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RadioShack- Building a Powerful Franchise One Transistor At a Time
May 18th, 2015

Behind the Radio

Some of us will remember being able to buy any number of different components to build a transistor radio or basic computers at the local RadioShack. Heck, even the first wearable technology, Lizzy, was constructed with a few odds and ends that came from the nationwide hardware retailer. Though things have not been so rosy lately for the ‘Shack. With the advent of online retail and big box stores decimating their market share over the last 15 years, the venerable retailer has had to make some big changes to stay afloat.

A History of Communications

Founded in 1921 by a pair of ham radio enthusiast brothers, RadioShack has been a model of American franchise business. Even in spite of deciding to close nearly 20% of their locations in 2014, RadioShack persists to be a desirable franchise business opportunity and still cracked into the top 150 companies in Entrepreneur’s 2015 Franchise 500 list of best franchise investments. Though there are many financial reasons that contributed to this favorable listing, one of the most valuable propositions of owning a RadioShack franchise has been far less tangible.

Brand Stability Equals Profitability

Even in the current state of affairs where RadioShack has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, there persists a very profitable endeavor to acquire the majority of their locations. If the company is in decline, sells dated technology, and is currently contracting, though, why then would there exist a bidding war for their last storefronts? The same things that investors want from them now is what entrepreneurs and IT professionals have known they would be able to get from them for almost a century- a consistent, authentic, enthusiast’s experience for communications technology. Creating a solid brand experience is one thing, curating and preserving it through global expansion how RadioShack has done for decades is entirely another. Maintaining that purity of a brand as it is entrusted to a multitude of franchisees is something that throttles many business owners as they look to expand their own companies. It doesn’t have to be that scary.

Keep Your Business Yours, Even When It’s Someone Else’s

No, that’s not a riddle or Zen kōan, it’s how business owners maintain consistent brand standards with their franchise partners everyday with VirtualPBX Franchise Phone Systems. With locations growing and cropping up all over the country, there exist two key challenges to keeping a brand’s core experience intact, Customer Connection and Brand Cohesion.

You’ve built a successful regional or national brand, how do you continue to connect customers over an increasingly large area with the right locations during rapid expansion? The best way to do that is with singular, corporate contact points in the form of your existing website and a national toll-free number. Just having a toll-free number can be a drain on your staffing requirements if it requires a call-center and operator functions, though. VirtualPBX toll-free numbers can be programmed to automatically direct your callers to the most appropriately located by identifying the caller’s area code and routing it to the nearest franchisee.

manage, change, edit, and monitor the content and function of the toll-free number from anywhere in the world that you have an internet connection.

The Unfair Advantage

RadioShack didn’t have access to these types of unified communications when it was founded. They, like you, have relied on the tried and true method of identifying a need and providing a reliable and valuable solution to fill that gap in their communities. Today, you can utilize the latest iterations of technologies that were designed with RadioShack components to ensure that your brand’s growth can be at least as potent, consistent, and effective as even the largest franchises in the world.

To learn more about how VitualPBX’s unified communications strategies can best be employed for your business, you can read more about it on our blog or get in touch with one of the VirtualPBX Franchise Experts today.

National Bike To Work Day
May 14th, 2015

Bike To Work

May is National Bike Month and today with the second full week being Bike to Work Week and today, Thursday May the 14th, is National Bike to Work Day. That basically is like the epicenter of the your-co-worker-might-be-a-bit-stinkier-than-usual month that marks (for most) the gateway into the summer months. All of the added hours of commute time that the budget-conscious, fitness-oriented and environmentally-minded cyclists in the office will have to put in this month, plus the days away from the office that typically occur during the coming summer months, make finding ways to stay connected when on the road even more important.

Keep In Touch

Though cell phones, laptops, and devices galore have become ubiquitous in today’s society, not everyone wants to leverage their digital flexibility at the expense of their personal freedom. Giving out personal information like mobile and home phone numbers makes delineating clear lines between the beginning and ending of work hours difficult. Even for sales executives who are on-call more often than not, maintaining an element of anonymity for the times they do not want to be disturbed by work is important for a healthy work/life balance. Furthermore, for either budgetary or logistical reasons, carrying separate mobile devices for work and for personal use is not a realistic solution for many people or businesses.

Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too

Forget for a moment how ridiculous this expression is (seriously, I always eat all the cake I have, every time) and focus on how great it is when things work out with a double-whammy like it implies. Now you can use any device to conduct business. Whether it’s your work, personal, family, or borrowed device, as long as it has an internet connection, the VirtualPBX Softphone App mirrors your office presence from anywhere, anytime.

The VirtualPBX Softphone is an application that uses internet, wifi, or a network data connections to create a portal into your company’s hosted PBX system so that you can access it remotely. By using the company’s existing phone network, you can mask all of your communications with the work telephone number that you use when you’re at your desk in the office. No more missed calls, no need to share private information.

Get Started Now

Unlike how some of your bike-riding co-workers may have realized that they probably could have benefitted from a few rides beforehand to ramp up to their commute today, you don’t have to prepare anything to get started with the VirtualPBX Softphone App. In fact, the sooner you get the desktop or mobile app download, the sooner you can start working remotely as if you were in the office.

If you have any questions about the Softphone App or hosted telephone service for your business, you can always contact our award-winning VoIP for Business Experts. They have probably cleaned-up from their rides in by now, too.

Blocking and Tackling: It’s all about Fundamentals
May 12th, 2015

FoundationFor sports fans, the Bay Area is a great place to live. We have two Major League Baseball teams, two National Football league teams, a National Basketball Association team (go Warriors!), a National Hockey League team, a Major League Soccer squad, and a host of other pro and semi pro teams ranging from Roller Derby to Cycling and everything between. Maybe it’s the great weather or big industries that are synonymous with Northern California, or maybe it’s just that we’re really fortunate, but the point is that we have an abundance of opportunities to improve business with lessons from professional sports.

Recently the NFL held its annual draft of college players into the pro ranks and this inspired many conversations around the office concerning each prospect’s relevant skills and upside potential. In spite of an impressive 40-yard-dash or bench press reps completed, however, the key thing that it always came back to was how fundamentally strong the athlete was. In sports, just like in business, how strong a foundational skillset and functional intelligence an athlete or company has will dictate much of how scalable and ultimately how successful they will be.

Operations – The Base of the Pyramid

We’ve discussed in the past how important basic operations and balance sheets are for avoiding a potential tech collapse, but basic skills go beyond accounting into other compliance and regulatory areas, too. For many large industries, like healthcare, legal, and any service capacity, proper record keeping isn’t just good business, it’s often times a matter of regulatory necessity.

They say a big part of success is just showing up, that’s true in a lot of ways and the concept extends to other areas of being present, too. Dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s is not the sizzle to any workplace steak, but it often makes the difference between success and failure. Think about how important procedure is in a court of law where improperly handled evidence or questioning can result in mistrials or dismissals. From a reporting perspective, many pitfalls and regulatory sanctions can be avoided by simply keeping organized records.

Avoid Human Error, Automate Compliance

Recording conversations, contacts, and events has become easier with email archiving, but for many businesses that is merely one portion of their communication. With so many critical conversations still occurring over the phone, establishing an equally reliable and automated call-recording procedure is the best way to mirror an electronic message capturing protocol.

VirtualPBX has a battery of call recording features that achieve the highest standard of compliance for business to keep running smoothly. From the convenience of the Extension Manager, call recording preferences can be set and changed from anywhere there is an internet connection and in real time. Features include-

  • Set automated call recording by extension or by entire queue
  • Toggle recording in call with a simple key-pad entry
  • Set recording storage and delivery preferences to email, cloud storage, or send a recording directly to your DropBox account

The basics of record-keeping and operations aren’t solely responsible for a company’s success, but improperly addressing these things can effectively damage the chances of that success. To discuss how your company can keep its fundamentals strong with automated call recording and storage, contact one of the compliance experts at VirtualPBX today.

VirtualPBX Vendor Spotlight – Yealink
May 5th, 2015

Yealink-T21P

We are fortunate to have some terrific vendors to partner with, especially when considering the intricacies of VoIP system compatibility with various VoIP phones. Both internally and externally, we are proud of the caliber of professionals that we get to rely on and learn from on a daily basis. Today, we’d like to shine the spotlight on one equipment vendor in particular, Yealink.

