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How to Deal with those Pesky Vendor & Supplier Phone Calls

Many business owners have a love-hate relationship with the vendors and suppliers their company relies on to keep things running smoothly – count me as one of them.thumbs up and down

On one hand, when I need one of these companies I want to them to:

  1. have a person answer the phone when I call them;
  2. respond immediately, and;
  3. do so at the lowest costs possible.

On the other hand when I feel I don’t need them, I really would rather not hear from them.  Except, I also understand that many times while I may not feel I need to speak to them, they may have information that is in my company’s best interest to know about.

So as busy as we all are, here are several effective methods for managing unsolicited calls from vendors/suppliers in a way that keeps you properly informed while not becoming a drag on your time:

  • Be upfront with your vendors and suppliersclear direction
    Give them clear direction as what in your mind constitutes considerate and professional keeping in touch and what methods you find bothersome. Personally I like to get email first requesting a time to speak to me and then a phone call. However if you are person who easily gets overwhelmed by emails, other methods may work best. (Good old-fashioned US mail sometimes works for me too.)hold up your end
  • Once you have set those parameters hold up your end of the agreement
    Return the emails, take the phone calls etc. Don’t ignore them.  Doing so both sours the relationship and with some personality types, just encourages them not to hold up their end of the agreement – which is in neither party’s best interest
  • Appreciate that your vendors are keenly aware that they have competitors out there and they want to keep your businesskeeping my business
    Personally, I like doing business with companies hungry to keep my business. I am always a little concerned and even suspicious about organizations that take my company’s business for granted.

I am also big on having a proactive relationship with my vendors and suppliers, which helps my company keep costs down while taking preventive measures to avoid major problems and expenses.

Bottom line: The relationship between a company and its vendors is a bit of a dance, but when it works well everyone is happy; when it doesn’t work well, everyone loses.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you have tips, suggestions and comments to add? If so, I would love to hear from you.

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How to Protect Your Phones & IT Equipment During a Hurricane

Especially during hurricanes and tropical storms, many companies spend unnecessary amounts of money recovering from lightning and other storm related power surges, any of which can fry equipment beyond repair, rather than a much smaller amount to avoid equipment damage altogether.

Harmful Spikes
To help ensure that your phones and other related equipment remain undamaged by hurricane-related surges, here are some tips that might help:

  1. Battery Backup/UPS everything. 
    This includes copiers, phones routers, internet modems, routers, switches; even the boxes provided by your internet and phone carriers need to be connected to a UPS battery backup unit. If you have TV’s in your office that go through the same cable equipment as your internet carrier, put UPS’s on those too. A POWER SURGE NEEDS ONLY TO FIND ONE WEAKNESS IN YOUR SURGE SUPPRESSION TO BLOW OUT ..,EVERYTHING.

  2. Surge suppress your old style phone lines for not just phones, but also alarms & faxes.
    And do this even if they are supplied by your internet carrier. There are fuse like devices that your phone lines can be routed through that – if they work properly – will take the power hit before the surge hits your phones, fax machines or alarm systems.

  3. Don’t depend on surge strips.
    Folks spend $10 – $15 each on 6 or 8 plug strips and think they are protected. Fact is in my 35+ years in this business, there was not one incident in which power surge strips actually stopped a surge.power strip
    Use a UPS battery backup instead. If you like you can plug the power strip into a UPS UPS unit and sue the power strip that way – depending on what your local fire code permits.

  4. Use the resources provided by your electric/power company.
    Many companies have some very affordable plans to put into place a system that will protect your whole office or building.  Or…
     
  5. Consult  a licensed electrician.
    Although your phone vendor, IT company and others can do a lot to help you minimize the risk of power surges damaging your electronic office equipment, a highly qualified electrician is the best resource for you to protect your entire office at once – including your air conditioner & other appliances

  6. Finally turn it off and unplug “everything from everything”…
    …including disconnecting devices from  internet power and phones lines. If you dont want to to lose it unplug it!  Especially during weekends, power outletvacations or holidays. Sure it’s a pain in the neck to turn on and reconnect everything when you have returned but put simply, electric surges can’t hit and damage something to which there is no connection.

Robocalls: Not Just an Annoyance, But a Threat

Back when machines (or programs) first started making calls as a way to cheaply find a live person answering his/her phone, they were more annoyance than anything else.

robocalls

However, as the technology has evolved, they have now become a true threat: With the exception of reminders from medical professionals and pharmacies, many of these calls come from scammers, thieves, collection agencies and the like.

To help you combat this latest technological scourge, I’ve compiled the information you’ll need to both better understand the dangers it poses, and and some tips for avoiding them.

Dangers:

  • New AI (artificially Intelligent) programs can fool you into thinking you are speaking with a live person. The calls use even the most basic responses from you to then commit you to fraudulent activities. I consider this to be is the most dangerous threat;
  • Simply by answering the phone (even if you say nothing) you could find yourself on the equivalent of a “do call list” and the calls increase, clogging your phone line; in many cases the folks paying for robocalling do not care if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call List (Registry);
  • A Robocaller from another state or overseas can easily generate a local caller ID signature, thus fooling you into answering/considering the source legit and it’s downhill from there (see bullets 1 & 2).

What to do (personal phones):

  • Register all personal/mobile numbers with the National Do Not Call List.
    If you have a Google Voice number remember to register that too. While it may not stop some callers, it at least cuts down on the number of calls you’ll receive.
  • If you don’t recognize the incoming call phone number, don’t answer it.
    Let it go to voice mail. If it’s legitimate, the caller will leave a message.
  • Do not say a word.  If by accident you do answer the call and you don’t know the caller,  hang up.
  • Never hit the opt-out option.
    This used to be a legitimate way to stop further calls, but now it’s a sign to the robocalling service that they have reached an active line. This will result in more robocalls.
  • Use your cell phone blocking feature.
    This by itself is far from a full proof solution to the problem but it helps
  • Report suspicious calls to the FCC.

What to do (office)
(especially one that gets large number of calls from unrecognizable numbers)

The good news is that most of the current voice scams won’t work on calls to businesses simply because at any given time multiple people can be answering the phone and that defeats some of the scams.  But they do still happen, and when they do:

  • Don’t hit the opt out option
  • Report any suspicious calls to the FCC
  • Do an internet search on the phone number
    …to determine if a legitimate person or company is associated with that number. You can then decide whether taking calls from that number benefits your business.

If you have any questions on this or any other phone safety topic, don’t hesitate to call us at  813-276-1666, or toll free: 866-459-7266.