Are Hosted or Virtual VoIP Telephone Systems Right For You?

17 10 2011

Trying to decide what phone system is best for your business can be a very painful task.  It’s very important to work with a trustworthy communications expert and evaluate your options.

Hosted VoIP systems are popping up everywhere.  They are also being referred to as Virtual VoIP systems.  Don’t let the two different words make you think one is better than the other.  They’re the same thing.

The are a number of disadvantages of hosted VoIP telephone systems including:

  • Internet dependency
  • Call Quality Issues
  • Being locked into a single vendor
  • Scalability Issues
  • Ongoing Cost

Internet Dependency

For most business your telephones are the front door to your business.  This is the way the majority of your customers communicate with you.  A major point of failure for a Hosted VoIP System is the internet.  If your internet is down, your router fails, your switch quits working, or the power is out your phones WILL NOT WORK.

Call Quality Issues

As with all VoIP telephone systems call quality is going to be an issue that must be addressed, running your Hosted VoIP telephone system over less than adequate bandwidth can be detrimental when it comes to maintaining calls.

You need to ensure that Quality of Service (QoS) is established and enough bandwidth is assigned to your VoIP calls.  This can be done with most modern firewalls as they have QoS settings that allow you to prioritize bandwidth usage.  If your network is not set up to properly support a hosted system get ready for headaches.

Being Locked In To A Single Vendor

If the hosted VoIP solution you purchased was bought on the internet good luck getting help.  Especially if you’re trying to find local help.  Most service providers will require you to sign up for a minimum term contract, which effectively locks you into their service and even with poor service it can be very difficult to get out of.  Once your out then what?  Chances are your hosted system wont be support by another hosted VoIP provided.

Scalability Issues

The scalability of hosted VoIP phone systems can be very expensive and cumbersome. To effectively expand your  Hosted Phone System you will need to increase the bandwidth to accommodate every few new users.  This can add up fast.  Another issues I have seen Hosted customers run into when expanding the phone system is the old phones are no longer compatible with new phones or software versions could be different.

Ongoing Cost

Just because the hosted solution was cheaper up front doesn’t mean it will always be cheaper.  With most hosted solutions you never own the equipment which means you never stop paying for it until you trade it in for a system you can own and depend on.

Hosted Market

Hosted Phone Systems do have their place in the market or they wouldn’t be around.  If you don’t care about the ongoing expense, have the proper network infrastructure established, a back-up plan for when the internet is down or  if you only have a handful of users at several locations possibly working from home.  This might be for you.

Memories To Last a Lifetime

22 07 2011

One month ago today I married the love of my life.  Other than the birth of our son, Landon, I have never experienced such an emotionally happy moment. 

We went down to Florida with our immediate family.  Just a “small” group of about 30 people.  Our families vacationed with us the week of our wedding.  We rented a couple of houses in a new neighborhood in Seagrove, Florida.  That’s right between Panama and Destin.  It is such a beautiful area.

Prior to our vacation Olivia worked herself to death trying to plan the wedding until one day she contacted Michelle Castle.  She was looking for a photographer and fell in love with Michelle’s work.  Michelle saw our proposal video from the MS walk and felt an instant connection with us.  She wanted to help make our love story a memory to last a lifetime.  Michelle introduced us to Jessica Miller who is a wedding planner and owner of Serene Occasions.  Together Michelle and Jessica talked to an elite group of vendors that all came together to give us the wedding of our dreams.  It’s not often you meet someone with such a kind heart.  In this instance it was an entire group of people.  Not only are they kind-hearted they are caring, generous and inspiring.  They all have a passion for what they do and it shows when you are around them.  I don’t think we could have dreamt of a more perfect wedding. 

Olivia and I would like to say THANK YOU!!!! to everyone involved in making our wedding so perfect and giving us such wonderful memories.  It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about how beautiful Olivia was when Michelle turned her around on the boardwalk for me to see her for the first time in her wedding dress, the smile on her face as she came down the aisle with orange and white flower pedals spread out in the sand, the race we had at the altar to combine our separate jars of sand into one and the kiss we shared when we were pronounced husband and wife.