Professional Grade

In the relatively young space of VoIP technology, Yealink is a veteran at designing and manufacturing technologically advanced desk and conference phones and equipment for hosted PBX phone systems. Founded in 2001, Yealink is focused mostly on building the tools for businesses to have truly unified communications. This holistic approach to building products deigned for complete, comprehensive communications strategies was one of the pivotal reasons that we chose to bring Yealink on board as a preferred provider of telephone equipment.

Power at Your Fingertips

With all of the enterprise-grade unified communications endeavors that Yaelink undertakes on a regular basis, it was no surprise they had the most impressively feature-rich phones available at entry-level price points. The Yealink SIP-T21P was a no-brainer for us, even after consider the dozens of other options that are available in that price range, as the go-to workhorse for any size business that needs a reliable VoIP phone mainstay.

The SIP-T21P provides a battery of functions with unique features typically reserved for phones at much higher price points, including-

  • High Definition sound clarity
  • Crystal clear LCD display screen
  • Two Ethernet Ports each supporting Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Total VoIP and soft-switch capability

Limited Opportunity

We’re so glad to have Yealink as part of our network now that we’d like nothing more than for you to find out first hand what makes their equipment so competitive. To make buying VoIP phones for business even easier than normal, we’re offering a very limited opportunity to buy the Yealink SIP-T21P at a rare discount. These discounts are only available through the end of May, 2015, or as long as supplies permit, so don’t hesitate to discover the Yealink advantage for less.

For any questions about any of the premium VoIP equipment and service that we provide, please contact our award-winning Customer Support Team who is standing by to help you right now.

Attend a Conference From Anywhere
April 27th, 2015

Hello My Name Is

Staying on the cutting edge of your industry can only be done with a combination of real life application, trial and error, and continuing education. The continuing education portion is especially important because, while plenty of solid refinement and experience can be achieved in the laboratory of day-to-day business, without learning from other experts we’d potentially miss out on critical new trends and tactics.

“Hello, My Name Is ________________”

One of the more popular ways to gain your continuing education credit is through the burgeoning conference market. And boy or boy is it ever burgeoning. A city known for a laundry list of not fit for print indulgences, Las Vegas, NV, is also the site of some of the most massive conference and convention audiences in the world. According to the City of Las Vegas, over 22,000 conventions that drew over 5 million attendees were held in the city’s massive, and numerous, conference halls last year. Needless to say, sharing information to a wide audience in a directed fashion is so valuable, that companies invest literally billions of dollars each year to get involved on both sides of the presenter and attendee spectrum.

Of course, not all companies can afford to send their employees all over the globe chasing down the next big idea and trend, let alone are they able to include all affected employees in the journey when they can. Furthermore, making certain that the information gained by those who do attend is shared quickly and efficiently is another challenge that some companies face.

Hold Your Own Summit

Okay, it may be difficult to reproduce the glam, glitz, and swag that comes form a proper Las Vegas conference, but you can execute the same type of quality group education from the convenience of your home office. Teleconferencing is the best way to engage larger groups of people in a simple, effective way. Plus, much like how Sin City is the site to where people travel from all over the globe, teleconferencing also brings together dispersed groups better than anything else can, without all of the airfare.

Teleconferencing can bring people together from over the phone lines, but when you have multiple people in one place, having a proper conference phone is important to getting everyone in the room involved. There are many options out there for a quality product, too many, in fact, to realistically consider all of them as contenders. VirtualPBX has narrowed down the field for you with the best values for high-performance phones and even have a very limited special opportunity to save on select models.

Injecting new ideas into your organization is critical for staying competitive and teleconferencing is one of the most cost-effective and reliable ways to do that. To learn more about how to bring teleconferencing to your team contact the conferencing experts at VirtualPBX today, and you won’t even have any more “creative” expense account charges from Vegas ever again.

