunication needs are not only met, but met at a cost effective rate. There are many business telecommunications sales representatives out there who will only try to sell you the plan that gives them the highest commission. A wrong decision will see your business locked into expensive contracts for mobile, fixed line and data services that do not meet your needs.

Many businesses purchase telecommunications on the phone from an unknown sales person and are pressured to sign by way of a recorded verbal contract. Not surprisingly when this decision is pressured the end result is often less than ideal, it could be expensive, and it could cripple your business. The quality of the service provided and the quality of the telecommunications management team is imperative to your success.

Whilst many business decisions need to be made quickly, your telecommunications need to be right, they need to be suitable for your business now and throughout the consequential contracted period. You need to find a telecommunications consultant you can trust and ask them the following questions to ensure that they have the best interests of your organization at heart and are capable of supporting your telecommunications needs.

1. Can the business telecommunications consultant provide you with an independent analysis of your current bills against the plan they recommend, and other comparable plans in the marketplace?

Many times the customer has been “sold” a service which has not been quantified in an analytical manner. We know that communication costs are an ever increasing cost to doing business and we respect that it is difficult for any organisation to employ or train a staff member to work though this minefield.

The key to having complete understanding of your telephone bills and your telephone spending patterns is in the professional telephone bill analysis

2. Can the business telecommunications consultant provide you with testimonials from companies that are of comparable size to your organisation?

Testimonials are vital. You need to be sure that the business telecommunications consultant you are dealing with is from a reputable company with many happy clients.

3. Can the business telecommunications consultant arrange for the seamless transfer of your services should you need to change carriers?

Once your business telecommunications consultant has identified the business telecommunication rates and services that are best for you and these are accepted by your business can they arrange for the transfer of your telecommunication services to the contract selected by yourselves? Professional business telecommunications consultants should ensure that you are not inconvenienced.

4. What kind of ongoing support does your business telecommunications consultant provide?

A good business telecommunications consultant will not only sign you up to a long term contract, but will keep you advised of better deals available in the market place, and proactively and constantly negotiate better deals for you, the customer.

Finding cost effective business telecommunications services is a challenge that your business may not be able to undertake because it is not your core business. However, most business owner’s can save money with a little research into what business telecommunication services are on offer.

Our Perspective:

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) is an independent voice and data consultant. We have strategic partnerships with over 50 of the major voice and data providers serving the commercial market. Our clients are finding savings from 10% to 50% by shopping their account.

We allow our clients to continue their core competancy of running their daily business.  Our expertise is found in our ability to validate the existing configuration and define which providers will not only bring savings but also enhance the capabilities of the system thru servicing the account.

Should you like to know more about opportunities to save money on your business voice and data accounts, email george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230.

Overpaying Telecom

April 9, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Andrew Backover

For 6 months, Nelson Human Resource Solutions paid $1,000 a

month for 80 phone lines that weren’t being used.

The staffing company also paid $600 a month for empty voice-mail

boxes.

Workers would switch offices and order new service. But they would

not disconnect the old service, Nelson says. The Sonoma, Calif. firm

only discovered the problem after hiring a consulting firm to check its

telecommunications expenses.

Many companies like Nelson are throwing money away as bills

skyrocket for telephone service, cellphones, wireless handhelds,

Internet accounts and laptops connected to networks.

The cost of telecommunications now ranks in the top five expenses

for most companies, up from about No. 10 a decade ago, companies

and consultants say. Companies spend 5% to 35% more than they

need to, experts say, because they pay for services they don’t use. Or

they fail to find the cheapest calling plans. They miss billing mistakes.

And employees make calls they’re not supposed to. As telecom costs

rise, so does the potential for excessive expense.

“The waste is enormous,” says Scott Schaefer, CEO of QuantumShift,

which helps companies manage communication services. “Every

single company that has over 100 employees is waking up to the fact

that (communications) is one of their largest expenses . . . and the least

understood.”

The expense isn’t minor. This year, U.S. businesses will spend an

estimated $403 billion on local and long-distance telephone service

and equipment. That is up from $274 billion in 1998, says the

Telecommunications Industry Association. In 2004, the total will

approach $600 billion, or nearly twice the Pentagon’s annual budget.

