Small Business Phone System Buyer Guide
Choosing a Telephone System for Small Business
Small business phone systems exist in countless configurations, and offer an ever-growing range of advanced features and benefits. Keeping employees connected encourages the sharing of information – which not only makes employees more efficient – but also spurs discovery and collaboration.
With so many choices available, the following considerations can serve as a guide for choosing the right small business phone system for your company:
- Features Required: Even the most basic office phone systems contain features such as call transferring, programmable extensions, built-in voicemail, and an auto-attendant, while more advanced systems incorporate video conferencing, presence sensing technology, integration with web applications, and much, much more.
- Number of Employees: How many employees will be using the phone system, and what kind of growth is planned? Use these questions to determine how many actual phones, lines, and extensions are needed and eliminate systems that are not suitable for your business.
Small Business Phone System Options
Next, take a moment to learn about the most common phone system set-ups for small businesses:
- KSU-Less Phone Systems: These familiar desktop multi-line phones equip the smallest offices (2-10 employees) with basic professional features like customized messages, call forwarding, extension dialing, and more. KSU-less systems are self-contained, and the phone itself may be programmed to perform preferred tasks.
- Key System Units (KSU’s): KSUs are the bridge between KSU-less and PBX phone systems, making them perfect for small to medium sized businesses (5-45 employees). Most key systems provide advanced call handling and routing features but require a central routing device.
- Private Branch Exchange Phone Systems (PBX): While more cost effective for larger companies (50+ employees), a PBX system is great for handling large call volumes, streamlined workflows, and less equipment thanks to the use of a central routing device.
- Voice Over IP Phone Systems(VoIP): The sleekest small business phone systems today run on Internet Protocol (IP) networks, which come with significant cost savings, a simple wiring solution, and lightweight hardware. However, because VoIP systems run over Internet lines and calls are routed over a data network, any outages or limited network bandwidth may impair these services. VoIP systems may act as a digital PBX or as a hybrid option, which uses a combination of analog and Internet-based connections.
How Much Does A Small Business Phone System Cost?
Average Small Business Phone System Costs
The two largest phone system expenditures are the hardware and the cost of the service plan. However, phone system quotes should also include a breakdown of any charges for installation, maintenance, and repairs. For those with space constraints, a hosted system is an option wherein the equipment is stored and managed offsite by a third party vendor.
Note that the following prices are based on new, out-of-the-box equipment
- KSU-less office phone systems range from $125-$250 per phone, plus a one-time setup and installation fee.
- A Key System Unit that supports 6 lines and 16 extensions typically costs $390-$450. For a system that supports 8 lines and 24 extensions, costs range from $500-$1,000 depending on added features.
- A complete PBX telephone system costs $850-$1,000 per employee. The cabinet is the most expensive part of the system, which ranges in price from $1,500-$10,500. Companies with 50 or more employees will see the cost per employee reduced dramatically.
- VoIP handsets typically cost around $125-$275 each plus a monthly service fee ($20-$90 per month for unlimited data plans). If purchasing outright, a new business-class router costs $200-$500. For example, a WAN (wide area network) router with 16 Ethernet ports costs around $450.