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Recently Copy Express has had a lot of work come in for business cards and stationery thanks to Vodafone discontinuing support for email for their clients. Business which had a ‘@clear.net.nz’, ‘@paradise.net.nz’, etc email address suddenly found themselves in a situation where they had to scramble to get new ones, most of whom ended up at gmail, hotmail, and live.com. This resulted the business having to update all their marketing to have the new address and passing that on to existing clients. This can lead to the situation where business may lose customers because their customers have the old contact details, miss the new ones, then give up and go to someone else when they cannot reach your business. To prevent this situation I want to discuss some simple steps you should follow.
Thanks to the internet, being able to set up all your lines of communication is easier than ever. It just takes a little bit of planning, and some small expenses.
If all your phone calls happen on your mobile, then it’s simple to change phone companies as they are required to transfer your number. In many cases it’s just filling out a form on their website and waiting a day or two for the change over to happen. If you have a landline, that’s more troublesome as landlines are tied to physical phone exchanges, so if you move location your may have to connect to a new exchange so you’ll have to have a new number. One way around it is to get a free phone number which isn’t tied to any physical location, but that’s a costly option. Another way is to ditch the landline completely and go Voice Over Internet Protocol. These digitally based phone systems rely on the internet so the number you hire from the VOIP can connect to any phone you like and moved between providers. Here at Copy Express, we use VOIP as our phone system, allowing us to have a low cost internal PBX to manage all our phones, giving us the ability to add or remove phones (including mobiles) on the fly, and even have calls redirected to our mobiles should our local connections fail. It does take time and money to set it up but it does give you the flexibility to meet your changing business needs. As a side note, it looks like the phone company will phase out landlines in favour of VOIP over the coming years as the fiber network roll out continues so you might as well be ahead of the curve.
Huh? Who uses faxes these days? If you must have one (if you’re a lawyer, insurance agent, etc) then use a VOIP based systems instead of paying for a fax line. Most VOIP providers can supply a number where faxes will be converted to an email and sent to you. If you have to fax to someone, they can reverse the process. A lot less costly solution for the rare times you need faxing.
Okay this is a trickier one. With the demand for postal services continually shrinking, a lot of businesses are dropping post boxes and other forms of mailing address. As someone who gets all their bills electronically, the only time my mail box get used is for mailers, local newspapers, and flyers. Still for situations where real mail gets sent out to you, you do need a physical address. Normally were your business is located is fine as that’s the place where posties and couriers will be dropping things off. It’s also interesting to note that generally, customers will perceive a business isn’t as legitimate if it doesn’t have a physical location.So to keep the flexibility for a changing postal address there are two rules of thumb. Firstly have your address on your website as most people look up such things through online searches these days. Secondly where you do have to have a postal address on physical items, like business cards or letterhead paper, it makes sense only ever order enough to take care of your next three or six months of needs. This is where small run printers like us at Copy Express are the idea solution to the situation, allowing you to order ‘just enough’ in a ‘just in time’ time frame.
The internet is where everyone does their business theses days. If you don’t have even a landing page for your business, you’re going to lose out on a lot of potential customers. Now for some businesses, using one provided by their internet provider website hosting package will work fine, a ‘www.your_business_name.internet_company.net.nz’ style of name. The only problem is that if you change provider, you lose that address as the internet company provides it as part of the service.A better solution is to buy your own internet address (domain). It’s just like a mobile phone number that can move with you as you change website hosts. You have to pay a licence the address every year but the cost is generally a lot less than a cheap cell phone plan and you can get discounts for prepaying for several years. At the time of writing, I was able to price two years of a ‘.com’ with a ‘.co.nz’ for less than $50 a year as an introduction price, but realistically you can pick up a ‘.co.nz’ for about $60-150 per year running costs including paying the website host to point the domain to your website.
As outlined at the artical opening, relying on a internet provider for your email address is risky, if they decide to change the email system or drop it completely then you lose a major line of contact. Now going with a free email site, like gmail or hotmail, isn’t considered to be as unprofessional as it once was simply as everyone needs an email address and they work just fine. That being said, if you want to take your image to the next level of professionalism, then having the email address use your web domain name is the way to go. Again most internet domain providers offer the option of one or more email address to your domain (ie sales@your_business.co.nz) for an additional annual charge. Again I able to add a single email address to my test ‘.com’ for an extra $10 a month with the same features as a generic gmail account.
What I have covered are the biggest ‘addresses’ you have to keep relevant to stay in business, and planning to make them independent of anyone provider makes it easier to change them without disrupting your customers ability to contact you.
Need advice on managing these small but important parts of your business? Both Copy Express and Business Express will be able to you help you with this in different ways. Why not call us to find out more.