Financial services firms, where fast communication is key, spend an

average of $3,000 per year per employee — about five times the

amount of 15 years ago, says Bill Moore of consulting firm

PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In a time of layoffs and belt tightening, more companies are eyeing

telecom budgets, says analyst Maribel Dolinov of Forrester Research.

And no item is too small. Investment banking firm Salomon Smith

Barney recently suggested that its employees stop dialing 411, which

costs about $1, to get phone numbers. A handful of branch offices

have banned it. Consultants who help companies rein in telecom

expenses say most businesses waste money because of:

* Billing mistakes.

 

 

Last year, refrigeration equipment and laundryservices firm Mac-Gray upgraded its telecom network linking

regional offices in 11 cities with its Cambridge, Mass., headquarters.

But when AT&T upgraded the service, it continued to bill Mac-Gray

for the old service as well. Mac-Gray, with 500 employees and $150

million in annual revenue, failed to catch the mistake for several

months because the bill was so complicated, it says. The overcharge:

$75,000.

AT&T reimbursed Mac-Gray — but only after Mac-Gray hired a consulting

firm to handle its telecom services and to help with the dispute.

AT&T won’t comment on customers. But even it says billing disputes

are more common as customers buy more services.

Businesses aren’t the only losers. A billing error caused the county

government of Lee County, Fla. to pay $13,000 too much for longdistance

service over 4 months this year, says telecom management

firm Stonehouse Technologies. The money was refunded after the

problem was found.

How often errors occur is disputed. Consulting firm Rand Associates

says its business clients see billing mistakes on phone bills about 80%

of the time.

Often, tax-exempt organizations, such as municipal agencies, are

wrongly charged state or federal taxes, says Rand President Rudy

Richardson.

Also, computer systems that turn telecom services on and off aren’t

always in sync with billing systems. So customers might get billed for

several extra days of service, says John Gonsalves, vice president at

technology consulting firm Adventis.

Phone companies dispute that billing mistakes occur so often. The

Federal Communications Commission doesn’t track billing errors.

BellSouth, for one, says its bills contain mistakes less than 2% of the

time.

Regardless, it is up to customers to catch billing errors. And few businesses

go through bills line by line. The monthly stack of bills for

Nelson Human Resource Solutions stood 8 inches high. “There was

no one to analyze the paper,” says Chief Financial Officer Deborah

Mings. It now has QuantumShift handle its telecom operations.

* Carelessness.

 

 

Companies and organizations cannot always blamephone companies. Pricewater-houseCoopers had one client that paid

 

 

 

$80,000 in monthly service charges over 18 months for 36 cellphones

sitting in a crate in a warehouse. “It’s not that clients are lazy,” says

PWC’s Moore. “It’s simply impossible to stay on top of it.”

Eisai Research Institute, a drug research firm in Andover, Mass.,

thought it was on top of it when it banned employees from calling 900

numbers frequently used as sex, astrology and gambling hotlines. But

Eisai forgot to put the same block on its fax lines.

This year, in 1 month, an employee ran up a $1,300 hotline tab. The

company will say only that the worker wasn’t calling a sex line.

“That’s a perfect example of . . . (what) can slip through the cracks,”

says Eisai Treasurer Paul Drahnak. He expects Eisai to save $100,000

a year by turning its telecom operations over to a management firm.

* Inefficient contracts.

 

 

Because of an outdated long-distance contract,law firm Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker wasted $300,000 last year.

The Los Angeles-based firm was in the middle of a 5-year contract

that charged 7.8 cents a minute. When the contract was signed, the

firm saw it as a good deal. But long-distance prices have plummeted.

Businesses now often get volume discounts in the 3-cent to 4-cent

range. Finding the best deal, and anticipating market trends was

beyond the 800-lawyer firm.

“We just don’t have that capability,” says Chief Information Officer

Mary Odson.

Likewise, hotel operator Windsor Capital Group estimates it was

paying $100,000 too much each year on maintenance contracts for

telecom and other technology equipment in its 24 hotels.

