Business and Operations
VoIP for your restaurant: What to look for when upgrading your phone system
By Carmen Vogel-McCombie
By Carmen Vogel-McCombie
August 10, 2011 –
Considering VoIP for your restaurant? Voice over
Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the newest in phone system technology, sending
regular voice calls over a computer network instead of a traditional phone
The cost, compared with a traditional multi-line phone
system, may make VoIP seem an appealing option. VoIP phones are relatively easy
to set up, particularly if you are already connected to a single network.
But before you make the switch, make sure you understand both the advantages
and potential risks—and all the associated costs—particularly if your
restaurant relies on delivery and takeout orders:
Initial set-up costs: Make sure you
understand what extra equipment you might need to purchase to make VoIP work
with your existing system.
Caller ID hardware: Does your caller ID
adaptor support analog and digital connections? Currently VoIP needs both to integrate with Caller ID, and then
to your POS system.
Land line phones: Your existing digital
phones may work with the VoIP system, but double-check their compatibility to
Other equipment: Some common business
devices may require an analog phone line to connect—notably fax machines, but
also credit card machines, some security systems, and other devices. Don’t
disconnect your land line until you’re sure that all your equipment will still
Your phone number: If you take orders
by phone, one of your most valuable assets is your phone number. Make certain that it is portable to the new
Troubleshooting and IT assistance: Many
companies assist with initial setup at no charge but you may incur ongoing charges
Long distance: How often do you call
out from the restaurant? What do you expect to save in long distance charges?
If you decide that a VoIP system is right for your business, consider these
Shop around. Explore all of your
options, and ask questions. Consider purchasing from a licensed reseller for
more competitive pricing and better support.
Contact a Consultant. A phone system
consultant will evaluate your needs and make sure your VoIP meets them. Many
telecom system resellers offer this initial consultation at no cost.
Get a support contract. Your VoIP
system will eventually have problems; at the very least, it will require
Know your maintenance costs. Know the
details of your plan including per minute, per use, or per line VoIP charges.
Be proactive. Ask for all the admin
passwords so you can make changes yourself when needed. Choose a system that
you can access yourself for things like changing users; you don't want to have
to foot the bill for an IT person to do that.
Carmen Vogel-McCombie is a marketing and tradeshow
coordinator at SpeedLine Solutions, Inc., and a contributing editor to On Point: The
Restaurant Technology Blog.