After our beautiful ceremony we went to the pool house, which had been a work in progress all day and was transformed into gorgeous and elegant reception.  There were lights that illuminated the area.  The decor was like a wedding you would see in a magazine.  The centerpieces were yellow orchids that were submerged in cylinder vases, surrounded by a mix of white and orange roses. The lower pool level was set up with a unique topsy turvy cake with fresh strawberries and chocolate ganache filling (which was DELICOUS) made especially for us by Kim. The food buffet was perfection, almost so perfect we didn’t want to eat any of it… almost.  Chef Pascalli had put together a delicious dinner menu and made everything on site in one of the houses we rented, everything burst with flavor. The DJ was awesome, he even managed to get my 86-year-old grandpa on the dance floor for the first time in 40 years.  We ended the perfect night with an exit filled with giant sparklers held by our closest family and friends. After everyone thought it was over, we decided to really end with a splash (literally)… Bride and Groom, now husband and wife, jumped into the pool with our wedding attire on.

Check out the people below who made this amazing wedding possible.  If your planning a destination wedding in Florida and want the wedding of your dreams, give them a call.  They are an absolutely amazing group of people.

Michelle Castle | Michelle Castle Photography

Jessica Miller {wedding planner} | Serene Occasions

Videographer | Revelations Productions

Chef Rich Pascali | Pascali Foods

Kim | Kim’s Cakes

Jessica Miller {make-up artist} | Make Me Blush

DJ | Whispers Production

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Qualifying Your Technology Advisor

9 05 2011

There’s no need for small business owners to be technology gurus, as long as they can tap into good technology advice from a reliable small business technology advisor.

Face it, you don’t have the time to become an expert in technology and you don’t have the money it takes to hire a full-time information tech for your company.

So how are you supposed to satisfy the technology demands of your business? Simple – hire an IT (information technology) advisor.

Finding the right advisor is even more critical than determining that you need one in the first place. A bad IT advisor will take your cash and leave you with a technological mess that you’ll have to pay someone else to clean up. But a good IT advisor will not only set up your equipment and software, but also provide support and training on the solution they recommended going forward.

To separate the quality IT advisors from the “trunkers”, you’re going to need to ask questions before you sign a service agreement. Here is a short list of questions to help you get started:

What are the advisor’s strengths?

Different advisors specialize in different types of hardware and software solutions. For example, some advisors specialize in the area of networking while others specialize in hardware set-up or web-based applications. At the end of the day, it’s important to choose advisors whose strengths are in line with your needs.

Company strengths?

Make sure the company you are considering is backed by the BBB and they have customer references that you can call on.  Is this just a start-up company with one or two people?  If so, watch out!  A reliable company will have several network engineers and advisors on staff.  Another huge benefit of a reputable company is they can provide a team approach in troubleshooting or designing your network. 

How many small businesses has the consultant worked with?

Small businesses are different from large businesses in many ways, including technology. If the advisor has worked primarily for large businesses, than he/she may be more likely to set you up with more technology than you need, at a higher cost than you can afford. Ideally, you are looking for an IT advisor that has a consistent track record of service for small business clients.

What can you expect from the advisor?

You need to know upfront what you can reasonably expect to receive for your money. Some IT advisors sell you the hardware or software and then leave without ever having properly trained your employees about how to use it. Ask the advisor to be specific about the services he/she will provide and then get it in writing.

Does the advisor serve as an agent for an equipment or software provider?

Some IT advisors are little more than sales reps in advisors clothing. Their job has less to do with helping you than it does with selling their company’s products. Find out whether or not the advisor serves as an agent or representative for any manufacturers or resellers. A true advisor will allow you to purchase whatever technology is right for your business, regardless of the name on the box.  Find out if you have the option of purchasing the equipment direct or if you have to buy directly from the advisor.  It’s not always less expensive to buy direct.  A good advisor should provide their price vs. buying direct.