One California hotel, for instance, paid 40% more than a Colorado

hotel did for a maintenance contract on telephone switch equipment,

which allows guests to use the phones. The contract was negotiated by

hotel managers, who aren’t telecom experts.

“They are in the guest-services business,” says Windsor Capital Vice

President Sam Sansone. It has since hired outsourcing firm United

Asset Coverage to handle its maintenance contracts.

Complicated contracts

Buying telephone service used to be simple. Before the breakup of

AT&T in 1984, customers essentially bought local and long-distance

service from one company.

But the splintering of AT&T led to hundreds of long-distance

competitors, each clamoring for business customers with slightly

different deals.

In 1996, when Congress mandated more competition in the local

phone business, hundreds of tiny competitors started offering service.

And wireless service, once a luxury, is now a staple. In fact, 51% of

workers with cellphones say their companies pay at least part of the

monthly tab, says research firm Telephia. Also, companies are paying

to connect more employees to the Internet.

As telecom expenses have grown, companies have struggled to

respond.

Most large firms have designated employees watching over telecom

and computer systems. But in small firms, the chore often falls to

chief financial officers, who lack expertise. “Every company in the

world can’t afford to have an expert in house,” says Eisai Research’s

Drahnak.

Also, telecom expenses can be hard to track. For example, Internet

access charges might fall under the budget of a company’s information

technology department. But cellphones, often purchased by employees

and then expensed, might fall under travel budgets.

Consolidating bills can be hard, too. Law firm Paul Hastings has

seven U.S. offices. It buys telecom services from 24 companies. The

bills came in so often, at different times of the month, that they sometimes

got lost or sat on desks until they were late, Odson says.

Getting help

Last year, Odson handed management of the $1.8 million domestic

telecom budget to QuantumShift. Odson expects to save $700,000

this year. One big help? QuantumShift found it a better long-distance

contract.

QuantumShift’s software also searches for billing errors and unused

lines. It consolidates bills, which saves time, and lets Odson more

easily order new services. And it lets her analyze expenses to a single

phone number.

Even after paying for QuantumShift’s services, Odson expects

telecom costs to be about 26% less this year.

Companies that help others cut telecom costs are doing a brisk

business. Privately held QuantumShift had 116 customers as of June,

up from 45 the year before. It posted a 300% year-over-year revenue

gain in its first fiscal quarter. Stonehouse Technologies recently added

20 employees, bringing its total to 60. Veramark Technologies says its

outsourcing revenue has grown 30% in the past 10 months.

Phone firms, too, are trying to cash in. AT&T’s consulting arm

recently redesigned a customer-service system for First Union. It will

save the bank $38 million over 5 years, says AT&T executive Randy

Johnston. That’s because First Union’s customer service agents will

have faster access to more information, which means it’ll take less

time to handle customer calls.

Just as regular consumers can save money on phone costs by shopping

for calling plans that fit their needs and checking bills for errors,

companies can save money by taking simple steps:

* When billing errors occur, report them to the phone companies’

customer service team — not the sales team, says AT&T.

* Make sure disputes are noted in computer systems. That way, a

response is likely to be faster. Also, customers won’t have their service

turned off because they didn’t pay disputed bills.

* After ordering new service, ask for a detailed explanation of the bill.

Companies that don’t pay attention could find themselves in the same

place as Mac-Gray Chief Financial Officer Michael Shea.

“You wake up some morning and say, ’Holy cow. How am I spending

$1 million on communications,’ . . . and no one knows.”

Our Perspective:

This is an old article that appeared in 2001. As the old saying go, “The more things change, the more they stay the same. We see instances like this happening constantly.

How much are you paying for Telecom or voice and data services. I thinks this presents a strong case on why you should be looking at this now!

For more information email george@hbsadvantage.com  or call 856-857-1230

Learn more by visiting us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

 

 

Verizon is up to their same old tricks …

We have been getting feedback from our clients that they have been receiving telephone calls recently from Verizon representatives asking to review their bill and promising savings.

