Get the Most Out of Your Employee Cell Phone Plan
By Mindy Prowler, Construction Executive
Most companies provide a cell phone and service for their employees because success requires them to quickly respond to a text, email or phone call—or risk missing out on potential business. Because cell phone bills are difficult to decipher, many companies simply let their sales representative choose the pricing plan. A knowledgeable rep can be an asset, but what if the rep is on commission or rewarded for selling a higher-priced plan? It’s a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.
So how does a company know whether it’s getting good advice or getting taken advantage of? Here are some quick tips to help make sure a company is getting the most out of its cell phone plan for its money.
GET A BILLING OPTIMIZATION REPORT FROM THE CARRIER
This report can show potential savings by comparing current plans to any new pricing plans the carrier may offer. New plans might come with undisclosed additional charges, so be sure to ask if there is a downside or any other charge associated with making a change (i.e. supplemented device fees). This report usually won’t give any option to review older pricing plans, so the new plans may not be the most cost effective obtainable, but the report is still a good starting point.
JOIN AN INDUSTRY GROUP OR OTHER ORGANIZATION
Often the carriers provide additional discounts to industry members. This discount might also be offered to employees and their family. Is the company account eligible for a corporate discount? Grab all the discounts that are available.
TAKE INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL INTO CONSIDERATION
This can be a huge unexpected expense unless the company has added an international roaming plan. There are several international plans to accommodate usage and they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The major carriers now offer free or low-cost daily roaming options that will allow users to tap into their current pricing plan and data when traveling to many countries. They also have special deals for travel to Mexico and Canada.
DUMP THE INSURANCE
Dropping insurance is especially beneficial if there are lots of units on the account eligible for upgrade. Between the monthly insurance fee and the deductible, it pays to do an upgrade instead of an insurance claim. If a particular unit isn’t eligible, then do a buddy upgrade, which allows the company to purchase a discounted phone using a different eligible number on the account.
WHENEVER POSSIBLE, ORDER THE EQUIPMENT ONLINE
This saves shipping costs and possibly the upgrade fee. Gone are the days of the free phone, so getting a quality unit is going to cost. The good news is installment equipment payment plans can be offset by credits, depending on the pricing plans the company is using. Many of the new plans allow for a $20 credit if the line is eligible for upgrade. Unless there’s a need for the most current phones, good units can be had for about $19 per month. With the $20 credit, it’s the carrier and not the company that is actually paying to have the equipment.
REVIEW THE COMPANY’S INVENTORY
Is the company paying for lines no longer in use? A quick calculation can help determine if it’s beneficial to maintain the number and possibly later reissue to a new user or cancel it altogether.
TRACK THE DATA USE ON THE ACCOUNT AND ADJUST THE PLAN ACCORDINGLY
Normal usage of 25 gigabytes on the account doesn’t justify a 200-gigabyte plan. Conversely, if the account experiences a lot of data overage or if an individual has high data use, then it is time to research the cause. Is the user tethering the cell phone to a computer and neglecting to untether? Is there a lot of streaming or video use? The carrier plans are based on gigabyte use, so it’s key to monitor and adjust accordingly.
OPT FOR ONLINE BILLING AND ALERTS
Some carriers offer a credit if a company receives and pays the bill online. Being online is also an opportunity to explore the carrier’s website and maybe even take a tutorial. If the company’s account is getting ready to go over on data, receiving an online alert can help avoid costly overages.
Although there’s no guarantee of how much a company can save on its wireless bills, it’s always the right time to review and manage cell phone plans—and that usually means putting money back into the company’s bottom line, instead of the carrier’s.