Buying a Telephone System Doesn't Have to Be Like Buying a Car

My oldest son recently turned 16 and now has his drivers license. He’s a typical teenager with many activities.  He plays in the school band, is active in church, works out several days a week at the gym, and sometimes has time for a job.  We decided to purchase a used car for him so that he can drive himself to school and other places.  When I say “used car” I mean something cheap with a good engine.

No offense to any car salespeople, but I despise buying cars.  Like many of you, I simply see automobiles as a tool.  A tool used to transport me, my family, my employees and my tools from Point A to Point B.  We do not update vehicles every year, but we tend to run them until the wheels fall off.  So, to me buying a car is something that must be done, a chore, not a joyous occasion.

To make matters worse, I always think people are trying to rip me off when I buy a car.  Now, I’ve gotten some good deals over the years, at least I think I have, but do you ever really know?  Trying to find a cheap reliable car for my son had to be the worst buying experience I’ve had.  I really could not make up the events we encountered trying to find a decent car.  Everything from the car we went to look at had “just been sold, but we have this one that is only twice as much” to a guy who didn’t actually own the car and gave us an address to an apartment complex at which he did not live.

Why am I writing about this on my “Communication Ponderings” blog?  I just want you to know that buying a telephone system from North Florida Communications for your Jacksonville, Gainesville, or Ocala, Florida Business will not be such an ordeal.  We’ll be honest with you, with no pressure and we’ll be here to stand behind your purchase. (We’ve been selling and servicing business telephone systems in North Florida since 1990)

When we give you a quote, it will have the exact amount you’ll need to pay.  We’ll include telephones, control equipment, lightning protection, battery backup, installation and training.  To make sure you know the exact amount you’ll need to pay, we also include sales tax on our quotes.

Most of our competitors do not include sales tax  on their quotes, which often makes our prices look higher. Many of them do not include battery backups or lightning protection for your phone system either.  We could leave those items out of our quotes as well, and then hit you up for more money later, but is that the kind of company you want to do business with?

If you need a new business telephone system in the North Florida area, why don’t you contact us and see how easy the buying process can be?  You can even fill out this form to get started.

Larry Nazworth

Who’s the Best Dial Tone Provider?

In today’s economy, business owners and managers are looking to save money wherever possible, including with their business telephone service provider.  Naturally, people want to know who provides the best combination of service, quality and price.  The answer isn’t always simple.
 
Obviously, the first part of the answer will come from who can provide phone service (dial tone) to your business.  If you’re in Gainesville, you can get telephone service from AT&T and Cox cable.  Ocala can easily get dial tone from CenturyLink or Cox.  Jacksonville has AT&T and Comcast.  Did you know there are other companies that can provide business telephone service in these Florida cities at very cost effective rates?  Windstream and Earthlink are a couple that come to mind.
 
After we know your location, the next determining factor for finding the best telephone service is  knowing how many lines you need. What type of lines (POTS, PRI, SIP, etc), and what type of internet speed you require.  We’ll also need to know about your long distance needs.
 
After these questions are answered, an experienced consultant can steer you to the right telephone service provider for your small business.  Not what package one company provides, but what package, with which provider is best for you!
 
The price for this service?  It’s free.  Contact us today!

Disaster Recovery

If a natural disaster was to strike North Florida, would your company survive? Would your employees know what to do if your building went up in flames one night? If so, what would happen when a customer called your office? No answer? Busy signal? Every organization, no matter what the size should have a disaster recovery plan in place.

The object of any disaster recovery plan is to maintain some semblance of order during an emergency and allow essential business activities to continue. Telecom and data needs are an integral part of this plan.

You should have remote call forwarding on your primary incoming telephone number. In the event of an emergency, you can immediately call forward your lines to a temporary place of business or even your home. Or your calls could be forwarded to an answering service, such as Answer-Rite. The answering service would not only take all of your calls, but could connect callers with employees at their home phones or on cellular phones. You must have a method to quickly reroute your incoming telephone calls.

Part of your plan must include an up-to-date employee list. This list should have all of the employees home telephone, pager, and cellular numbers. Employees "emergency contact" numbers should also be included in case an undesirable event should occur at work. Another essential part of your plan is a vendor list complete with telephone and fax numbers and E-mail addresses.

The actual written plan should be put into a three-ring binder. There should be a master copy located in a secure place of your business. At least one key person should have an updated copy of this plan at their home. This way employees could be notified of an after-hours situation and properly instructed.

Another consideration is your computer system. Always, always backup your files regularly. Approximately 43% of businesses in which all information is lost never reopen. Of those that do reopen, 29% ceased operations within two years. Backup tape drives that can backup your whole system can cost less than $250, a small price to pay compared to the cost of your business. Always keep a recent backup somewhere other than your office.

A laptop computer would be a big help during an emergency. You could use it to fax and send E-mail, and even run your customer database. As essential as computers are to business today, a laptop is an investment you should consider.