 First, they will ask for a copy of your bill so they can provide you with a comparison of your charges.  Here is the old “bait and switch”, the comparison is incomplete. The base line charge ($15.00 per line) is listed but what they don’t show you are more important — all the fees and taxes associated with those charges. All carriers must charge these fees and taxes. What initially looks like a savings is nothing but deception. To do an apples to apples comparison ask them to give you all the fees and taxes, as they would appear on your bill.

 Buyers beware …

They are also pushing an offer of unlimited calling. This is the hook. You need to drill down and look at each individual line and examine the calling patterns for each phone number you have and all past invoices. Most likely, some of these lines have minimal usage and you will end up paying more for this feature.

 We have seen several examples of inaccurate phone line count.  Verizon’s proposal only indicated 6 lines when in actuality the client had 10 lines. Obviously, the bottom line of the Verizon proposal was going to look much better to the client, until he receives his first bill.

 More than you expect …

If you receive a call promising savings from Verizon, don’t be fooled! Please give us a call and let HBS review the proposal for you. Otherwise, you may end up paying much more for your basic services based on a false proposal.

 Hutchinson Business Solutions is an independent voice and data solutions consultant. Thru our strategic partnership, we represent over 50 of the major providers currently providing these services for business. We provide a free review of your current services and will shop your account to our providers, presenting an overview of the current market opportunities available for your business.

 To learn more about finding savings in the deregulated voice and data market, contact george@hbsadvantage.com or call 856-857-1230.

Find out more information by visiting our website www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

3 Ways a Telecom Management System Will Save You Money
By Steve J Murphy

As reported in Ezine Articles

A telecom management system is first and foremost a money saver. If the telecom system cannot provide a clear reason for you to invest your time and money (but, you may not need to pay for the system, more on that later), then why would you pursue it as a strategy? The return on investment, both hard dollar costs and time and energy invested, needs to be clear before the investment is made.

So, where do telecom management systems generate their payback? Telecom systems certainly create efficiencies in terms of automating manual processes within the IT and finance organizations, but our focus is on the hard dollar savings telecom management systems are renown for delivering. These hard dollar savings are in the “indisputable” elements of the telecom program. The hard dollar savings create a solid business case that managers can take to their executives for concurrence to move forward. If the investment element of the telecom system is low or free, then the only expenses that need to be covered before generating a clear return to the company is the set-up effort.

Where do these returns come from? Hard dollar savings can only be generated buy lowering the telecom bills of the user. This lowering can occur one of 3 ways: 1) by reducing the rates that the existing carrier is bill, 2) by changing the services the user is paying for so service is maintain or even enhanced while costs go down, and 3) by introducing new carriers with superior value propositions. A comprehensive telecom management operation will accomplish these three things and more.

Reducing rates charged by an existing carrier can be challenging. After all, you are typically bound by a contract or tariff, reducing the flexibility that the carrier has in changing what is being charged. Getting rates changed is possible, but it requires work on your part and may also force a contract extension. If you are happy with your carrier, a contract extension may be tolerable. The telecom expense reductions seen in this scenario typically range less than 10%, Telecom carriers in a re-negotiation proceeding do not have a significant incentive to reduce rates, so some sort of loyalty discount is typically rolled out. The two remaining methods of reducing your telecom expenses, however, are preferred.

Changing carrier’s services is a very effective means of lowering current spending without interrupting or interfering with an existing telecommunications carrier contract. Evaluating the specific services at each of your locations, determining whether you can simply disconnect a service, consolidating service to more efficient facilities, or up-grading to a newer technology can yield savings of 10% to 20% if the network has not been optimized for quite some time.

The best savings are usually obtained by actually using new telecom service providers to replace existing services with much more competitively priced services. There are many quality service providers that supply similar quality to the larger carriers at rates in excess of 30% below what the larger telecom carriers charge. Strategies are available for every comfort level, so using an alternative carrier to lower your cost can be extremely beneficial.

Consider using a telecom management platform to tie these three strategies together. Platforms that detail telecom inventory, analyze billing trends, as well as provide flexible analytics are best suited to support cost containment and reduction initiatives.

