For very small businesses, the key to the perfect phone system is simplicity. There is no IT team to manage a complex system, so it is critical to find a business phone solution that combines ease of use with necessary features. Flexibility is also a crucial element in a business phone system. If your business moves to a new location, you want a phone system that is easy to move with you. You also want flexibility in the types of phones that work with the system. IP phones can be expensive, so ideally the system will allow you to use any type of phone, including analog desk phones and mobile devices.
When it comes to features, very small businesses likely don't have the same requirements as larger organizations. They need a phone system with robust basic features, but they also don't want a system that charges them for tools they will never use. Among some of the more valuable features very small businesses want in a phone system include auto-attendants, mobile apps, voicemail, ring groups and conference calling. You can read more about why we believe Ooma Office is the best business phone system for very small businesses below.
Why Ooma Office
Oome Office is our choice as the best business phone system for very small businesses because it was built specifically with smaller organizations in mind. Ooma Office is easy to install, doesn't require an IT team to maintain and works with both analog and IP phones. While the system doesn't have all the features some of its larger competitors do, it offers some of the most valuable ones, like auto-attendants, voicemail and call forwarding. The system is extremely affordable and offers round-the-clock support.
View all our recommendations for business phone systems on our best picks page.
Competitive Pricing and Terms
Unlike cloud-hosted systems that only have monthly fees, Ooma Office has both one-time equipment fees and recurring monthly service fees. Here's how the costs for Ooma Office break down:
These are one-time costs when you initially sign up for the service. The basic package of equipment starts at $199. It includes the base station, which is the system main component, and two Linx devices. The Linx devices are used to connect analog phones to the system. The Linx devices are only needed with analog phones. IP phones can be plugged directly into an ethernet port and don't need any special connection. Should you need additional Linx devices, they are $50 each. Since each base station supports five analog phones, you may need additional base stations. Each added base station is $100.
The monthly service fee for Ooma Office is $19.95 per user, per month. Included in this cost are all the features Ooma offers, as well as unlimited calling and a dedicated phone number for each user. While the base price is $19.95, Ooma often runs specials that can lower those costs. It is important to note, however, that the rates do not include federal universal service charges, state and local taxes, fees and surcharges and regulatory and compliance fees. When signing up for your service, it is important to ask how much those extra fees will be so you have a solid idea of what your monthly costs will be. You do not want to be surprised when your first bill arrives.
One other cost to consider is for desk phones. Unlike other business phone solutions that require IP phones, Ooma Office allows you to also use analog phones. However, using an IP phones does afford you some additional features. Ooma offers several different Yealink and Cisco phones, ranging between $70 and $400.
There are no contracts with Ooma Office. All payments are made on a month-to-month basis. The company also offers a 30-day risk-free trial.
Ooma Office Features
While it doesn't have the huge selection of features that some other phone systems offer, Ooma does have the calling and mobile tools very small businesses need most. Although it sounds nice to have all the bells and whistles today's phone systems offer, many of those features would go unused by very small businesses. Ooma keeps its prices down by only providing the features very small businesses need most.
Here are the standard features Ooma Office includes that all users, regardless of the type of phone they are using, have access to:
- Unlimited local and long-distance calling: With this system, there is no limit to the number or length of calls businesses can make to numbers in the U.S. and Canada.
- Virtual receptionist: The virtual receptionist is the first voice callers hear when dialing your business. The virtual receptionist greets callers, directs them to the person or department they are trying to reach and share information about your business, such as hours of operation or your address.
- Voicemail: Each user has their own voicemail box.
- Call transfers: Easily transfer calls from one user to another.
- Call logs: This keeps track of all outbound and inbound phone calls.
- Daytime and after-hours modes: You can designate the virtual receptionist to play different messages depending on the time of day. For example, during business hours, the virtual receptionist can greet callers and direct them to the employee they are trying to reach. After business hours, the virtual receptionist can let callers know that your business is closed and provide them with your hours of operation.
- Ring groups: You can place employees into different groups based on their responsibilities. Then, if a customer is looking for help that any of those employees can handle, all of their phones will ring. For example, you can put all members of a sales team in one ring group. When someone calls looking for a sales representative, the system will automatically ring all the employees in that ring group. The first one to answer handles that call.
- Music on hold: This gives customers something to listen to while they are on hold. You can upload one audio file at a time into the system. The audio file, which can't be larger than 5 MB, can contain music, if you have permission to use it, as well as information about your business.
- Call forwarding: When employees are working outside the office they can personalize the system to forward their calls to home or mobile phones. Employees can direct the system to ring their phones in a certain order, or all at once.
