How to better choose, manage wireless plans to realize cost efficiencies

Businesses are increasingly dropping their landlines. Many of them are adopting Voice over Internet Protocol, while others are giving their employees cellphones as their first source of communication. That’s led to an increase in costs for companies, something that can get out of control if not managed properly.

“Wireless plans don’t just pertain to cellphones and tablets,” says Marc Schwalb, Strategic-Partner at Schooley Mitchell. “It also covers fleet tracking, GPS systems, WiFi, routers and Bluetooth. So, there’s a lot to consider, and plan for, before making the switch.”

Smart Business spoke with Schwalb about how to keep costs contained over the life of your wireless plan.

What should companies look for in a wireless plan?

One primary consideration is the quality and availability of the network. This is especially important for companies that are working in remote areas, have headquarters in rural settings or that frequently travel across several states. Provider coverage can vary depending on the area, so one provider might be the best network in one part of the country, whereas another provider is the best in another, so that’s important to consider.

Service level is another consideration — how easy is it to connect with the company to work through issues or simply get somebody on the phone and talk to them. Some providers have very responsive customer service, while others tend to leave customers on hold longer. Similarly, some providers are more apt to make mistakes when shipping orders, while others are less error prone.

What should companies be on the lookout for in a wireless plan?

Companies should look carefully at plan offers when considering a switch. Wireless companies recently are encouraging customers to buy fully unlimited plans, preying on the fear of overage costs. While these plans eliminate overages, they are very expensive. Often, companies will give up their legacy or grandfathered plan — a plan they’re on that’s no longer being sold — to get into an unlimited plan. But that can result in a loss, so companies need to carefully compare the plans to determine which is the most cost effective for their use. Before making such a switch, companies should pay careful attention to the benefits they may be losing by canceling their legacy plan.

There are techniques that can be used to explore cost reduction opportunities. For example, plans can be split into different accounts. Sometimes companies try to avoid that because they don’t want to get several different bills, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Companies can combine everything into one bill; they just need to ask.

Also, by splitting up the plan with different accounts, companies can get creative. For instance, to avoid paying overages, and without switching to an unlimited plan, do an analysis. Identify all the high-data users and put them on individualized or smaller group unlimited plans. Users who need far less data can go on a capped plan that’s less expensive.

Companies should recognize that prices frequently change, even for devices that are currently being paid for. Once a phone goes out of contract, a company can reduce the line rate for that phone by taking advantage of the new pricing. Wireless providers aren’t likely to share this information, however, so it can be valuable to have a professional explore the current contracts to find opportunities for savings.

Who can help companies determine the best wireless plan?

A cost reduction consultant can help. Managing a wireless plan, especially plans with upward of 100 devices, is a full-time job. Companies often assign this responsibility to an IT manager who typically has many more important responsibilities than plan management, so it doesn’t get much consideration. They’re likely not looking at the invoices each month to see if there are billing errors. They’re often not accounting for new high-data users. They’ll likely miss moving devices that are no longer being used by an employee to new employees who have not yet been issued one. By working with a diligent, dedicated professional, companies are far more likely to realize cost savings. ●

INSIGHTS Business Services is brought to you by Schooley Mitchell

Marc Schwalb



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