06/02/2015

By Dave Millett, Equinox


Telecoms are an essential part of any pub or restaurant business. Managed correctly they can save you time and money, and attract new customers. However many pub and restaurant owners are paying too much and have technology that isn’t helping them run their business or attract new footfall.

Here, we look at some of the trends in telecoms for pubs and restaurants and how they can be leveraged. We will also cover some of the tricks of the trade that can catch out the unwary buyer.

Broadband and Wifi

WiFi is beginning to become a staple requirement of customers. This brings both opportunities and challenges. Providing decent WiFi for customers gives owners the opportunity to capture customer details for future marketing. A number of products exist that capture email addresses in return for WiFi access.

It is important to ensure that the speed and quality of the broadband is sufficient to meet the demands of users - the roll out of fibre broadband, particularly in more rural areas, and the decrease in price now makes this achievable.

Also watch for broadband usage levels. For example, customers watching videos or accessing Facebook etc. will use more data than normal office working. So, check the small print; not all unlimited broadband packages are truly unlimited. In many cases there is a fair usage clause.

There are also security concerns in terms of sharing one broadband for customers, PDQs and business usage. Some routers allow you to create multiple WiFi connections over a single broadband and may be cheaper than installing multiple connections

Technology

Do you use analogue or wireless PDQs? The former requires a phone line which is more costly. The latter can use the broadband but what happens if that fails. A dual strategy gives resilience and offers better security.

Some chains have deployed VOIP technology for their phones, however the use of PDQs over the same broadband as VOIP can cause interference. VOIP is normally seen as an alternative to premise phone systems (PBXs) – very few pubs/restaurants have these so it is questionable if VOIP is always beneficial.

Cost Management and Information

Working with pub/restaurant owners we’ve found that many have inherited a multitude of suppliers with different services, prices and contract terms. In some cases the price differences can be significant, not to mention the plethora of paperwork. Consolidating the services gives greater negotiating power and common contract terms. Some suppliers provide free of charge management information reports showing costs by venue without the need to log into web portals.

Don’t be caught out. It is important to be aware of the favourite dirty tricks of the telecoms industry. Here are a few:

Check the Contract

Some contracts say that unless stated otherwise they are deemed to be 60 months. Telecom costs tend to reduce over time – so long term deals often cost more overall. Also investigate the cost of cancellation, some will charge the full balance of rentals and expected call volumes. One chain in Hampshire unwittingly signed a long term deal which prohibited them from saving over 40% with a new supplier.

Cheap Headline Tariffs Do Not Always Save Money

Ask if call charges are per second or per minute - that can add 10% to your bill. Check the costs of all calls - often suppliers hide the costs to expensive destinations.

Bundles that offer a flat monthly fee are fine if you have consistently high call volumes, but pubs and restaurants generally have lower than average volumes so buying a service corresponding to actual usage usually saves money. One chain saved 30% by just cancelling their bundle packages and moving to per call charging.

Summary

Keeping a regular check on costs and technology is important to all businesses. In an industry that faces many other challenges, reviewing your telecoms and IT is a simple way to achieve savings and ensure your technology is working for you.