Our perspective:

If left unchecked, voice and data cost can become a major business expense. As the industry continues to evole, the cost of voice and data have become more competitive while the increase efficiencies will take your business to a new level. For too long business has settled for the mediocresy of service provided by the major carriers.  Significant savings can be found by shopping your account.

Hutchinson Business Solutions provides corporate financial solutions. We are an independent broker who represent over 50 of the major voice and data providers.

Each business is unique. We will work with you to find the right provider that will allow you to increase your efficiencies and address your needs.

To learn more contact george@hbsadvantage.com

Tame Your Telecom Spending

November 2, 2009

As Reported by National Business Association

Copyright (c) 2009 Nermine Shaker
The Sygnal Group

Telecom spending can be a very large part of a company’s operating costs. Companies are always looking to keep their costs under control and telecom spending is one of the more difficult areas to manage.

Even with the increase in value and flexibility from new technology, companies have also seen an increase in their telecom costs. Mobile phones, remote network access and broadband solutions have simplified our workspaces, but have complicated the telecom accounting procedures.

Although you can’t just forgo your telecom services to cut your budget, you can curb and control them. Here are a few ways to tame your telecom budget.

Assess Your Inventory

What do you have? What do you use? Sometimes you don’t use what you have. Take an inventory of all your lines, services, hardware, mobile devices, and contracts. As you do this you may find that employees have left but you are still paying for their cell phones, or departments have closed and you are still paying for their phone lines.

Wireless devices can be a huge drain on your company pocketbook. Sometimes employees are given mobile devices that the company pays for and sometimes they use their own and are reimbursed. Organizing and setting up a company policy for wireless devices takes time but can save you money in the end.

Audit Your Bills

Check your contracts and see if the pricing in the contract matches the pricing on your bill. If not, you’ll need to apply for a credit for those overcharges. If you were promised a refund or rebate in your contract, make sure you received those. If you’ve done a complete inventory, matching bills to the inventory is a great way to identify problems.

Assess Your Usage

Now that you know what inventory you have and that you are paying correctly for that inventory, you need to look at your services with an eye to how your company is using them. Is your company growing or downsizing? Don’t just cut back to cut back. Look at the value the services provide to your company.

Employee personal usage of business telecom services should be addressed as well. If you provide perks like home broadband, business mobile devices and WiFi access, boundaries should be addressed with employees in a telecom company policy. Managers must take responsibility to enforce whatever controls the company puts in place.

If your business has multiple locations or if many of your employees work from home, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) might be a cheaper option. VoIP can connect offices and remote workers and could offer big savings.

Renegotiate Your Contracts

After you have reviewed your contracts and current usage, it might be time to renegotiate your contracts. If it’s been a while, you might be able to get a better deal. Or, after looking at what you have, you may decide to consolidate or cancel some services. Carriers would like to have all of your business, so in consolidating with one, you may get a higher discount. Shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal. Sometimes, it may be better for your business to use flat rates and per-user or per-month services. This will give you a predictable monthly payment.

If it is possible, you many want to consider adding a “business downturn” clause when you renegotiate your contracts. This clause will allow you to renegotiate your contract if there is a downturn in your business, such as having to close one of your multiple offices.

Automate Your Telecom Bill Paying Process

Many businesses use multiple carriers for all of their telecom services. These carriers each send a separate invoice and sometimes they charge extra for sending a paper invoice. Automating your telecom billing and payments can save you money, both in internal processing costs and in staffing resources.

When you automate your billing, you can still have the opportunity to review all your charges. You will have access a variety of reports that can break down the charges by service, circuit, department, location, or carrier.

Consider Hiring A Telecom Management Company

For smaller companies, the business owner is often in charge of telecom spending. As the size of the business increases, telecom responsibility moves from one person to a group or a department.

A telecom management company can help assess your spending and inventory, provide automated billing and can negotiate contracts for you. Since they are familiar with all the telecom carriers, they will be especially helpful in finding you a good rate and negotiating the contract. They can even apply for refunds on your behalf for services that were incorrectly billed.

Dealing with one telecom management person is always preferable than having to deal with 10 different service providers. And, when you work with a management professional, they will always be looking out for other ways to save money in your telecom spending, something you can’t always do.

