Small Telephone Systems Verses Multi-line Business Phones

Choosing the right telephone system from start is always the best path, but not always the most economical. Before you head down to your local electronic store and pick up the cheapest multi-line business phone you can find, here are few pointers you should keep in mind.

Many multi-line business phones have a pretty decent feature set such as voicemail, caller ID, call waiting ID, 3 way calling and intercom (in multi phone setups). These phones integrate the Key System Unit (or KSU) into the phone itself, which means each individual telephone functions as its own “mini phone system.” The term KSU, (Key System Unit, Key Signaling Unit or Key Service Unit) dates back to the early day’s phone systems, it’s basically “the Brain” of the phone system. All call processing data and telephone line interfacing is carried out by the KSU. For many small offices with less than 4 phones (extensions) and 4 telephone lines, these multi-line phones are adequate and economical. However, as a business grows, the many disadvantages of these phones begin to show their merits.

By comparison, multi-line business phones are sold with the marketing term, “KSU-less design,” which translates (in buyers minds) to lower overall costs. Small telephone systems on the other hand include a separate KSU unit or “Brain” in addition to each telephone. A major disadvantage comes to play when you are interfacing your phones with the telephone company lines. The KSU acts as the “line interface,” for a phone system, all major system connections terminate at the KSU. Now with each multi-line phone acting as its own “mini phone system,” each phone now needs direct connections to each telephone line.

A single telephone line consists of 1 pair of wires. Almost all multi-line phones support up to 4 lines, meaning each multi-line phone needs up to 4 pairs of wires or the equivalent of a standard Cat5e cable. As you begin to add more KSU-less phones to your office you must factor in the cost to install another drop of cat5e (or cat5) cable. You must also account for the additional termination blocks in your telephone closet where all these phones must be “Bridged” (or shared) to the 4 phone lines. As you can imagine, for installations with more than say 4 or 5 phones the wiring aspect can get pretty complex. Anything over 6 or 7 phones will be a wiring mess, if done unprofessionally, which adds to the cost of these low budget systems. However, this bridged connection is how multi-line phones “intercom” one another. By sending a signal over each bridged line, each extension can communicate without actually tying up any of the 4 phone lines. As long as every multi-line phone is connected to all 4 lines (or matching number of lines if less than 4), each phone can intercom each other internally while keeping the phone lines free for external calls.

Small Telephones Systems on the other hand, which come equipped with a separate, dedicated KSU unit, are at a distinct advantage in both areas. Having a single KSU unit means a single interface point for the telephone line connections. Many small telephone systems need only a single pair of wire to connect each extension telephone. What this means is if you are deploying a number of phones in one particular area, you can save dramatically on cabling costs by having your contractor “split” the single Cat5e cable into, at most, 4 single telephone jacks! – This becomes very cost effective as you deploy additional phones. (However, many pros will only split single Cat5 cable once for 2 telephone jacks leaving the remaining wires as spare pairs). Cable management becomes much easier (and neater) as you need not worry about bridging 10 phones to 4 telephone lines. One single pair of wires (to connect to a telephone) of the 3 or 4 pairs in a standard telephone cable is enough for as many lines as the small telephone system can handle since the actual line connections are at the dedicated KSU unit and not at the individual telephone.

Another plus for the small telephone system is the ease of transitioning to a larger phone system. The wiring scheme for the most part will remain the same albeit installing more cable drops to new areas. Not so much the same for the multi-line business phones. Depending on how each phone was “bridged” to interface to those 4 telephone lines, this entire wiring scheme may need to be undone as most small (and large) telephone systems require individual (not bridged or shared) connections to the KSU.

Programming wise there is one disadvantage when comparing small business telephone systems to multi-line business phones, which can be viewed as multiple disadvantages. Since each individual telephone functions as its own KSU it also functions as its own Voicemail unit (if equipped). Which means if you want to enable an Auto Attendant feature (where your callers are greeted by a company recording instructing them to press 1 for Joe Boss, 2 for Sales Manager etc…) you will have to record this greeting for as many times as you have voicemail enabled phones (up to 4). Here’s why, with most multi-line business phones, the voicemail feature includes a personal voicemail box for the extension and an optional auto attendant feature. The auto attendant feature can only handle one call at a time; ergo if you want the system to answer up to 4 incoming calls simultaneously you need at least 4 auto attendant enabled phones. So technically speaking you must record the same auto attendant greeting 4 times, 1 on each phone. You must also enable the system mailbox for each of the 4 phones to accept general messages. You now have 4 different phones/voicemail boxes in your office where you must check for general messages. This is known as a general mailbox, which is a default destination for callers who do not press a menu option or dial an extension. This scenario is not efficient for larger setups but may work for smaller ones.

With a small business telephone system, there is just one central voicemail unit which can handle multiple calls at once. Storage times are much greater and there is just one mailbox for general messages. You can also take advantage of advanced features (if equipped) such as voicemail to email (where the system sends the voicemail in a standard wav format to your email address), which in this fast paced world can be a BIG time saver and added convenience.

