How to Keep a Lid on Mobile Phone Costs

Small business owners are always looking for ways to trim their budgets and eliminate unnecessary spending, but when it comes to the mobile phone bill, they can be hard to predict. The amount due each month is constantly fluctuating because of changing data usage amounts among employees, making it hard for owners to budget accordingly.

“Data plans are seeing a lot of flux--whether it’s unlimited or usage base,” at a time when people are becoming more dependent on mobile phones or tablets to do a lot of things, says Mike Pugh,  vice president of marketing at  j2 Global Communications (JCOM), the provider of cloud-based services for businesses.

But there are ways for owners to stay on top of and reduce their mobile phone bills and ensure they aren’t paying too much for their service.

Step 1: Know your plan

Many business owners fall into the trap of staying with the same mobile provider and plan year after year without re-evaluating it to make sure it still fits their usage. “A lot of customers get into a plan when they sign up and never completely monitor exactly how it suits their needs,” says Pugh.

Pugh suggests owners analyze their bills to make sure the services they are paying for are ones actually being used. When renewal time comes around, Pugh says to be aggressive when negotiating a plan and be willing to leave for a different carrier.

Step 2: Use Wi-Fi whenever possible

For many small business owners, their mobile phone is their only phone and gives them access to Wi-Fi.

Switching to Wi-Fi whenever and wherever possible will not only lower data-usage costs, Pugh says it also gives better performance.

“Even if you have an unlimited plan, Wi-Fi gives you a better connection,” says Pugh.  “For someone using the phone for business and wants to save money, it’s critical.”

Step 3: Use VoIP on top Of Wi-Fi

Small business owners should research and download apps on their phones that enable them to make cheap Internet-based calls. Apps like Skype and Google Voice, will save even more money. “When you are making and receiving calls over VoIP, using Wi-Fi there’s no cost,”says Pugh.

Using a mobile phone abroad can be costly, but using VoIP can reduce unwanted costs surprises, he says. For answering-type services, Pugh says eVoice has a new iPhone app that enables users to make and receive phone calls using a Wi-Fi connection or a 3G/4G network using VoIP. The service costs $12.95 a month and provides a phone number with a professionally-recorded greeting and menu for different extensions.

Step 4: Use Family Plans

For owners with less than five employees, they can set up a family plan to cover employee’s work mobile phones. Many carriers offer special rates for customers that have multiple phone lines in one family.

While this requires owners to manage their “families” usage and phones, they can pool minutes, which can reduce monthly costs.