How to Pick a Phone System and Provider for Your Restaurant

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: March 20, 2017

Every restaurant needs a phone system, and your mobile line alone won't cut it. Read about your options here.

Although you live in an era of texting and social media, your restaurant still needs a business phone system. To choose the right one, though, you must determine what your needs are, how much you're willing to pay and whether you want to take a risk on a new technology.

Find a Reliable Provider

The two most important boxes you want to check off on your list of needs for finding a phone service provider are "reliable" and "offers excellent call quality." If you can't hear your customer over the phone or they can't hear you, or the system suffers from chronic dropped calls, you could lose customers.

Do some homework. Look online at what service providers offer in terms of service level agreements and ask other restaurant owners which service they trust. You're likely to find several phone service providers that can meet your needs. At that point, you just need to find the most affordable option.

Single Line Versus Multiple Lines

You need to decide how many phone lines your restaurant needs. It's hard to predict the volume of calls your restaurant will receive, but chances are you're going to need at least a couple of lines. If you decide you need fewer than five phone lines, you can choose a traditional route and install regular phone lines with a business plan from a local provider. If you think you need multiple lines, then you may need to consider key service unit phones that are routed through a centralized unit.

The Truth About VOIP

Some small-business owners are nervous about the Voice Over IP (VOIP) technology that eliminates the need for traditional landlines. VOIP uses your internet connection for phone calls, which means the services you pay for are less costly than traditional methods. However, many believe there's a risk of spotty service and dropped calls. The reliability mostly depends on your internet provider, so be sure to choose a plan that offers an abundance of bandwidth and speed. You also need to purchase IP phones, but the upfront costs for this system are low.

Are the Extras Necessary?

Once you've chosen the provider and plan, you can opt for extras that can be useful. Voice messaging is usually included and a necessity so you can receive messages during off hours. Call forwarding is a smart choice, too, because you can run errands during the day and still answer calls to your business by routing calls that come to your business straight to your mobile phone.

Custom messages to callers are a great way to get important information to your callers without them having to ask someone at the restaurant. If you set up a call menu, you can give your guests the specials of the day, directions to your business, hours of operation or route them to another line to make a reservation. This saves your staff and your customers time.

Once you decide what your business' needs are for a phone system and you've shopped for the best deal, choose a provider that offers scalability. You should choose a phone service provider that grows with you and offers plans that fit small-, medium- and enterprise-level businesses.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

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