One last point on this topic to cover quickly; with the advent of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) continually proving its cost effective existence, many businesses find themselves wanting to take advantage of these savings. Many small business telephone systems on the market today are equipped to handle VoIP telephone lines through either a simple hardware or software upgrade. An upgrade may include adding an Ethernet (or media) port to the system or if already equipped, simply enabling this port through software activation. Simply plugging this unit into your company LAN and perhaps minor firewall configuration you can now start saving on land line costs by calling out over less expensive VoIP lines.

Multi-line business telephone can benefit as well but through a 3rd party VoIP gateway. This gateway converts a VoIP line (sometimes called a “Trunk”) to a standard telephone port. You will need as many gateways as you want lines, (or opt for a multi-port unit). However you may have to plan on spending some time configuring and adjusting the settings of the unit to obtain the proper volume levels while minimizing echo and other artifacts that may be induced when converting the signal from a standard Analog telephone line to SIP or other VoIP protocol. Many high end units come with built in (hardware or software) echo cancellers and noise suppressors which minimize these adjustments (and work very well) but increase the cost of the gateway dramatically.

To conclude, although it may seem like great savings early in your start up phase, for needs of 4 or less external lines and extension phones, the multi-line business phone can actually prove to be a cost effective solution. In my humble opinion these multi-line phones are better suited for a home office (or SOHO) situation. If you have big plans to expand exponentially (and don’t we all!) I recommend you at least consider a small business telephone system. Although a bit more initial investment is required, the benefits far out way the cost disadvantage if not cancel it out completely.

Copyright © 2009 Damian Parkins for PBX Interactive, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Echo Weed Eaters – Why They Are the Best Weed Eaters?

Weed eaters are important tools for landscaping. They are instruments designed for trimming hidden areas like corner fences, posts or around trees where mowers are unable to reach. They also help in pruning plants, bushes and grass. There are various weed eaters available in the market. But Echo weed eaters are reputed for their presence in the market for over thirty years. Echo produces the best commercial eaters. The equipment is lightweight, ergonomically sound and has a super strong motor.

The functioning of eaters is same for all but they differ in power sources. Gas or oil, batteries or electricity either powers them. They come in different power ranges, prices and sizes. People who do not have too much of weeding activity ideally goes in for electric eaters. They work best for small green patches. There is not much maintenance needed and they are easy on ears compared to gas eaters.

Battery eaters are less noisy and with improvement in technology their battery life has improved a lot. Though they depend on electricity for charging the batteries, there is not much air pollution they cause compared to the gas weed eaters. The best part is that they are cordless and so easier to use. You have flexibility of using them in small areas and they are very lightweight.

There are various models of eaters by Echo. You can go in for the one that suits your lawn the best. Here are the various models:

GT-200i: This model has a curved shaft trimmer that is very easy to start.

SRM-210: The shaft trimmer is straight and perfect for average commercial consumption.

GT-200R: This has a curved shaft trimmer and is lightweight. It is characterized by i-30 start technology. This is a gas powered weed eater and is great in edging and trimming. It works well even with tough weeds and tall grass.

SRM-210SB: The split boom design is capable of accommodating all Pro Attachment Series attachments.

SRM-230: Super powerful, durable and great functioning

SRM-230S: It has a steel drive shaft that makes it ideal for commercial usage.

GT-251: Best performance and powerful model with a modern profile and advanced technology.

SRM-210i: It has a super easy-to-use trimmer with i-75 and Rapid-Loader head.

If you wish to start up your own lawn maintenance business, you must definitely look to investing in eaters by Echo. Even if you plan to buy weed eater for your lawn, you must consider going for Echo. They are superb quality products and their customers are happy customers. They have excellent performance records and there are no problems faced by people who are using these eaters.

Echo weed eaters have earned two thumbs up from users all over. They are pretty long lasting and customers refuse to switch to any other brand. The proof of this is there for you to see on the Internet. The various customer reviews and feedback have proved that they are the best performing eaters. There is hardly any maintenance needed to keep them. The weed eaters are basically lawn trimmers and the ones manufactured by Echo attack the toughest weeds. Hence, if you are planning on one, do check out all the models of Echo weed eaters.

How To Build Trust In Your Online Business

When somebody goes online to search for products or services, they are instinctively suspicious. This is even the case with big, multinational brands. Most people are fairly educated about the way in which the web works, and they understand that just about anybody can set up a website. Even if your business is Nike, the people that visit your website will always be on the lookout for signs that you may be an imposter.

Of course, suspicion is never helpful when you are trying to secure a sale. It is your task to convince potential customers that you can be trusted. Unfortunately, they rarely give you more than a few minutes to convince them that you are a legitimate, responsible business that can deliver on all of its promises.

If you sell products, customers want to be absolutely sure that you will dispatch items quickly and they will be received as described. If you sell services, your potential clients need to believe that you can do the things that you claim.

In both cases, customers often need to be persuaded that they can trust you with their confidential payment details.

In this article, you will discover just how crucial it is for you to be build trust on the Internet if you hope to turn your business into a success. Read on to learn why trust is so important, the disastrous consequences of getting it wrong, and some practical ways to get it right.