- Extension-to-extension dialing: Employees can easily call co-workers by dialing their extension.
- Online faxing: Instead of sending faxes via a fax machine, you can send and receive faxes through the Ooma Office online portal. Documents must be saved as a PDF file to send a fax.
Employees using IP phones have a few other features they access through their phones:
- Three-way conferencing: Instead of using the system's conference bridge, you can easily connect three people into a call using Ooma Office.
- Do Not Disturb: With this setting, all your calls will go straight to voicemail, instead of ringing through.
- Call holding: With IP phones, you can put a call on hold. With this feature, you can put one caller on hold and make another call, while the first caller is still on the line.
Ooma also offers a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices that lets employees make and receive calls using their business lines. When making an outgoing call on the app, callers will see your business phone number on their caller ID and not your personal mobile number. With the mobile app, you can also transfer calls to other employees, listen to and manage voicemails and easily access co-workers' extensions.
Should you need to make international calls, Ooma offers a wide range of international calling plans.
Ooma Office has a complete conference calling service built into its phone system. With the conference bridge feature, which comes included for no extra charge, each employee can hold their own conference call with up to 10 callers. If your company is looking to host conference calls with more callers than this phone system provides for, you will need to use a conference calling service. These services allow for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of callers on each call. You can find more information on these services on our conference call services best pick page.
Ease of Use
Ooma Office's on-premises VoIP system can be installed by someone without phone system expertise in less than 20 minutes. While the system only supports up to 20 analog phones, it can support as many as 200 IP phones.
The main component of the system is the base station. The base station serves as a full router that can prioritize voice data and direct traffic on your internet connection. This helps ensure you have solid reception on each call. The other main piece of equipment is the Linx device. These are used when connecting analog phones to the system.
The first step in setting up the system is to choose a number. You can select a local or toll-free number if you are a new business, or an established business that wants a new phone number. For businesses that want to keep phone numbers they already have, you can transfer them over from your current phone system provider. If you are porting a number over, please keep in mind that it can take several weeks to complete process and there is a one-time charge of $39.99. While the process is ongoing, you will be assigned a temporary number.
Once you have your number, you can set up the Ooma Office hardware. You first connect the base station to your high-speed internet connection. You then plug the base station's AC adapter into an electrical outlet. For the best service, Ooma recommends that you have at least 256 kbps upstream and downstream for each simultaneous call during peak usage times. Once the base station is connected, you can plug an analog phone into the unit, or plug an IP phone into your network. When the base station's blue light turns on, you can start making calls.
To connect other analog phones, plug the Linx wireless devices into a power outlet near the base unit, and press the Page key for 3 seconds. The Linx turns blue when the system recognizes it. Once it's recognized, you can move it to another part of the office and plug a phone into it.
To connect other IP phones, simply plug them into your network anywhere in your office.
Once up and running, the system is controlled via Ooma's online portal. The portal, which is easy to use and navigate, is where system administrators assign employees extensions and phone numbers, set up the automated attendant, and create ring groups.
We were pleased with the customer support we received from Ooma. To the test the level of service, we contacted the company numerous times by phone, email and live chat posing as a very small business owner interested in their phone system.
Most of the interactions we had with the company were positive. On many occasions, our calls were immediately answered by representatives who were able to spend time answering our calls. There were a couple of times where our calls weren't immediately answered, or were picked up, but no one was on the other end of the line.
Overall, most of the representatives we spoke with provided us detailed answers to our questions about how the system worked, the features available, the mobile app and pricing. There were a few times we got the answers to our questions, but they weren't in as much detail as we had wanted and the calls left us needing more information.
In addition, each time we followed up with a representative via email they immediately responded to us with answers to our questions. We also found the live chat service to helpful. Unlike some providers, where it took a long time for a customer service representative to answer our questions, we got prompt responses from the Ooma team.
Ooma provides phone support between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. Support is also available 24/7 by email and live chat.
The biggest drawback with Ooma is the one-time hardware costs. Many of its competitors are strictly cloud-based and don't have those types of built-in costs. However, if you are using analog phones, you will save money on having to purchase IP phones.
Another downside is that Ooma doesn't offer the wide array of features that many phone system providers do, such as call recording, instant messaging and video conferencing.
Editor's Note: Looking for a business phone system? Click the Compare Quotes button below to have our sister site Buyer Zone connect you with vendors that can help.
How Does Your Business Stack Up? Get a Free Business Report Card!Get My Report Card