Fax services are an excellent way for your business to save bundles of money every month.
However, some online fax services may end up costing your business more money than you think.
Obviously, choosing the right fax service is important. Today, I’m going to show you how to do exactly that.
Why You Need a Fax Service
First, you need to determine if you need an electronic fax service at all. If you already own an expensive fax machine, then you may wonder why you need to spend more on additional faxing services.
There are a number of valuable benefits of switching to a fax service. Those benefits include:
- Sending and receiving faxes from any internet-connected devices, including smartphones and tablets
- Saving money on the costs of physically printing a fax, like ink and paper
- The convenience of accessing faxes and contact information from anywhere
If your company’s employees are constantly on-the-go, then a fax service can transform the way you do business. The right fax service can supply your employees with the information they need wherever they go. Instead of staying in the office all day, employees can work more efficiently and juggle out-of-office tasks while faxing at the same time.
Do your employees mostly stay in the office all day? That doesn’t mean faxing services are useless – far from it. You can still reduce paper and ink costs while providing greater freedom, flexibility, and convenience for employees.
The only reason an online faxing service may not make sense is if your business sends and receives fewer than, say, 10 or 20 faxes each month. In that case, even a $10 per month subscription fee may not be worth the price. However, it’s hard to put a price on convenience – how much is the freedom to send and receive faxes outside of the office worth to your business? You have to take into account more than just the physical costs of ink and paper.
If you decide that a fax service is the right choice for your business, then keep reading.
Factors to Consider With Online Fax
Your budget: How much can you afford to spend on a fax service? How much do you spend each month on your current fax service? If you only send and receive a handful of faxes each month, then you may not need a fax service at all. On the other hand, if you send thousands of faxes each month, then you may need to make room in your budget for an advanced faxing plan. With online fax services, you can expect to spend somewhere between $10 per month and $40 per month. Larger businesses with larger needs, however, may need to work beyond that budget.
Number of faxes sent and received each month: This is one of the best ways to compare online fax providers: how many faxes are you allowed to send and receive each month? Almost all fax providers have different plan levels that offer different numbers of faxes. A ‘Basic’ plan may include 100 faxes for $10 per month, while a ‘Business’ plan may include 1,000 faxes for $30 per month. Typically, this number of faxes refers to the number sent and received each month. Determine your approximate faxing needs and refer to this number when shopping around.
Number of employees and extensions: Not all online faxing plans let you send faxes from multiple emails. Some plans only allow one ‘main’ user while other users can only receive forwarded faxes. Other providers let users send faxes from 5 or 10 different email accounts. Furthermore, you may be able to add extensions or new numbers to your account for an additional fee. How many employees or departments need to send and receive faxes at your business?
Do you already have a fax number?: If you already have a fax number, then that’s fine: you can still subscribe to an online fax service. However, you will need to make sure your chosen provider accepts old numbers. Most providers accept old numbers, although some charge a fee as high as $30 upon activation or $5 per month. If your fax number has already existed for years, then changing that number will be quite a hassle.
Features to Watch For With Online Fax
All faxing service providers let you send and receive faxes over internet-connected devices. That’s the most basic feature a provider can offer. Here are some additional features you can use to compare different providers:
Mobile apps: Most major fax providers have apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android. Not all faxing providers, however, have apps for Blackberry, Windows Phone, and other less popular mobile devices. If your team regularly uses a specific type of mobile device on-the-go, then mobile apps should affect your purchasing decision.
Free trials: Many fax providers offer free trial periods. During this period, you can use the fax service without paying a dime. Some providers let this trial period last for 30 days, while others have 7 day trial periods or none at all. If you’re the type of person who likes to try before you buy, then the presence of a trial period should play an important role in your decision.
Pricing details and fine print: Pricing is the easiest way to compare different fax providers. Obviously, fax providers know this. That’s why many of them hide extra fees and charges in the fine print. Let’s say a fax provider displays a price of $5 per month. That’s cheaper than its competitor which charges $8 per month. However, when you read the fine print, you learn that the cheaper provider only offers that monthly rate on annual plans, or that it charges exorbitant overage fees. Always double check how much you actually pay per month – not how much the service tells you on their landing page.
Online platform and user interface: All computer fax providers have an online platform or software program through which you can send and receive faxes. Some providers have hastily coded this platform and created a messy, unstable interface. Others have spent hours polishing the interface and making sure everything is smooth, easy-to-use, and functional. Guess which one saves more time and money for your business?
Archival, search, and storage system: You may need to check back on older faxes from time to time. In this case, you want your online fax provider to offer a robust archival system. Some providers save every fax you’ve ever sent and received, while others only save faxes over a certain period of time – like the last month or year. Some allow you to search through faxes and view them online, while others require you to download them to your computer in order to view them.
Other Points of Comparison With Online Fax
Can you pick your own fax number? Not all services allow this. It could be the difference between getting a vanity fax number related to your business and a totally random un-branded number.
Microsoft Office integration: Some fax services integrate directly with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, letting users easily send and receive faxes via Microsoft Office software.
Contract details: Do you need to sign up for an annual contract to enjoy competitive monthly pricing? Or are all contracts strictly month-to-month?
Acceptable file formats: Can you fax images, Word documents, .PDFs, and other file formats commonly used at your business?
Contact management: Does the provider let you save and edit contacts? Can you maintain a list of contact phone numbers? Can you search through those numbers and add notes to each contact?
International faxing: Most online fax providers include faxing within the United States and Canada under your monthly package. If you need to send faxes internationally, then check the provider’s international coverage – prices vary widely between providers, and some providers don’t even offer international faxing.
By carefully weighing all of the factors listed above, you can easily pick the online fax provider that suits your needs.