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It’s good to talk

Keeping in touch with clients and colleagues is vital.

When you first start out in private practice, you can usually rely on your home phone and personal mobile. You can claim the cost of business calls against tax.

However, there will come a time when you need to think about getting a separate business line or a more effective mobile phone.

Mobile phones

You can do many things on a mobile phone these days. Watch a film, listen to music, play games. But mobiles are not all about entertainment. The best phones for business help you stay connected and become more efficient.

What makes a good business mobile?

  • a long battery life - if you’re out and about all day, or in a long meeting, the last thing you want is for your mobile to shut down due to a flat battery
  • a proper keyboard - many phones are touch screen only. This is fine for personal use, but not so good for typing emails or taking notes
  • robustness - business mobiles need to be hard-wearing
  • push email - your phone will let you know as soon as an email arrives, so you don’t have to waste time logging on and checking messages
  • synchronised calendars - you should be able to synchronise your phone with your computer at home: however, make sure you make a back up first as not all synchronisation works smoothly

How to get the right contract

Have a think about what you’ll need from your mobile phone. Will you be making a lot of calls, sending a lot of emails or text messages? Will you be using a lot of data, for example to access the internet or login to Twitter or Facebook?

Make sure you assess the available contracts before you make a commitment.

Business phone systems

Running your private practice from home? Here’s why a business line makes sense:

  • you’ll find it easier to allocate the cost of business calls against expenses with a separate business line
  • a business line keeps things professional - you can switch on the answerphone at unsociable hours and won’t run the risk of family members answering business calls
  • many phone companies will offer you a discount if you have both a home and a business landline, so make sure you shop around to get the best deal

Whether you work from home or you’re choosing a system for separate premises, here are some other things to bear in mind:

  • make sure you get an adequate answerphone system, that can be turned on and off as you choose (for example when you’re seeing a client)
  • create an answerphone message that is clear and professional
  • another useful feature your system has call forwarding, whereby calls can be instantly forwarded to another line or your mobile

VoIP - what’s it all about?

As an alternative to installing a standard business phone system, many small businesses are choosing VoIP - a flexible phone system that can be cheaper than standard systems.

VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. It’s the technology used to transmit telephone calls over data networks (the system simply connects to your broadband router). In the past, telephone calls using data systems could be unreliable and poor quality, but the technology is now much more more advanced, providing crystal-clear calls and excellent reliability.

Here’s a few reasons why VoIP could be the right choice for your private practice...

  • it’s great if you’re always on the move - calls can easily be transferred to your mobile or any other number
  • you can choose to integrate the system with your client database, to give you instant information about the person calling
  • VoIP offers a variety of tools, such as conference calls, a do not disturb setting, speed dial and a customer greeting message

Whether you work from home or have separate premises, VoIP is well worth looking into before you make a decision about the phone system for your private practice.

At our own busy practice we use Gradwell to supply our VoIP telephone system – you’ll find lots of helpful information on their website.