Business Expenses Hard to Manage? Save on Broadband
BY: LUCINDA WATROUS ON MONDAY, MARCH 06, 2017
Long gone are the days when businesses could survive without an internet connection. Even Mom and Pop operations are building out robust online presences for their businesses, going beyond the standard website to include at least a Facebook account.
Getting internet service isn't exactly a cheap endeavor, especially with business tier packages from local providers often costing more than residential packages. And, depending on where you operate your business, you may be pigeonholed into getting service from a single provider.
What can you do when you have no choice but to pay for internet service, but are a small startup, bootstrapping the entire operation with limited capital?
Bundle Your Services
Chances are, you don't need a television service even if you're entertaining clients who must sit in a waiting room briefly before conducting business with you. But, you'll definitely need a phone. Many internet service providers (ISP) also offer telephone services – either in the form of landlines with DSL providers or voice over internet protocol (VoIP) in the case of cable and fiber providers. Opting to combine the services will often qualify you for a discount. Since some providers also provide cell phone services, even if you choose to skip a business phone, you may still be able to take advantage of a bundle discount.
Take a look at Find Broadband to see which providers are in your area. I've lived in Asheville, North Carolina all but one year of my life – and before I checked them out, I knew of three providers in the area. To my surprise, there's 12 more companies in my area to choose from. And with this site, I know exactly what kind of coverage and speed all of them have – and get the number to setup service right there on the screen – so I can call and get quotes right away. The list of popular landmarks in my area and the coverage availability stopped me from calling companies that don't provide business service at my address, too. It's a major time saver, and we all know how valuable time is when you're an entrepreneur.
Sure, there not all as fast as my provider, but I've not ever received the 100 Mbps Charter claims to provide, anyway…which brings me to my next point.
Check Your Speeds
Use a service like Speed Test to see what kind of speeds you're getting. Though not all providers offer multiple package with varying speed maximum, if you're with a provider who does, you may be able to save a few bucks a month by downgrading your package. Chances are the difference will be so small you won't notice.
Negotiate Your Terms
Sometimes, all it takes is one phone call to customer service, and you can walk away with a lower bill. While this approach isn't likely to work with brand new customers, it is a nice trick for loyal customers who've been with the same provider for a while. You may find a killer introductory price that you get locked into for a year or two, only to find it shoot up exponentially at the end of that term. Why should you have to pay more because you've been with them longer? Those offers are geared toward customer acquisition, but one of the most important lessons to learn is customer retention is where the money is.
Call and ask to go over your bill, and if there are any special offers your account qualifies for. If the answer is no, usually, you can get what you want by threatening to go to another provider in your area.
I've known many people who bounce back and forth from one major provider to another, just long enough to take advantage of those introductory offers – because the time they spend away from provider A makes them a prime candidate for the savings again. When provider A refuses to renegotiate those terms, they go to provider B and start the process again. It's a bit of a pain in terms of repeated installations and equipment exchanges, but it keeps the bills and services consistently more affordable.
Don't Rent the Modem
It's tempting to go ahead and rent the modem because if something happens to it, you can get it replaced. But, whether you're buying a modem outright, or renting it from the service provider, it's a business expense. (I will say I'm not a tax professional, though.) Most providers charge anywhere from $8 to $10 a month to rent your equipment – adding an extra $96 to $120 a year to your bill until you buy one yourself. If you have the service for 10 years, that's $960 to $1,200!
Think about it for a second. If you spend $120 on a combination modem/router that comes with a one-year warranty and lasts three to five years – and it could last longer – that comes to a cost of $2 to $3.33 per month – and the longer it lasts, the cheaper it becomes.
Changing providers can be a pain, but it's sometimes necessary to ensure you're getting the best value for your money. You can always change back later when capital increases, or if you find the quality of service to be subpar for the money.
To ensure continuous service, call and schedule the new installation before calling to disconnect the current service. This way, you're not left scrambling to figure out how to get work done, or how to provide support for your customers.
The internet can reduce business costs in other areas, making it well worth the investment, no matter which plan or provider you select. But that doesn't mean you should waste money on a bloated plan with hidden fees, especially if there's a better deal in your area. You can always take the savings and invest them back into other areas of your business, helping you grow faster.
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