Archive for November, 2011

 

Which are the best small business telephones?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

This is a very difficult question to answer in absolute terms, because so much will depend upon your own business circumstances. However, we hope the following few points may help you think further as to what may be the best small business telephones for you:

  • try to keep in mind that the best small business telephones for another organisation may not be the best solution for you – only an analysis of your requirements and a matching of those against available options, will be able to help you identify suitable solutions;
  • clearly, any solution you select for business telecoms must be capable of supporting the functions you require – for example, if you have offices in different locations, you may wish to make use of conference calling between multiple sites, something that some systems and infrastructures can support;
  • reliability is typically a critical selection criteria for many businesses large or small and that may suggest that using providers with a globally recognised brand and quality reputation (e.g. Siemens business telephone systems) may help avoid down-time and problems;
  • there is a rather inelegant word called scalability that is used to describe how easily a system may be expanded to grow as your business grows – some systems have easy expansion capabilities through plug-in compatible modules and facilities, so they may be more able to cope with your changing needs;
  • post-sales support is also an area to pay attention to – that’s because any business telephone system may occasionally go wrong and if it does, you may expect that you’ll receive excellent and prompt support. It may be advisable to make sure, however, that your supplier is capable of delivering that;
  • it may also be sensible to ensure that the provider of your telephone system has a verifiable track-record in systems installation – some potentially excellent equipment has delivered sub-optimal post-sales service simply because of installation errors due to a lack of expertise;
  • in the final analysis, the business of selecting the best small business telephones may not always be easy – we’d be only too pleased to offer you further help and advice, so why not get in touch today?

The Medway Business Awards 2011

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The St George’s Centre at Chatham Maritime was a fitting venue for the Medway Business Awards last Friday. Formerly a naval church, the building offered us a grand setting for our celebrations, we even had the figurehead Nymphe, keeping a watchful eye over us.

Our host Rob Smith guided us through the evening introducing us to Councillor Chitty, who gave an inspiring welcome address, followed by magician Richard Bellars, who managed to keep us guessing “how did he do that?” with his mind blowing tricks.

A raffle was held for the Mayor’s charity which raised much needed funds for charities such as Age UK Medway, Cerebral Palsy Care Kent and The Samaritans.

Finally we reached the awards and the finalists were presented with their certificates. Yours truly had the daunting task of finding a route through the maze of tables in order to receive Telcare’s certificate. I had visions of tripping over a handbag along the way and landing flat on my face but thankfully I made it to the stage without mishap and experienced a very proud moment for the team.

Moving on to the winners of the Medway Business Awards, this year the award went to Minimise Ltd, a company contributing to carbon reduction worldwide through the distribution of energy efficient products. Huge congratulations go to them; we wish them every success with their future plans.

It really was an enjoyable evening with over 200 guests, so you can imagine the buzz in the room; champagne corks were popping and laughter coming from all angles. Personally I was thrilled to see three lovely ladies from the Women in Business Group I attend. They are always enormously supportive so an added bonus for me to know they were close by. Zoe Cairns, Sian Murphy and Suzanne Wood can be seen with me in the photo below. More photos can be seen on our facebook page www.facebook.com/telcareltd

What is cheap telephone systems maintenance?

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

If you have a relatively modern system, you may be wondering quite why you even need to worry about cheap telephone systems maintenance?

The theory

In fact, it’s not obligatory that you do – but it might be a sensible step to take.

The reason for that is simple and it is to do with a common misperception about warranty periods versus cheap telephone systems maintenance contracts.

If you have a new or newer system, it may be covered by a combination of manufacturer’s and possibly provider’s warranties.

Some people believe that the warranty will take care of everything and that it effectively absolves the system’s owner from all responsibility from problems, at least until such time as the warranty expires.

In fact, that’s typically not the case.

The manufacturer’s warranty typically covers only defects and faults in their product – it is not a total blanket guarantee that everything will be resolved irrespective of its cause.

What else can go wrong?

Modern business telecoms systems require a little maintenance from time to time.

Just as with a new car it is still necessary to periodically check the oil and water etc, in the case of business telephone systems, it is necessary to check their performance statistics and log files etc. It may also be important to check routine things such as that all of your wall sockets have been correctly fastened and are functioning well with the devices plugged into them etc.

This sort of servicing is not typically covered under warranty and it may be even more important if your system is out of warranty.

Taking no chances

Given the sums you may have invested in your technology and its criticality to your daily operation, it may not be wise to take chances and skip this sort of preventative servicing.

Of course, what is cheap to one person may not prove to be cheap to another and selecting an appropriate servicing contract may require a little thought. Certainly, it may be advisable to find one with guaranteed services and it may be possible to incorporate that into a support agreement (for problem resolution) also.

At Telcare we provide a section of guaranteed, tailor-made and cost-efficient telephone systems maintenance services to suit every need and every budget. To find out more, please get in touch.

Why Exhibit?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Why Exhibit?

As Telcare exhibit quite frequently we often get asked whether we consider these types of events successful. The answer is yes but the emphasis has to be on how you determine ‘successful’.

