Whether the Android phone, the iPhone, the Windows Phone, or the BlackBerry is best, is mainly down to personal preference. What is clear, however, is that businesses need cellphones as part of their arsenal. Indeed, it is a key component in the overall communications strategy of a company, regardless of their industry. Not being able to be in constant communication can mean the end of a business nowadays. However, that does not mean that a company should simply pick the first business phone plan that they come across. There are many such plans around, each with different features, functions, pros, cons, and prices, and you must investigate each of these before making a decision.

Do You Need One of These Business Phone Plans?

Before you sign up to a plan, you need to think about the communications needs of your organization. If you have a need for mobility, then you will also need cellphones. However, if you spend most of your time in the office, then they may be a wasted expense. Hence, you need to consider whether you need business phone plans at all and, if so, how many.

Your Calling Habits:

If you have determined that you really need cellphones, it is time to dig deeper, by looking at the calling habits within your company. Pull up any old phone bills you have and determine how many calls were made, for how long, and where to. For instance, if you make many international telephone calls, it is important to find a plan that provides you with a good price for that.

Additionally, you have to consider whether you will let each employee who needs a cellphone to have his or her own unit, or whether it is more relevant for your organization to have a shared pool of mobiles that can be used ad hoc. Do also be aware of the fact that the more business phone plans you have (mobile and landline), the more monitoring and management will be required.

Employees who have a customer-facing role, who are often away from the office, who have to be always reachable in case of an emergency, and who work outside of normal business hours are the people that are likely to need a cellphone. You need to make sure that you find a plan that rewards you for the number of plans you take out, while also providing you with the features you need for the individuals who will need to have a phone.

How to Find a Service Provider:

It is now time to start the search in earnest and choose your carrier. The recommendation is that you select at least three different ones and compare their plans, their range of services, their coverage, their contracts, their networks, and so on. Some of the specific things you must know about the different business phone plans include:

Whether they focus on national or local calls. Most businesses automatically go to Verizon or AT&T, as they are the largest national players. But if you work in a local area, then local providers may just have much better deals for you. They are often cheaper on data and voice packages and they tend to have a more personalized approach.

What is their coverage map. This should be available on the carrier’s website. Look at how well the network covers your local area and any other in which you conduct business. Having network coverage where it matters is vital.
What type of security features they offer. Thanks to smartphones, we can do most of our work on a mobile device nowadays, including accessing sensitive company data. Hence, security must be your top priority. Having a remote ‘wipe’ function, for instance, could be something to look for.

Understanding the Plans:

You may feel quite overwhelmed by the different plans that carriers have on offer. They will offer different amounts of data, emails, texts, and voice minutes, which you must look into. You can expect, however, to have to take out at least five plans in order to be eligible for business phone plans. Some of the specific things you should look for in the plans include:

The exact amount of minutes, texts, and data you receive and what it costs to exceed that.
Whether there is a business version of ‘friends and family’, meaning that you can call certain numbers, such as those on the same network or on the same plan, for a reduced price or even for free.
Whether you can share the plans by allocating unused minutes, texts, or data to other phones.
How much data you need, particularly since very few plans still offer unlimited data, but most do charge quite a lot for exceeding the data that has been made available to you.

Another important to thing to know is that you can negotiate with your cellphone provider. Many larger carriers like Verizon and AT&T are trying to attract small businesses, which means that they are happy to talk about the price in order to attract more people. While there is often little that you can do about the monthly price, you can negotiate more minutes, more data, additional lines at a discount, and so on. The worst that could happen is that the carrier says no, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Remember the Bottom Line:

Once you have decided which phone plan is right for you and you have taken out the contract, you will have to continue monitoring your plan. You should examine it every once in a while to ensure you are still getting good value. Make sure you do this regularly when you first take out your plan. If you notice that you don’t use the data or minutes provided to you, or that you use more, for instance, then get back in touch with your carrier and make changes where possible. And do also remember that you are not contracted for life. If you are not happy with the things that are offered, you are under no obligation to stay with the carrier.