It’s tough to tame your telecom spending. It takes time and effort. These days, cost cutting is a must and we are all trying to do more with less money. Getting organized, especially in the telecom area of your business will help you to see where you can cut costs and make sound telecom business decisions.

Our Perspective:

Telecom is a very important expense for any business. It represent the companies tie to the public, where service is king.  All things being equal, your ability to respond and meet your client’s needs ranks first. It all begins with communication.

How are decisions made to insure this success?

In speaking with many clients, there is intial hesitancy to examine this process. The fear of disruption lingers. What if we start having problems? Everything seems to work fine now?

But what is the real cost for the staus quo?

You might be surprised!

With recent advances in the telecom industry, savings and efficiencies can be found. We are working with a client right now that has 3 different providers in multiple locations. In reviewing their existing bills we have been able to consolidate these services to 1 provider and provide a savings of close to $50,000 per year.

Where was there existing provider? Why did they not reach out and reviw these options with their client?

Do not be complacient!

Your ability to be successful in today’s business climate relates directly to your abilty to be competitive, control cost and continue to service your clients.

Hutchinson Business Solutions has great success in this area. Contact us for a no cost review of your voice and data expenses. Email george@hbsadvantage.com

As reported in Midmarket CIO News

Tips for cutting costs on telecom spending

By Karen Guglielmo, Executive Editor
20 May 2009 | SearchCIO-Midmarket.com


Telecom spending accounts for more than half of all IT spending worldwide, according to Gartner Inc. That’s why it can be worth the time to scrutinize bills, identify areas for cost savings and shop around for new providers.

 

More IT spending resources
Five key best practices for reducing telecom expenses

IT spending and budgeting

So say consultants and CIOs with telecom experience, who offer the following tips for cutting telecom spending:

Assess your telecom inventory and audit your bills.

To effectively manage telecom spending, the first step is to find out exactly what you have and use, by analyzing your inventory and contracts. Take inventory on all lines and services; you may find that though your company has shut down offices or lost employees, you continue to be billed for those services.

“You always want to consider utilization,” said Michael McCauley, a Project Management Professional at TelPlus Communications Inc., a third-party telecom service provider. “You are paying for all these lines, but are you actually using them all?”

McCauley provides auditing and telecom expense management services to companies that want to outsource these tasks. He said that in working with customers and reviewing their telecom spending and bills, he finds that up to 30% of pricing reflected on bills is incorrect.

“Much of the time the discrepancy is something simple, like a contract pricing code not on the account,” McCauley said. Because of this, companies are often eligible for discounts and credits for overcharges.

At Mannatech Inc., a $333 million developer and provider of proprietary nutritional supplements, weight management products and skin-care solutions, CIO W. Jerome Oberlton conducts a quarterly audit on telecom billing and services in-house. “We actually do a match of our telecom inventory to our bills. It helps to manage costs,” he said.

Automate the telecom billing process.

Most companies use multiple carriers for their telecommunication services and thus receive multiple invoices. Automating telecom billing and payment can save companies money because most telecom carriers charge additional monthly fees for paper invoices. Automation can also lower the internal costs of processing each invoice and free up staffing resources in IT and accounting.

Who’s in charge of telecom expense management?
Who manages spending on telecommunication services differs depending on the company’s need, size and budget. For instance, a global IT director is responsible for managing telecom spending at Mannatech Inc., a developer and provider of proprietary nutritional supplements, weight management products and skin care solutions. This person works for IT but also coordinates closely with the billing specialists in accounting. 

David Williams, vice president of product management and marketing at Covad Communications, said he sees the same type of people in charge of telecom spending for his customers.

“At smaller companies, it’s often the business owner [in charge of telecom spending],” Williams said. “As the size of the company increases, the responsibility shifts to the IT department, starting at the VP level and moving down to the director or manager level, depending on the size of company.”

Other companies outsource their telecom expense management to service providers like TelPlus Communications, which offers multiple telecom expense management services. –K.G.

Automated billing still gives you the opportunity to review your charges, through either a Web portal where you can access inventory and pricing information or through monthly management reports that break down charges by service/circuit type, location, carrier, etc.

