With prices falling, you should pay less for telecom costs these days. But you might actually be spending more than your competitors and not know it. To find out, benchmark your telecom costs against other small businesses in your industry.
Small business telephone bills dropped by 10 percent in 2003 and are likely to fall at a faster rate this year, according to a study by the CompTel/ASCENT Alliance and the PACE Coalition. Reasons: increased competition among telecoms, the growth of bundled services and lower local and long distance rates.
So what should you be paying? Check out a new Small Business Administration (SBA) survey of 458 small businesses.
The SBA survey says companies with four or fewer employees pay an average of $256 per month for all telecom costs. That includes $103 for local services, $54 for long distance and $73 for wireless. Companies with five to nine employees pay an average of $593 per month, which includes $209 for local service, $125 for long distance and $181 for wireless.
More small firms use cell phones as their primary work phone. Proof: 25 percent of small businesses pay more for cell phone service than for their local and long distance combined. Construction firms spend the most on wireless bills.
Small businesses are still slow to employ the latest Internet technology. Examples: The study says 21 percent have DSL services, 3 percent use wireless broadband and 4 per-cent have high-speed T-1 lines. Only 3.3 percent of small businesses make phone calls on the Internet using VoIP services. (See 4/19/04 issue for VoIP details.)
Nearly 80 percent of small businesses prefer bundling telecom services, which saves money. The most popular bundle: combining local, long distance, wireless and Internet service.
To read the survey, including industry breakdowns, visit www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs236tot.pdf.