Customers See Your Online Business As Smoke and Mirrors

Imagine that you are walking the high street searching for books when you see a sign stuck to a door. It says ‘Cheap Books Here!’ and so you go inside, briefly noticing the name of the shop at the top of the window.

Once inside, you realise that the shop is empty. There is nothing more than a curtain in the corner of the room. A voice echoes from behind it.

“What book are you looking for?” it booms.

You respond into the air.

“Yes, we’ve got that one. £10 please.” A hand creeps around the curtain, waiting to take your money.

If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t give your money away that easily! You haven’t seen the item, the person who is selling it to you, or any proof that this is the kind of business you can trust.

But this is the same experience that customers get when they decide to shop online for products or services. They are expected to pay for something that they haven’t physically seen, to somebody that they don’t know anything about.

Your business may be honest and upfront. You may have the best products in the world and the best service to back them up. But everyone says that.

Why should your visitors believe you?

Three Trust Building Features Of The Best Online Businesses

If there is a simple answer to the complex question of building trust as a business, it is reputation. If the potential customers that visit your website can read feedback and comments from satisfied customers, they will be more confident in your abilities to do what you claim and deliver quality products and services.

There are many ways that you can leverage the power of customer feedback. Here are just three to get you started:

1. Use Customer Testimonials On Your Website

The easiest thing to do is just publish a long list of testimonials on your website from existing customers. If you are doing good business you will receive a lot of positive feedback naturally, but always ask for permission to publish the review along with some customer information.

Many online businesses publish testimonials without saying where they came from. This is a particularly spurious way of doing business, and will probably raise more concerns than having none at all.

So what do you do if you have no existing customers to quote and are just getting started with your business? A great technique is to ask reputable online organisations and individuals to help you out. Perhaps you could send a free sample of your product to niche bloggers, and ask them to provide testimonials in return?

2. Sign Up To An Independent Reviews Website

Once you are more established, do not assume that the need to build trust disappears. In fact, as your customer base grows and you have less time to concentrate on each individual visitor, it can become even more difficult to spend time on bolstering customer confidence.

There are many external websites and business directories that include business reviews, and these are great tools for building trust and also winning new customers.

At FreeIndex, the leading UK business directory, you can create a listing for your business free of charge. This public profile will contain information on what you do and how people can get in touch.

But FreeIndex also offers the capability for customers to post reviews and increase your overall rating. As your number of reviews increases, you can add a badge to your website. This has two significant effects – you can show potential customers that you have received lots of positive feedback, with the added authority of an independent website.

Some other great places to get your business reviewed are Yelp and Google Places.

3. Give Your Customers A Voice That Can Be Heard

Finally, if you have enough customers to support it, integrating discussion with your website is a highly effective way to build trust.

A message board, or forum, gives visitors the chance to start their own conversations about your business, your products, and the wider industry. As these individuals discuss your services, potential customers can quickly see that you have lots of happy customers.

Of course, starting a message board opens the door to negative comments. Hopefully, you will not receive any of these! If you do, though, turn them into positive opportunities by being professional and supportive. After all, this is your chance to show potential customers just how brilliant your customer service is!

Your web hosting provider will usually be happy to tell you which options are open to you when it comes to launching a forum on your website. Usually, you can install a message board like phpBB – which is free – automatically with a script installer that is included with your plan.

Several plugins are also available for WordPress that offer message board functionality. You can explore them at wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tags/forum.

Security For Your Online Business

Of course, reputation is only one side of what makes a trustworthy business online. People don’t just need to trust that you can provide great products and services – they also need to trust you with their confidential information including:

  • Credit Card Data
  • Address Details
  • Passwords and Logins

The first thing that people check when parting with this kind of sensitive data is to look at the security features of your website. All confidential data should be sent through Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. The way that you prove your trustworthy nature when it comes to this information is with an SSL Certificate.

SSL Certificates are issued by companies that vouch for the security processes that you have in place. Your web hosting provider should support SSL, and can help you to get an SSL Certificate for a small fee.

Although there are alternative ways to take payments online including Paypal, an SSL Certificate does more than tell customers that data is being transferred securely. It tells them that you are a trustworthy company overall, responsible in the way that you conduct business online.

Be A Real, Accountable and Reachable Business

Finally, perhaps the most important thing of all when it comes to building customer trust is just being a real person, not a faceless business name without connections to the real world.

It almost goes without saying that your website should tell visitors everything that they need to know about who you are and how you can be reached. By publishing your phone number, a mailing address, and a company registration number if applicable, your visitors can get in touch to check you out before they make their purchase, and be confident that they could reach you if something went wrong.

There are many reasons that people shy away from giving out this kind of information their websites. Some people expect to receive nuisance calls the moment they put their phone number online. Others don’t like the idea of publishing their home address, but do not have a business address to use.

These are understandable reasons, but let them go. If you want customers to give you their trust, you’ll need to give them something in return.

Be an open, honest person and visitors will see your business as open and honest too. Show them that you are a real human being that they can trust and they will always put their trust in your online business.