When people are starting a Bay Area small business, they usually have several visions in mind. They have their big metaphorical vision, for where they want the company to go, how they want it to grow, and how to achieve all their goals. Then there is the normal human daydreamy vision, picturing yourself closing deals, making customers happy, providing a foosball table for your small but dedicated cadre of employees. When envisioning the perfect office, we often think of a hive of activity, with phones ringing off the hook, and people buzzing around with determined energy.
There’s something there that is a bit anachronistic in this scenario, however, and that is the phone ringing off the hook. What “hook”? We’re entering an era where that phrase is going to essentially be a metaphor, and not a way to describe anything in reality. Businesses are embracing going entirely mobile for their workforce, and ditching landlines altogether. Mobile is the way that clients are going to reach your business, so it makes sense to adapt to them. Going mobile can change your Bay Area small business for the better, if you understand its power.
The Ungrounded Generation
As of 2014, the last year for which statistics are available, a full 40% of American households had no landlines. This percentage spikes in urban areas, where younger people are ditching the cord altogether. This makes sense, of course. Why have a number where it is impossible to reach you if you aren’t near it? Why be tied to a phone that can only do one thing? Where individuals are going, many businesses are following.
Now, to be sure, there are still clear benefits of having landlines in your business, including having an interconnected system for transferring calls, and of course the fact that landlines don’t have limited batteries. However, depending on the size and nature of your business, it should be possible and advisable to cut back on the landlines in use and replace them with smartphones.
Outfitting your employees with smartphones offers a lot of benefits, including:
- Uninterrupted customer service. You shouldn’t have to worry about closing the Jenkins account because she called after your people had left for the day, or were in the middle of the foosball tournament. It’s the Jenkins account! It’s way too important! The huge majority of people will give out their personal smartphone numbers, but for B2B, people often still rely on the company line. If there is just one number to reach their contact anytime and anywhere, you won’t have to worry about missing.
- Business apps that make work a breeze. Having a smartphone plan for your employees means taking advantage of the galaxy of business apps out there. The ability to work together on documents from across the country, the ability to share Powerpoint slides, transfer data, and bring the office everywhere is increasingly invaluable to businesses. Especially for a small business, which has to be extremely nimble to compete, having a suite like Google Apps or Microsoft can cut down on your budget for everything, including office computers.
- The economy of scale allows it to be cheaper. Buying yourself a smartphone costs a certain amount, but the cost is less, relatively, if you buy smartphones for your family as well, because of family plan discounts. Imagine spreading that out over a business. The best mobile tech companies work with businesses looking to go mobile, and offer discounts on phones, accessories, and plans.
- Tech support for landlines has become nearly non-existent. Since landlines are lower down the technology rung, it is harder to get good service for them. More than that, it is harder to find experts who can integrate landlines into your connected business model. However, with partners like ClickAway, support is always at hand. We know what Bay Area small businesses need to thrive. We understand what going mobile means, and our mobile place for small businesses help you make your business smarter and faster. We work with you to understand not just where you are now and what you need, but where you want to go, and how to get there.
- It’s a morale-boosting benefit. Small businesses have tight margins, but still want to reward good employees. Having a smartphone plan can be a hidden benefit, a cost-reduction for them, and something that reminds them that your business is a pretty good place to work.
Deciding If Going Mobile Is Right For Your Small Business
Of the 28 million small businesses in America, 22 million are self-employed people with no additional employees. For those, going mobile is barely even a question: you have to be on-call at all times. For other businesses, deciding what to do can be a little more complicated. There are a few things to do to figure out your plan.
First, ask yourself: what are your phones used for? There are some businesses, like law firms, where people are talking to clients, judges, and other lawyers all day in their offices. For them, landlines still make sense. Bur for other businesses, where less time is spent in an office surrounded by files, and where mobility is more of an asset, a landline is an unnecessary expense.
Look over your phone bills, carefully. Does the cost of maintaining this system still make sense? Or, as is often the case, does it make sense in some areas but not in others? You can go down and figure out which departments would benefit from a smartphone and which won’t need it (depending on the size of your business).
A few key points to consider:
- Does your business make a lot of cross country calls? If that is the case, a smartphone plan with no long-distance charges often makes the most sense.
- Would texting help your business? Depending on what services you offer, many customers want to interact via text or other social media, making smartphones vitally important.
- Can you cut back on office size? A huge percentage of your expenses are often in office rent. If your business is small and mobile enough, you can have a smaller office where you just meet clients and occasionally get together with your employees, lowering your bills. If you want to do this, going mobile is the only choice.
It’s a new world for businesses, and surprisingly, many are slow to act. It’s hard to say why—maybe the nostalgic vision of phones ringing across the office is a hard one to let go of. Maybe people think that is a signifier of a “real business.” But it’s a different business environment today. Having a the cacophony of competing ringtones might not be as harmonious, but it is every bit as real, and demonstrates a far more efficient, responsive, and forward-thinking office.