Midmarket companies can either set up their own automated telecom billing process and system, or they can partner with a service provider for it.

Consider hiring a third party to manage your spending and contracts.

Third-party telecom providers like TelPlus Communications can help assess spending, automate billing and negotiate contracts on behalf of the customer. These service providers are especially helpful in contract negotiations because they’re already familiar with the telecom carriers, their offerings and where they’re most flexible for cutting costs.

Telecom service providers give companies a “one throat to choke” option for billing, according to McCauley. “Whether you’re working with 20 or 100 telecom companies, you just have one call to make,” he said. “All of your inventory is in one place, and there’s one project manager to call. That alone is a huge time and money saver.”

Renegotiate contracts.

In this economy, it’s a buyer’s market. Customers can demand the services they want or move to another vendor. So this is the right time to closely review your telecom contracts and renegotiate if needed.

Telecom carriers want all of your business, not just a piece of it, according to McCauley. And the benefits they offer for getting all of your business are higher discounts.

For instance if you have 50% of your business with AT&T and 50% with Verizon, you can include a clause in a renegotiated contract with AT&T saying that if you give the company 90% of your business, you receive a certain rate and higher discounts. This is a win-win for both you and AT&T. The telecom carrier gets your committed business and you get better service and rates.

“We’ve even seen some cases where small-to-medium businesses cancel contracts with the Bells and absorb the cancellation penalties because the savings they get with us more than offsets the switching costs,” said David Williams, vice president of product management and marketing at Covad Communications Group Inc., a national provider of integrated voice and data communications.

Another consideration in renegotiating your contracts is the addition of a “business downturn” clause. This allows the customer to renegotiate the terms of the contract if there is a downturn in its business — such as losing a major client or closing multiple offices.

Don’t overpay for wireless — shop around and consider new converged network technologies.

Wireless is a huge area of misuse and a big area for savings.

“Wireless can be a huge money pit,” McCauley said. “Customers are often put on incorrect plans and are overpaying for services.”

We actually
do a match of our telecom inventory to our bills. It helps to manage costs.

W. Jerome Oberlton
CIO, Mannatech Inc.

There are many ways to save with telecom wireless and data services. One is to move to other types of data networks or new technologies, such as Multiprotocol Label Switching, which can typically carry data and voice traffic at lower costs, or Session Initiation Protocol, which customers can employ to consolidate local voice, long distance and data services onto one network.

Oberlton recently renegotiated his mobile contracts. He switched vendors to gain cost savings.

“By moving from one vendor to another, we got rid of some servers on-site,” he said. “This helped get costs down and receive more volume discounts.”

Oberlton did caution others, however, to beware of penalty clauses for switching vendors, which some telecom wireless carriers are including in contracts. These clauses come with steep fees and should be addressed early in the contract negotiation process, he said.

Our Perspective:

When was the last time you took the time to review your current telecom cost and provider? We find that many companies fail to look at these cost. They know what their monthly cost are and they budget that cost for the future.

Don’t get caught up in this fallacy. There are great opportunity for savings by shopping your current cost. Our clients are finding from 15% upto 40% savings. What would this mean for your company?

Would you like to know more? Call us @ 856-857-1230 or email us and ask about our free evaluation george@hbsadvantage.com

by Lora Bentley, IT Business Edge
Aug 3, 2009 9:58:56 AM

Lora Bentley spoke with Julie Dillenbeck, marketing VP at Global Capacity, a telecommunications information and logistics company that helps businesses increase efficiency with supply chain issues for access networks globally. She points out that a lot of money can be saved by optimizing one’s telecom network and pricing.

 

Bentley: Global Capacity deals with telecom logistics. Can you explain what that involves?
Dillenbeck: The telecom market is a very complex one, with thousands of suppliers around the world, and none of them have a footprint that covers the entire world. So when people are looking at telecommunications, oftentimes they have to piece things together. So if we were to do a connection from New York in the United States to London, or Italy, or France, you’d have to figure out which of the carriers can get between the countries and then who can get to “the last mile,” so to speak. Because we’ve been collecting that information from carriers for years, we already know where their networks are and who they interconnect with.