How much will this advisor charge you?

As with any advisor, you’ll need to find out in advance how much the advisors time is going to cost.  If a technology advisor is with a reputable company you should not be charged for their time.  Projects and support should clearly define hardware software and labor pricing.

Where do you find a good advisor?

Well you’re looking in the right spot already!  First check out my references then you contact me with the tab above.

Plug-in & Save

25 04 2011

Voice & Data Connectivity

A key component of all businesses is their ability to increase efficiency, save cost, and increase customer service.  One way this is done is by evaluating your internet(data) and voice resources. 

What we do:

  1. Gathers the facts –What does your internet and phone service currently cost you and how can it better benefit the way you operate?
  2. Compile the information and then determine what may be a better solution for your needs.  We evaluate multiple carriers, (AT & T, TWTC, Windstream, Paetec, Level 3, and more), and ask for the best price for the solution we identified for you.
  3. Present the facts We will provide an overview of the results and explain which options would be beneficial to your business.
  • This is a free evaluation of your telecommunications services with no obligation.
  • There is no contract with us and we take none of the cost savings that we find.

Contact me today to schedule your free evaluation.

Brandon Congleton – 502.371.3322 –

Thunder Over Louisville

17 04 2011

Watch Thunder Over Louisville Live! click the link below

Why I Walk

13 02 2011

It’s that time of year again, Louisville’s Walk MS is upon us! Last years MS Walk was very exciting. I proposed to Olivia on stage right before the walk kicked off. I was so nervous I almost put the ring on the wrong hand. You can see the video of the proposal on my “Pictures” page if you havent yet seen it. Since then, Olivia and I welcomed our baby boy, Landon into the family. He is an amazing gift from God that we are so thankful for. Also, we are planning our wedding for June 22 in Destin Florida. The past year has been wonderful and I look forward to our future which leads me to the reason why I walk. Olivia was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis three years ago this past January.
I had no clue what MS was or what symptoms came with it. Having multiple sclerosis means that you may not be able to walk when you wake up. Or that you may suddenly have impaired vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. The symptoms of MS are different and devastating for everyone – the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

That’s why I registered for Walk MS 2011 Louisville and that’s why I’m asking you to support my fundraising efforts with a tax-deductible donation. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is dedicated to creating a world free of MS but they can’t do it without our help! MS researchers have made extraordinary progress these last few years searching for a cure and a contribution from you would help support these vital efforts. A donation from you will also help the Kentucky-Southeast Indiana Chapter provide necessary services for the people and their families living with MS. It’s easier and faster than ever to support this cause that’s so important to me and effects me directly every day.

We would like to invite you to join our team or make a contribution to support the research for MS.
You can register or donate here or by clicking the Walk MS tab above.

Just Focus

5 01 2011

Lately I have had many people ask me “what do you attribute to your success in sales?” Over the past four years with Absolute Networking I have had the highest customer satisfaction and sales numbers in the company. When I was posed the question I wasn’t really sure how to respond. I never had a written plan. I got to thinking what do I do that I can share to help the people around me? Well for the first year ever I am developing a sales plan. My goal for this plan is to not only help you and I but for you to share it and help others that you know.
There are four basic parts of my sales plan:
1. Existing customer growth & care
2. Referrals
3. New prospects
4. New suspects
-Before you start, you need to get a handle on some definitions:
• Prospects: Potential new customers that you are currently talking to.
• Suspects: Businesses that you would like to talk to but have not gotten a REAL opportunity to.