Secure, Functional, and Friendly – Cloud-Based PBX Out Preforms On-Premesis PBX
April 17th, 2015

Strong Foundation

The folks at Software Advice, the free online reviews tool for software buyers, have released the second part of their SIP Trunking Provider and Implementation User Research Report, and we’re pleased to see the results. Software Advice takes complex IT and software issues and distills them for non-technical users to make simplified software decisions. In this two-part research project, they studied the usage, effectiveness, and satisfaction of hundreds of network telephony experts and found conclusive evidence that SIP trunking was a supreme advantage for SMB’s looking for cost-effective ways to maintain a secure, high-quality business phone service. In the second part of their research on the topic, Software Advice Analyst, Daniel Harris unearths more findings in support of a hosted PBX phone service for business.

Unrivaled Functionality

Cloud-Based PBX Features

One very compelling finding of the report is that users of cloud-based PBX systems were nearly 29% more likely to have all of their desired features supported by their phone service than were their on-premesis PBX colleagues. This conclusion is emblematic of one of the most convincing reasons to switch to a hosted telephone service. Features included or added onto an on-site PBX system – from introductory to the most robust – can be prohibitively expensive. However, those same features and more can be included with most any level of cloud-based PBX service.

By being hosted in the cloud, virtual phone systems aren’t hindered by the same limitations of their physical, on-site counterparts. This means that for any added feature or modification to an existing one, neither specially trained technicians nor unique and expensive equipment is required. By simply reconfiguring the cloud-based system from an online management portal, a sophisticated VoIP provider allows users to be masters of their own phone options, without any special training.

Friendlier User-Friendliness

Considering the high technical fluency of the audience in the Software Advice report, configuration challenges shouldn’t be something that were often encountered in implementing new PBX systems of any variety. However, even though the lack of special training wasn’t a concern with this sample group, there persisted to be challenges for configuring the on-premises PBX with SIP trunking.

Cloud-Based PBX ConfigurationThe compatibility of physical devices is one reason the expert IT world struggles with on-site PBX systems. PBX hardware is not unlike mobile phones that require a specific type of charging cable or TVs or monitors that require certain AV connections. These types of incompatibilities are much more challenging to overcome than simply finding a converter, though.

“When it comes to configuration, our respondents have more difficulty configuring on-premise systems than cloud systems, most likely because of the proprietary hardware involved in this setup,” said Daniel Harris of Software Advice. Where physical configuration can eventually be overcome with costly work-arounds, there are still issues with making the on-premise hardware recognize SIP trunking software. Unlike the malleability of codes, hardware can’t be as easily updated to accommodate new third-party applications.

“With on-premise systems, however, the SIP trunking provider has to ensure that its service can support proprietary PBX software and hardware from a third-party vendor,” Harris added.

Secure From Every Angle

More often than not, we are assailed with new reasons to be concerned for our data security. While not typically the first place we expect intruders to try and illegally access information, securing business phone lines is especially important. This is another reason why IT pros were keen to report more robust security on their cloud-based PBX over an on-premise option. One of the more popular ways to secure SIP trunking transmissions is Transport Layer Security (TLS), a method often used to secure payment information online. Idealized for securing the transfer of data packets that VoIP conversations are converted into, TLS encrypts the SIP requests between clients and servers, or in this case, businesses using cloud PBX systems and their SIP trunking providers. The heartiness of this method is ideal not only for the protection of financial information online, but for the prevention of DoS (Denial of Service) attacks like have been perpetrated against banks and the US government.

The Verdict

Past research has already shown that SIP trunking offers meaningful cost savings for small and medium businesses, but this new study suggests those savings go even further. By not tying up the limited bandwidth of a company’s tech team with cumbersome, troublesome, and unsecured telephone connections, an SMB can free itself up to focus on the jobs they want to do to grow. Also, added savings come from the prevention of crippling security failures that might be suffered absent the staunch defenses offered by a strong security configuration to any cloud-based PBX.

For more information on VoIP for business and for any questions you may have on how to configure a cloud-based telephone network that will bring these savings to your company, contact our award-winning business experts today.

On Demand for Customers, On the Clock for Providers
April 3rd, 2015

Delivery Guy

Consumers expect content and services unique to their needs delivered to them on their schedules more today than ever before. It used to be that a pizza delivery was about as close to on demand, customized service that most people could expect. Now, though, mobile technology and ever-increasingly sophisticated information management are combining to create an unprecedented land rush for developers all trying to be first to market with more on-demand applications.