In the event of a natural disaster, what will be the critical requirements for your business. For example, hospitals and emergency medical centers will have to be able to treat patients. Insurance agents will have to be able to take care of policyholders claims. Our company will have to be able to restore our business customer’s telephone systems. What will be the priorities of your business during an emergency? What plans should you make to insure that those priorities can be accomplished?

The demands on your telephone system will actually increase in a natural disaster. Hospitals and emergency medical centers will be inundated with calls from patients loved ones. Insurance Agencies will be flooded with calls from policyholders with claims. Home repair centers and rental companies will certainly have their phones ringing off the hook. What can you do to handle such a massive increase in call volume?

You can have one or more people assigned to answer and route calls during an emergency. Your telephone system must be programmed to route incoming calls to these secondary answering positions. An auto-attendant would be a great help. Even if no one could get to the business, employees could remotely retrieve messages. Also, automated attendants could be remotely programed to connect callers with employees at their homes, on their cell phones or temporary offices. Of course telephone systems and automated attendants have to have power. Battery backups are a must and a portable generator is something that should be considered.

A disaster recovery plan is essential to every business. The plan must include a method of performing your business’ most critical priorities. You have to plan a method for contacting employees quickly in the event of an emergency and giving them instructions on what to do and where (from home, temporary location, etc. . . . ) to do it from. You must have systems in place that can help you overcome a disaster such as uninterruptable power supplies, automated attendants, call forwarding, auxiliary answering positions, cellular phones, and laptop computers.

The only way you can truly test your disaster recovery plan is to put it to use during an actual emergency. Hopefully, that day will never come. However, preparing and evaluating your plan with the help of your associates will enable your business to survive most any disaster.

Sincerely,

Larry Nazworth
Gainesville: (352)224-3040
Ocala: (352)547-3230
Jacksonville: (904)562-2100

Don't Give Up!

Perhaps many of my fellow business owners have been feeling a bit gloomy over the state of the economy. I know I have. Here in Florida unemployment is currently at 12.3%, an unheard of rate. Contrast that with a record low rate of 3.3% just four years ago. Add in the tax deadline that just past, and the fact that our political leaders seem not to have a clue, one cannot help but fight the blues.

As many of you, I’ve had to make some tough decisions about my business. With virtually no new commercial construction, and no one adding staff, our industry has slowed. Is your business in the same boat? What should you do? Give up and close the doors? No, that is only the last resort.

Small business owners literally pour their blood, sweat and tears into business. Employees become friends, not just a bottom line that can be easily cut. I started North Florida Communications in 1990, right after my 21st birthday. Should I simply give up and go look for another job? NO WAY! And you shouldn’t either!

Times will get better. The economy will turn around at some point. When it does, my business will be there to assist our current customers, and many of the new entrepreneurs who will emerge. I encourage my fellow business owners to take the actions necessary to keep your businesses afloat.

My friend, I know how hard it is to make the tough decisions that may be necessary to keep your business going. I also know that fear of making the decision can be gut-wrenching and that fear can keep you from taking the necessary actions. Do not be overcome by that fear! Make the decisions that need to be made to help your business survive. When I think of someone who was able to overcome his fear to make the tough decisions, I think of George Washington.

During the French and Indian War, Lt. Colonel Washington served as an assistant to British General Edward Braddock. In July 1755, a fierce battler broke near Fort Duquesne, now the city of Pittsburgh. During this horrible battle, more than half of the British soldiers were killed or injured, while the French and Indians had few causalities. Did Washington cower in fear? No, he continued to encourage and lead his men. They had to retreat in order to fight another day and eventually go on to victory.

During that battle, Washington had two horses shot out from beneath him. Later, when the battle was over, he discovered four bullet holes in his jacket, yet he miraculously was uninjured. . The defeat wasn’t his fault, (the battle plan was Braddock’s) but Washington stayed in the battle and made the tough decisions.

Is the current state of your business your fault? If so, correct your mistakes. If you’ve made the right decisions, your business may still be suffering because of the sour economy. You must "play the hand you’re dealt" and make the decisions necessary to keep your business going. It won’t be fun, but at least you’ll be around to fight, and win, another day!

Larry Nazworth

Minimize Telephone Mediocrity

Greetings! I hope things are going well for you.  Hopefully you had a great summer, both personally and in your business.  During my summer reading I came across a great tip for using the telephone more effectively.

In his book, Success Is Not An Accident, Tommy Newberry suggest 5 ways to control your phones calls.

Minimize Telephone Mediocrity

  • Before you call, jot down the points you want to cover.
  • Be prepared to cut off the conversation quickly by acknowledging how busy you know the other person is.
  • Do easy, mindless jobs while on the phone, such as signing letters or organizing your desk.
  • When possible, check you messages and return all necessary calls at the same time.  Limit phone usage to a couple of specific periods during the day.  You''ll immediately become aware of the extra time and mental energy this frees up.
  • Practice the phone-management Golden Rule: When you call someone else, value their time by asking, "Is this a good time?"  Don''t assume they have time to talk to you, and never interrupt simply because you want to chat.

