Cell phones a tough sell for some businesses
MARIETTA – While individuals have long been eschewing traditional landlines in favor of their more mobile counterparts, businesses have been slower to cast off traditional phone service and make the switch to mobile.
Many businesses with traditional lines note that the time-tested service offers a reliability not found with mobile phones. But as technologies improve and broaden, certain mobile businesses are finding that the switch to cell phones suits them.
That is the case with Marietta business owner Steve Hutchinson. Since forming LS Contracting & Painting LLC in 2002, Hutchinson has always relied on his cell phone to keep him connected with customers while on the go.
“The pros, as far as a cell phone is concerned, is the mobility of it. With today’s technology, you can virtually get any information you need,” he said.
Hutchinson subscribes to a wireless fax service that enables him to send and receive important documents in his home office without the use of a landline. Therefore, he’s done away with the landline there entirely and saved money in the process.
In fact, the only thing saving the landline of Newport business owner Brady Binegar is its necessity for faxing.
Binegar, who owns Brady’s Pest Control, said his cell phone company is working on a wireless fax service, and once it is live he will likely subscribe.
“The only reason we keep the landline is for the business to send and receive faxes. Other than that, landline are pretty much obsolete,” he said.
Binegar also uses a service that forwards all calls from his home to his cell phone, meaning he has the mobility of a cell phone. It’s ideal for a job that keeps him on the move, he said.
“I needed the cell phone cause…I had to be able to take care of all the calls,” he added.
But relying only or mostly on cell phones is not an ideal plan for many traditional business models.
With no dedicated receptionist for their three phone lines, it is up to whichever staff member is available to answer the phones at Irvine Camper, said Tim Irvine, co-owner.
“Having a landline, we can route the calls to someone else. I think that would be a struggle with cell phones,” he said.
The mechanics of a connected landline system works well for businesses with multiple lines, and Irvine does not see the business giving up traditional phone service any time in the foreseeable future.
Beverly resident Arlene Pennock, who owns and operates Bob Pennock Properties, also maintains a landline for her renters to call.
“That’s the easiest number for them to get to because it’s in the telephone book,” she pointed out.
Telephone books do not include cell phone numbers, she noted.
However, Pennock noted that it was much more likely for her renters to use only cell phones for personal use.
“I do know most of my renters have cell phones. They don’t have landline. They want their cell phone and they don’t want to pay for both,” she said.
A traditional phone line also offers customers a certain degree of reliability not found in cell phones, said Peggy Somerville, vice president of Somerville Manufacturing Inc. in Marietta.
While the company employees often use cell phones to talk to one another on the go, the land line is the tried and tested method of communicating with customers, she said.
“There are a lot of areas where some carriers do not have great service. The connections are sketchy and result in some dropped calls. As a professional, you want to be able to have that connection with your customers,” said Somerville.
As he currently works to start his side business washing windows, Marietta resident and youth pastor Noah Downing has delved into some new technology to turn his Oklahoma cell phone into a line that local customers will be comfortable calling.
“When we moved (five years ago), the cost of having that number changed and then having to notify everybody made us decide to keep our Oklahoma numbers,” said Downing of himself and his wife.
But Downing, who had previously run a successful window washing business in Oklahoma, wanted a local number that would let area residents know the business was not some fly by night set up.
He found his answer in Google Voice, a free service which gives Downing a local number and forwards its calls to his cell phone.
“It works for me, especially as a side business. I don’t want to burden my wife with a landline she’s always having to answer. I’m able to answer calls any time,” he said.
One of the only negative aspects of the setup is that Downing’s outgoing calls still show up with his Oklahoma area code. However, as Downing is usually returning calls, this is not problematic, he said.
“I just tell people if you get a call from a number with this area code, it’s me,” he said.