As we sell telephone systems, which can be a fairly hefty purchase, we don’t expect visitors to walk by our stand and announce that they’ll have two of those please. So instead our aim is to merely introduce ourselves.

We go along to these events focusing on relationships. During the day we meet fellow exhibitors, organisers and visitors. Some we know well, some not so well and others we have yet to meet. Our aim is to support our friends, forge new relationships and strengthen those existing connections.

We have found that it is extremely important to remember that the group of people sharing the event will be made up of customers and suppliers, in other words people who are looking to buy and to sell. The key here is being open to buying regardless of the fact that you have paid for an exhibiting space. The reason for this is plain, if everyone went to sell sell sell then we’ll all find ourselves in a bit of a pickle. If we put on our buyers hat and view visitors as prospective suppliers and open the channels of communication the outcome will be far more enjoyable, and in the long run far more successful. You’ll notice I said in the ‘long run’, that’s because we believe nothing happens over night, success comes from momentum. The more you exhibit the more you will learn; the more you learn the better you exhibit. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to increase the chances of doing business.

Of course there are other things to take into consideration when exhibiting, such as the position of your stand, stand etiquette and the ante and post exhibition plan, but that’s all for another day. In the meantime you can find Telcare at the b2b2012 on 27th January 2012. http://www.b2b2012.com why not come and say hello?

Selecting new phone systems

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

It is not too unusual to go into an office (or any other form of professional environment) and see something of a rag-tag collection of old telephony. It may be difficult to immediately understand why the people concerned have not invested in new phone systems.

Financial constraints

Nobody can doubt that in tough economic times, there is a constant pressure to defer expenditure until a better day arrives.

In the case of business telephone systems, this is sometimes done under the justifications of:

  • nobody can see your antiquated technology but you; and/or
  • what you have seems to be working - so why change it?

Of course, in some situations these may be valid expressions of reality and a sensible business decision but in other cases they may be rather paper-thin.

Visibility and risk

Firstly, you may be surprised at how easily others can see your technology.

This isn’t just a case of people looking for the latest fashion but of practical problems in interacting with your business telephony, such as when they ask you to transfer them to one of your other locations, only to find that you’re unable to do so.

This may communicate the wrong message about your professional operation because if you are not seen to be taking your operations seriously then it may be unreasonable to ask your customers and associates to do so.

Secondly, you may think your current antiquated system is working well but new phone systems may offer you a vast range of additional features that simply cannot be supported on your existing system.

You are, therefore, missing out entirely on the opportunity to drive your business or operation forward through the use of the news facilities (e.g. conference calling and so on).

Reviewing the position

There is little doubt that many of us have to juggle conflicting priorities for our finances.

Trying to understand what new phone systems may be able to contribute to your operation also isn’t entirely easy. It requires a systematic analysis of your current business operations, your current telephone set-up and knowledge of the technology available in the marketplace.

We believe we have the skills to help you realistically assess your position as outlined above.

So, rather than simply writing off new phone systems as either unaffordable or unnecessary (or possibly both), why not talk to us for an initial consultation? It may be your first step on the road towards a cost-effective new business telephones system.

Guest Blogger - Rebecca Garcia

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Guest Blogger – Rebecca Garcia

This month we are keeping things in house and turning the spotlight on our very own Rebecca Garcia. Rebecca, who has been with us since the beginning of time, and does a superb job running our accounts and in particular keeping the cash flowing. Sounds like an easy task you may think but Rebecca has a unique approach, she keeps score…Hello I am Rebecca and my role is 'chief bean counter' (or accounts person!) basically ensuring that the day to day financial side of the business runs smoothly.

Keeping score, as Lisa puts it, is my way of measuring where we are, so we know where to improve and what procedures to have in place. I’m big on keeping records which helps not only with monitoring but with saving time. I have a record of every customer’s payment history, as I believe that knowing your customers and adapting your approach when collecting payments, certainly aids the process and keeps the cash flowing.

I know the average time a customer takes to pay; I know who is responsible for making the payment and their particular procedure. For example, a small business may employ a part time book keeper who is in the office on certain days; it is in my interest to know when that is, in order not to waste time calling on the wrong day. By the same token I make it my business to know if an invoice has to be approved and signed off before it can be passed for payment. By record keeping, I can also spot any abnormal behaviour and hopefully work out a solution before any major issues arise. I give regular feedback to the team on all positive and negative aspects.

At Telcare we work along the lines that “prompt payment makes good business”, we support our suppliers by observing their terms and ensuring that we always pay on time. In turn, we are most grateful to those who pay us on time whether this is within our usual 30 days, by the annual maintenance renewal date or within pre-approved payment terms. However, it is true that there are those who ‘can’t pay’ or ‘won’t pay’. In these circumstances we have a set procedure that involves documented conversations, polite intentions and a reasonable deadline. This has yet to let us down! Legal action would always be viewed as a last resort.

In line with our IS0 14001 certification we aim to keep things environmentally friendly, which means we email invoices and statements and make online payments wherever possible. More than 80% of our customers now pay us by standing orders or direct online payments and I plan to improve that in 2012.

Thanks Bekki, you do a terrific job, I appreciate you sharing with us