 

Bentley: Saving money is important all the time, but I’m assuming it’s higher up the priority list in this economy. So how do you go about helping customers “optimize” their networks? What does that look like?
Dillenbeck: Well, the customer will come to us and say, “Ok, I have these networks I’ve built in these 32 countries. Tell me if there’s a better way to do it.” There are a lot of different ways to look at that.

 

The first one is to look at inventory and match it up with the invoices that come in from the different carriers. It’s similar to what telecom expense management companies do, but we take it a step further. We’ll say, “Why does your invoice say $120 when you’ve contracted for $100?” and we’ll investigate that. We also validate that they’re getting charged for the right mileage, and if they’re buying a tariff service, that they’re on the right tariff.

 

Bentley: OK, and others?
Dillenbeck: Then, there is what we call a financial grooming. Let’s say they have 100 circuits, and 50 of them are going between the same locations. At that point, we’re looking at aggregation. We can help the customer go back to the vendor and say, “We have these 50 circuits here. It makes a lot more sense to go with an OC3 instead of the T1s.” It saves money and it allows the customer to have spare capacity.

 

The last piece is physical grooming. We’ll take a look at their network and say, “This is great, but there are opportunities for aggregation, or there’s an opportunity to actually move to a new carrier and provide you savings.”

 

Bentley: So they have to physically move their networks.
Dillenbeck: Right. Obviously, not a lot of customers want to do that because they don’t want to disrupt their end users, but there are those who are anxious to do that just for the savings…. We worked with a customer who was spending $3 million to $4 million a month just because of the way they had built their networks. Now their spend is in the hundreds of thousands instead, so it’s a significant savings.

Our Perspective:

This is a great article. We find market opportunities for our clients daily.

Many companies are hesitant to look at there voice and data providers for they are afraid to cause any disruption. They wear their services like a security blanket. 

You hear them say, ” We’re with Verizon or ATT.”  Just think for a moment, what type of personal service do they offer. When is the last time you called Verizon or ATT and spoke to the same person two times in a row?

The market has evolved so much in the last few years. Personal service is important! Communication between provider and the client is essential!

We represent over 50 of the major providers in the voice and data market. This allows us to evaluate your needs. find the right providers that will provide savings and  service your needs.

Personal service is essential and can be found at Hutchinson Business Solutions.

Would you like to know more email george@hbsadvantage.com

You may visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

Come to think of it

June 16, 2009

Has the recent turndown in the economy had an effect on your business?

What steps have you taken to tighten the belt?

Did you reduce the workforce? 

Did you reduce or drop employee benefits? 

In difficult times you may find you have to think outside the box. Reducing the workforce and employee benefits are obvious choices. 

There are diamonds in the rough out there! 

Where you ask? If you only knew!

 Most companies budget for expenses and never really drill down to see if there are opportunities for savings.

 Deregulated Energy: Natural Gas and Electric

 Is your company paying more than $5000 a month on natural gas or electric for your building! 

The deregulated Gas and electric market is the lowest it has been in the last 3 to 4 years. 

Our clients are saving from 15% to 30% on natural gas. 

 

Just in the last week, we saved a client over $45,000 by locking in their Natural gas for the next 12 months.

 

Our electric clients are saving from 6% to 15%

 

Just last week, a client saved over $94,000 by locking in their electric for the next 12 months.

 

How much do you think your company may qualify to save?

The local provider buys gas and electric in the wholesale marker and sells it to you retail.

We put our clients in the wholesale position.

 The savings is yours and falls to the bottom line!

 Voice and Data:

Here is the real sleeper. Many companies feel they wear a safety blanket for they have Verizon or ATT as their provider.

You are paying a premium for that blanket!

Deregulation allows third party providers to use the Verizon / ATT platform and deliver voice to their clients at a discount.

 Our clients are saving from 15% to 40% on their monthly Voice and Data Billing. 

What is 25% of your bill?

 Come to think of it, we haven’t looked at these costs recently?

 Call Hutchinson Business Solutions 856-857-1230. There is no fee for our services!

 Or you can email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Let the savings begin!!!!!