From Palm to Project

Ride sharing applications like Uber and Lyft are becoming more of the norm everyday, but now with services like Handy and TaskRabbit, consumers can get everything from help packing for a move to a wrench for their leaky faucets 24 hours a day. For people who don’t want to limit their at-home dining options to only restaurants that have delivery in their area, there is even Eat24 which has over 20,000 take-out options across the country and on-demand delivery.

As long as there is an opportunity to make an experience more user-centric, consumers will grow continuously disenchanted with services that don’t meet their exact specifications. Though this trend has been the purview of areas like streaming content and on-demand housework, it is likely to affect how utilities and other professional services begin operating soon, too.

You-tilities

Exemplary of the made-to-order economy are hosted telephone service companies. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is likely the best, non-consumable vertical to employ on-demand offerings to customers. The flexibility inherent in any hosted phone system far surpasses that of any physical PBX from traditional phone carriers, but innovative companies are taking that one step further.

With near limitless options in how systems are configured, products like SelectRoute and GeoRoute from VirtualPBX are designed exactly to cater to businesses that don’t want to simply order off of a menu of features, but want to design something to fit their company’s appetite as they see fit. With so many different ways to customize VoIP systems, specifically with routing options dispersed and field-based businesses with dispersed and employees, VirtualPBX is tapping into the pulse of consumers with their custom options. To learn how your business can get exactly what it needs, exactly the way you want it, you can get in touch with the award-winning service professionals at VirtualPBX, today.

Champagne Taste, Beer Budget
March 23rd, 2015

Champagne Cork

My Dad used to talk about having champagne tastes and a beer budget in the sense that he always knew he wanted something nice but would always have to settle for whatever was a realistic option in his price range. We’ve all been there and, frankly, we’re probably in this situation more often than not. The double-edged sword of our modern society’s preponderance of options is that, while we are typically presented with options for anything from cellular service to airfare that are reasonably affordable, we are also assaulted with images and advertisements of options that are both much more desirable and astronomically expensive. Why can’t we just have both?

Unicorns

No, I’m not talking about the billion dollar Silicon Valley startups. But just as rare and incredible are the findings of intrepid bargain hunters and savvy business people alike when they find a real value in the marketplace. VirtualPBX Anywhere Plan should satisfy that definition, but the fact is that our award-winning business phone solution can no longer fly below the RADAR. All of the fanfare and recent recognition aside, the incredibly flexible and affordable VoIP phone service for businesses with distributed or mobile workforces has got a coach airfare with Gulfstream accommodations.

TrueACD Queues

TrueACD Queues are only available from VirtualPBX and are one of the most highly sought-after features of our most option-rich, powerful enterprise phone solutions for corporations, call centers, and even national political campaigns. What you may not realize, however, is that they are also part of the standard suite of features on every single Anywhere Plan package. TrueACD Queues outperform basic hunt groups that are common in traditional, physical phone systems in many ways, but none more importantly than in how VirtualPBX makes them available.

We monitor and maintain all of the servers and software that power our virtual phone systems we can improve and service it without you ever experiencing a loss of service. Anywhere Plan customers benefit from this because whenever they need to make a change to their phone system, reroute a call, program a queue, or make any one of literally hundreds of changes to their phone system that they want, all it takes is a few clicks of a mouse on their free, online web portal, and we handle the rest.

Infinitely flexible, premium service at pennies to the dollar of what a traditional phone system would cost you may not exactly be Dom Pérignon, but nothing tastes as good as saving tons of money and getting more than you thought possible. Go ahead, take a sip.

Avoiding the Next Tech Bubble
March 20th, 2015

Stock ChartsYeah, we live in Silicon Valley, home of the 20-somethings with million dollar homes and genius code junkies who are more likely to afford a new Porsche than they are to have graduated from college. It can get a little weird, a little intimidating, and a lot more volatile. Especially because memories of the dotcom bubble bursting in 2000 are often short, even nonexistent for many Ivy League or Stanford MBA wunderkinds who were in elementary school at the time. But these young, brilliant minds are where thousands of angel investors are betting millions of dollars on in the hopes of getting equity in the next Google. These groups are also, according to billionaire investors Mark Cuban and Bill Gurley, exactly who will be responsible for the next, and in their mind inevitable, big tech crash.


