Notice something? Your internet and wireless bills are climbing. If you don’t believe me, just take a look.
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Most of my clients have been discovering the same. There are plenty of reasons why. Cloud based applications have taken off and you’re likely using them more than you were in the past. Data usage, particularly video and images, has grown exponentially over the past few years. Your people are transferring larger and larger files among themselves. And speaking of your people, your staff (particularly those Millennials who now make up more than half of the workforce) are doing more work with their mobile devices from both in and outside of your office location. That means that more information is being shared through collaboration, communication and storage applications than ever before.
All of this is driving up your costs…fast. So how can you keep this under control? There’s no magic wand. But, with a little effort, you can save some big bucks. Here are three secrets I’ve learned from both clients and those in the industry.
Jason, a controller at a roofing company near Philadelphia, likes to “get audited,” as he calls it.
“Because we have so many guys out in the field doing work, our wireless bills are enormous,” he told me. “So each year I invite in a competing wireless service to take a look at what we’re doing.”
Jason, a client of mine, shares copies of his bills and then invites the competitor to take a crack at doing something better. He makes sure that whatever costs “savings” are proposed are not only long term (and not just a short promotion), but also figure in the penalties he would need to pay were he to break his contract with his current carrier. When it comes to wireless carriers, Jason doesn’t get emotional. Most of the time he says he’s found that making a change wouldn’t be worth it. But he has changed carriers three times in the past 10 years.
“At the very least,” he says, “it gives me comfort that what I’m paying my current carrier is competitive.”
Be aggressive with your current carrier.
A friend of mine, Rebecca, is an accounting manager for a piping distributor. She is much more loyal than Jason. She prefers to work with her existing carrier to reduce costs rather than frequently switching. To do this successfully, however, she must be extremely diligent. Her company spends thousands every month on wireless charges. Saving five or ten percent has an enormous impact on profitability. Rather than accepting competing bids, like Jason, she instead makes it a point twice a year to review charges with a dedicated representative from the carrier directly. She’s fully conversant on the details of each invoice (which, as anyone who’s read one of those things knows, that’s easier said than done). She questions charges and she pushes for discounts and ideas for keeping the costs under control. Being proactive, she said, is the best way to keep an eye on these costs.
Make sure you’re using all the services available.
Many of us aren't taking full advantage of all the services that our wireless provider offers. That's the biggest takeaway I learned from Eric Jagher, a vice president of business sales for wireless carrier U.S. Cellular (a former client of mine).
For example – one option is expanding to even more devices.
"Wireless devices can enhance or transform the way we do business – from placing a small device in a fleet vehicle to track location, increase productivity, optimize scheduling and reduce fuel costs, to monitoring the conditions in facilities remotely (temperature, humidity, motion, access), to hundreds of other ways." Wireless companies like U.S. Cellular are aggressively pushing services that take advantage of Internet of Things and GPS technologies and you may be able to bundle these services on to your existing plan for an attractive price. Also, don't forget about data backup – this is yet another service that wireless carriers offer and that many of us forget to use. The more we use the more discounts we get.
Twenty or thirty years ago, wireless charges didn’t even exist. Then again, twenty or thirty years ago you weren’t paying for water or TV either! Wireless and internet charges have become a significant line item on our income statements. You can keep these costs under control, as long as you’re willing to give them the attention they deserve.