 North Florida Communications

Those are great suggestions from Mr. Newberry.  He's a great "life coach" and terrific author.

Success Is Not An Accident, and neither is a well running telephone system.  If you need help with your business telephone system, network cabling, or background music system, I hope you will contact us at North Florida Communications.

Sincerely,

Larry Nazworth

Gainesville: (352)224-3040

Ocala: (352)547-3230

Jacksonville: (904)562-2100

How to Use Voice Mail More Efficiently

Have you ever called someone only to be told that, "Mr. Busyman is not available, would you like his voice mail?" Of course you have. In fact, Jeffery Mayer, in his informative book Time Management for Dummies, tells us that almost 80 percent of all business calls are not completed on the first attempt. If the vast majority of business calls require leaving a message, doesn’t it behoove us to know the best way to leave a voice mail message? Even more importantly shouldn’t we know the best way for us, and our staffs, to take messages?

In today’s competitive business environment we cannot afford to offend any customers by failing to return calls. We must be able to communicate with our clients and our vendors in the most efficient manner possible. Here are a few tips to use with voice mail:

( When leaving a message, or recording a greeting, always take a deep breath. This will give your voice more volume and will help slow down your speed of conversation. It is very important that you speak slowly, with a clear, strong voice.

( When leaving a message, always say your name and phone number at the beginning and at the end of your message. You should also spell your last name and any other words that may have an unfamiliar spelling, such as cities, streets, or company names.

( Always smile while talking on the phone. Believe it or not it really comes through the telephone.

( Tell the callee when you will be available for a return call. This helps eliminate telephone-tag.

( Leave as much detail as possible. For example, "This is Joe Prospect at Wannabuy Company, (352)378-7730. I am calling in reference to your proposal #780. We would like to know how much it would cost to add two more telephones to this quote. I will be in until 5:00 P.M. today. Joe Prospect, P-r-o-s-p-e-c-t at Wannabuy Company, (352)378-7730." This message would allow the callee to have the pertinent information at hand when the call is returned, saving both parties time.

( If at all possible, when setting up a voice mail system, leave the caller an easy way to speak to a person. "At any time you may press ‘0' to speak to an operator." This will avoid customers being trapped in your system, otherwise known as Voice Mail Jail. If customers get trapped in Voice Mail Jail too often, they tend to escape by going to your competitor.

( Use announcement boxes on your system. Always let the caller be able to choose an announcement box that has routine information such as mailing address, fax number, business hours, etc. . . . This saves the caller and your company time.

( Change your message often. If you are going to be out of the office until Thursday of next week, put that on your message. Let the caller know when he or she can best reach you. If possible, tell the caller to talk to your assistant if the message is urgent.

( Always call into your voice mail system to see how it sounds. Is the voice good and strong? Is the voice speaking at a good speed? Are the menu options logical?

( Most importantly--return your calls. Check your mailbox regularly and return the calls promptly. After all, how many times will you leave a voice mail message to someone who fails to return your call?)

Larry Nazworth

We Don’t Sell Telephones, We Sell Communication Solutions

It took me a while to understand this, and it sounds rather odd coming from the "phoneman", but North Florida Communications doesn’t specialize in selling telephones. We specialize in selling communications solutions. See, I told you it sounded odd.

In today’s high-tech world of online shopping, you can easily find the cheapest price for most any product within seconds by using Google. Is this true with the products or services you sell? It certainly is with telephones. Quite frankly, you’ll often find a cheaper supplier of a particular phone than us. There are many suppliers on the internet that sell with single digit margins that we simply cannot touch. But what about support?

While we may charge a bit more for a phone, you’re getting more bang for your buck. What happens when the telephone you bought off the internet has a problem? Will your internet supplier come to your office to fix it? Will you be able to call them and speak to a knowledgeable tech? Will they be able to program your system? Will you have to send the bad unit it for repair and wait two or more weeks without a phone? None of this would be a worry if you bought a phone from North Florida Communications.

Am I making sense? If so, consider this...my job as the owner of this company is not to sell you a telephone, but to sell you a solution that will help you communicate better with your clients and to make sure that solution runs trouble-free. Anybody can sell you a telephone, but it takes someone with considerable experience to interface that telephone with a system that allows callers to be routed smoothly and professionally.

We want to look at the communication system as a whole, not as parts. We want to assist you in setting up a system that works for your employees and, most importantly, your clients! The question in the back of my mind is, how can we make this system work better?

Granted, we’re not the only company that can provide this service. We have several local competitors that are top-notch. What we do cannot be compared to someone who sells telephones at the lowest price.

As always, please contact me if I can be of assistance to you.

Larry Nazworth

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Jacksonville (904)562-2100
Gainesville (352)224-3040
Ocala (352)547-3230