There was an interesting post recently on the SCORE Women’s Success Blog about small businesses saving money on toll free lines and dedicated fax lines. The writer posits,

“If you’re running a small business or nonprofit and are trying to cut costs, let the toll-free number go (or get a new number and limit its use…keep it off the Web!). And unless you have to send or receive tons of faxes, get rid of the dedicated line for that too.”

She offers the following money-saving tips:

  • Get a flat rate plan with the phone company for unlimited long distance (the writer uses AT&T).
  • Use your cell phone for long distance calls.
  • Get rid of (or do not get) the 800 number with the catchy name (e.g. 1-800-lemon-law, used by a firm in my area). Most of the good ones are already taken, and with the rise of the Web, more people are Googling for your business than looking in the phone book.

She also advocates getting rid of your dedicated fax line for three reasons. First, if you get DSL for your broadband Internet access, the same line can be used for faxes, as the signals are different and do not interfere with one another. I have been doing this for years and have never had a problem.

Second, she says that oftentimes things do not have to get there THAT fast, so regular mail is just as good. In our profession, however, I am not sure that is the case. There is often an urgency to what we do that makes faxing practical, but perhaps the better alternative would be to scan and e-mail instead.

The third point has to do with a service she uses called eFax. She states,

“Since I rarely receive a fax, I use a free service from efax.com. I don’t publicize the fax number, and only give it out as needed. As long as I don’t receive more than 20 pages a month, the service is free.”

The catch, of course, is that she rarely receives a fax. Can we say that? Unfortunately, pricing for E-Fax is not necessarily cost-effective. One package is $16.95 per month for 130 pages received/30 sent with $.10 per page thereafter. The bigger package is $19.95 per month for 200 pages received with $.10 per page thereafter, with NO included sent pages; they are all $.10 per page. Do the math for yourself to see if this would work.

Perhaps the better solution would be fax software, which would give you much the same capability as a fax service such as eFax. Ultimately the biggest benefit is making another step towards a paperless office, since physical copies of ingoing and outgoing faxes need not exist. More and more in my bankruptcy practice, I am scanning and e-mailing documents to clients, rather than faxing. This gives me an opportunity to save on paper and get things to clients faster, who may not have a fax machine.

The bottom line is that business communication is evolving, and we must evolve with it in order to offer better service to our clients as well as keep our overhead down. Scanners with sheet feeders are much more common in offices, especially with all the all-in-ones on the market today. Scanning and e-mailing helps you to maintain a paperless office and communicate more effectively with recipients without fax machines. Encouraging senders to do the same saves you on paper and toner. It is a direction in which we must all move eventually.

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