Let’s get started!
1. Existing customer growth & care
Existing customers are the best customers we have. In my opinion you should care for your existing customers first. Existing customers are usually loyal and committed to doing business with only you. Your main job here is to learn about your customers. Offer solutions that will improve their way of conducting business or ways to save money. DO NOT EVER present something to your customer that they will not benefit from. The trust you worked so hard to gain could be lost in a split second. Care for your customer like you would for your friends or family. It’s ok to become friends with your customers but DO NOT use that as leverage. At times even your most loyal customers will need to get second opinions. It’s ok. Be there to help them review that other opinion. If it’s a better solution let them know. You should always be more concerned about what’s best for your customers business than you are about yourself. This also gives you the chance to improve and maybe even still win the proposal by improving your solution.

2. Referrals
Referrals tie back in with taking care of your existing customers. They are your number one resource to recommend you to someone. In the past I have been scared to ask my existing customers for referrals. This is a new year its time to start asking. If you are taking good care of your customers they will be happy to refer you if they know someone. Also existing customers are a great resource for your prospects to call and talk to about the service you have provided. You should also find other referral partners. It’s ok to even have referral partners in the same industry as you. Just make sure you can trust that person and draw a clear line. No one business can be distinguished in everything. Know people who do other stuff. If they are reputable and provide quality service recommend them even if they aren’t someone you talk to on a daily basis.

3. New Prospects
Introduce Yourself, Then Shut-Up and Listen
The sales experience is not about you, it is about the prospect! It is a courtship ritual to determine if the prospect values the goods or services enough to invest in them by making a purchase. There is only one way to find out what the customer values, wants or needs and that is to listen intensely. If you are thinking about the next thing that you are going to promote then you can not concentrate on what the prospect is telling you. Think about how you can repeat what the customer is saying in your own words and you will be forced to listen intently to what they tell you. Reiterate what the prospect asked of you so they know you were listening and you both have the same understanding of expectations. Again, DO NOT EVER try to sale something that the prospect will not benefit from. Base you solution on their pain points. You also need to understand you’re not right for every business. Sometimes you just won’t click, expectations are unreasonable, they are looking for the cheapest thing they can get or you don’t have the right solution. Take notice to this. The last thing you need is an unhappy customer. An unhappy customer will take up all of your time and in the end nobody wins. It’s ok to tell a prospect “I think we will respectfully decline presenting a solution. I don’t feel that we have the right solution for you.” It hurts to walk away but one of two things will happen. (1) you will walk away respected and unharmed from a possible bad outcome or (2) This will completely take the customer by surprise and they will be interested to discuss why you can not propose a solution. In most cases this discussion will give you a chance to present a realistic case and expectations with the chance to propose. That is if you have the right solution.

4. New Suspects
I think this is the hardest part of sales. Getting in front of suspects. Until you get in front of someone they are just a suspect. If you’re trying to talk to someone at a business about what you have to offer guess what so are 50 other people. What can you do different? Learn about the company you are trying to get into. Send direct letters to your suspect mentioning their company. Make the letter about them not you. It’s ok to type your letter. If you have chicken scratch for hand writing like me it’s a good thing it’s typed. But personally sign your letter and hand address the envelope. Some general marketing to do is:
• Make no less than 20 cold calls of introduction to new suspects each week.
• Make no less than 10 face-to-face contacts with new suspects each week.
• Create no less than 5 proposals each week.
• Develop ways to constantly have your name in front of your suspects.
• Create a mailer to be sent out at least 1 a month that highlights an area of your business.
• Be persistent but not a pest
Some might say that is not many contacts each month. Well your right! But I bet it more than a lot of you are doing right now. It’s more than I’ve done in the past. Bill Murray was given this word of advice in the movie What About Bob? And it applies to more than just crazy people. Take baby steps! If you’re not comfortable with what you’re doing its easy to give up. Start small, take baby steps and work your way up.
After evaluating my own performance last year I realized how much better I could have been. If only I had a written plan, something to focus on. It’s a new year and not too late to change or reinvent yourself if you need to. My guess is that most of you are already doing most of the stuff I listed you just need to focus. If you have any questions or I can help please do not hesitate to reach out to me. You can find all of my information under the contact info tab.

Happy New Year! Just Focus!