A Penny Spent Is A Penny Burned

“Burn rates, the amount of cash companies are losing every month to operate, are higher than they have ever been,” according to Gurley who says that spending by VC-backed startups is basically out of control. The type of financial outlay that Gurley suggests these early startups of committing is unsustainable in that they are spending in excess of their revenues in attempts to drive growth. This strategy exposes the company to burning out before it has established a solid, foundational business model simply by establishing risky business habits that are, according to Gurley, shortsighted.

But to all rules, of course, there are exceptions. The business software maker, Slack, is breaking even the wildest of molds in every single way. Not only has the company, originally founded as a failed gaming application, reached a billion dollar valuation in an unprecedented eight months, it is doing so while producing admirable revenue with strict adherence to sound financial operations. Purported to only be burning $100,000 a month, the company is rising at a meteoric rate of 7% growth, each week. Yes, it’s true that this type of growth is unsustainable, but having had this growth for most of a year combined with fiscal discipline and a $1 billion bankroll is a reliable recipe for long-term stability.


FOMO Struggles are Real

FOMO, or fear of missing out, as the kids are calling it, is another contributor to what the mega-investors are saying will lead to a possible bubble burst. Mark Cuban made his fortune with getting out near the top of the 2000 dotcom bust with Broadcast.com and has remained a cunning investor ever since, even launching his reality show, Shark Tank, which allows him and other angel investors to capitalize on trends and innovation in any market. Cuban is claiming that, unlike the public companies that failed in 2000 where investors could still sell (though often at a massive or total loss) their stake in failed companies, the current private equity that fuels Silicon Valley is a risk greater than that of merely sitting on the sideline.

With investors lining up to throw money at the newest startups to try and get into the ground floor, there has been an increase in the number of actual accredited investors to over 225,000 such capitalists. Because most people can’t achieve actual VC status, though, there are new opportunities to invest in the burgeoning tech scene in today’s Silicon Valley and beyond. Operations like Angel List are new investment aggregators where for $25,000, anyone can get in the game. The problem, Cuban contends, is that there is no liquidity nor escape hatch for these amateur investors to kick the plug with should their investment go south. With private equity, there’s no public market for their stake in a company so, should their darling startup falter. This unprecedented marriage of middle-American wealth with volatile venture capital is exactly why Cuban believes the effects of a tech correction could be massive.


Hedge Early, Hedge Often

For companies of any size or description, simple steps can be taken to ensure long-term financial stability in the face of market volatility. In this case, the best offense is definitely a good defense. Companies like Slack that are disciplined in their expenses have the best chance of combatting any threats to their business, of course the billion dollars doesn’t hurt, either. For companies that don’t have those coffers to rely on, though, simple steps, like vetting utility providers, can prove invaluable. Flexible payment plans, modifiable options and features, and pooled resources are all characteristics of a solid service partner. Not coincidentally, those are just some of the benefits of VirtualPBX’s award-winning Anywhere Plans.

A commitment to reliability and service is what has seen VirtualPBX through recessions, depressions, and corrections. The unprecedented value of services like the Anywhere Plan is what has helped our customers do the same.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said that, “It’s difficult to call a top, but it’s pretty obvious we’re far from the bottom.” This is couldn’t possibly be more true. However, though we don’t know if we’re actually staring down the next tech bubble or not, we remain committed to staying true to our core values and to providing industry-leading innovation at prices that are right for every budget. No matter what the future holds, you can count on that.

Infographic- Anywhere Plans At A Glance
March 19th, 2015

VirtualPBX Anywhere Plans are the small business person’s best ally in the the struggle to keep an edge on their competition. Whether it’s with allowing your nimble team to maintain a professional office appearance without sacrificing any of their agility or by keeping a healthy balance sheet with low, flexible pricing plans for every budget, Anywhere Plans deliver for all types of small businesses.
Anywhere Plans At A Glance