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Four Things to do Before Choosing a VoIP Service

VoIP Business PhoneThe good news is that in today’s market, you don’t have to look hard to find some really good hosted VoIP services for small businesses that rely on what we call an ‘open internet’ connection. That means that they don’t control the total connection to the proverbial switch.

Finding a good small business VoIP isn’t too hard so long as you stick to some basic guidelines, many of which are outlined here today.

Be sure that your network is in good shape

It might seem silly on its face, but make sure your network doesn’t have any problems before proceeding. Even the most simple networks can have issues that will effect the quality of your calls. Be sure you have only one server or router, that your switches are working well and that your computers are running efficiently.

It’s not all about bandwidth

One of the first things you’ll talk about when looking for a hosted VoIP phone service is the amount of bandwidth your connection has – whether that’s for downloads or uploads. While bandwidth IS important, it’s not nearly as important as making sure you’ve got a steady, ongoing, consistent connection.

Another important factor to consider is the quality of your ISP’s connection. If there is packet loss or too much latency in your system, your calls will definitely suffer. So again – before you go out and start looking at bandwidth, simply make sure your connection is consistent enough first.

Lowest price does not equal best service

It’s that age old saying that ‘you get what you pay for.’ Anytime you get a bid that’s way under the rest of the pack, it should immediately throw up a red flag. Choose a provider who has a reasonable price that’s close to his competition while balancing it out with strong service. Chances are, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Features, presentation and service – in that order.

The smaller the business, the more unique the needs – or at least that’s been our experience. As such, be sure that you pick and choose the features that mean the most to your business. Second, make sure the look and feel of the presenting company looks good – a sniff test, if you will. Make sure their website’s up to date, make sure their references are solid and always be sure to check and see who they’re doing business with. It should give you an excellent idea of what they’re all about.

Lastly, be sure they offer a solid, ongoing service option. If something goes down, you want to be sure that you’ll be covered quickly so that your downtime is minimized as much as possible.

Digital Copier Buying Tips

digital copier Without a doubt – there are do’s and don’ts to think about when you’re going to buy a copier. The range in price is enormous, with lower end models costing as little as $150 with the higher end models coming in as expensive as $50k. In most cases, a propertly remanufactured copier should cost you $2,500-$7,000 depending on your office’s needs.

So how do you get the most bang for your buck? Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge:

Don’t go cheap

While the lower end all in one that costs $300 might seem like a good deal at the time, it can quickly backfire. Their cost per page is actually five to ten times that of a larger office copier and the ink alone in one year can add up to more than a thousand dollars if you use it frequently. They’re a great deal if you have a home office, but if it’s an actual high-use situation – you’re just going to end up spending the money anyway.

Buy slightly used

By buying a digital copier slightly used, you can save up to 80% of the original cost and also protect yourself AGAINST the depreciation of buying a brand-new copy machine. Even better yet – so long as you have a solid servicing agreement – you’re not going to give up an iota of performance or reliability.

Don’t go color unless you need it

Color copiers are attractive for a lot of surface reasons, but they also cost eight times more than the traditional black and white models. It also comes with a bit of a hassle. You need to make sure your staff stays disciplined enough to use black and white settings 90% of the time, convince them to only use color on outgoing correspondence when the reality is the overwhelming majority of correspondence is internal and then convince them to keep the number of color copies THEY DO make to a minimum. Easy right!? Wrong!

Sadly, the industry is pushing color copiers because they know they’re cash cows. From our standpoint – if your business NEEDS one, then they are a great tool to have. Seriously, they are. But if you don’t need it – pass. They can cost a lot and can become a headache to manage.

 

Energy Saving Tips For The Office

copier company nyMany offices today are taking concerted efforts to make themselves more efficient. Not only is energy saving good for the environment, but it’s also great for your bottom line. In some cases, you can consume up to 90% less energy (and spend just as little) with a few frugal decisions and/or behaviors. Here are some ways you can save money and energy at your office:

Laser printers are great, but ink jet printers can be more efficient

In fact, ink jet printers use 90% LESS energy than laser printers. Now granted, if you’re a high-volume office that needs to run off a ton of printed pieces and/or NEED top quality – then obviously you’ll make and save more money using a laser printer. But if you’re not, don’t tune out the idea of using ink jet printers. Not only do they cost less up front, but their continued use can help save a pretty penny or two.

Keep your PC’s, Monitors and Copiers turned off at night

Try to avoid depending on sleep and screen savers. Not only is turning your equipment off at night better for the devices themselves, but it can also save you a lot in terms of energy costs. Even with power saving modes, you’re still spending money for essentially nothing.

Consider using laptops over desktops

For high-powered businesses, you need high-powered machines, but if you’re using your computer for basic email/word processing/spreadsheets – consider a higher end laptop. Just like ink jets and laser printers, laptops also use 90% less power than their desktop counterpoints. Most of the time, they can even run on their own battery power, consuming almost no energy at all.

Unlock the power of power strips

Smart power strips are the best. Not only do they help protect your devices, but they also cut off and minimize power flow to ancillary devices that might also be plugged in as well. Just like turning your devices off at night, it makes no sense to pay for power you’re not even using.

Staying safe: removing sensitive information from copy machines

nj copier serviceA lot of folks tend to overlook the fact that copy machines, not unlike many of the desktop applications we use, retain a saved copy of the documents we copy on the machine. In fact, more and more copiers today come with their own hard drives and as such, store images of every document they ever scan.

For businesses that handle more sensitive information, these images can present a challenge. Things like social security numbers, credit card accounts and medical records can be stored in the copy machine and as a result – become prime targets for identity thieves.

Today, we’ll share with you some steps you can take to delete that information from your copier before it becomes compromised.

FIRST STEP

It’s always a good idea to make sure you have some sort of encryption or disk overwrite software on your copier. In some cases, your copier may come with that software preinstalled on the machine, but in many cases, you’ll have to purchase it separately. What the encryption software does is that it makes sure that every copied image file is encoded while simultaneously overwriting the file on the disk to show random characters on the existing data – making it next to impossible to reconstruct the original file.

SECOND STEP

Use your security software to conduct regular disk overwrites to make sure that sensitive data on your hard drive is deleted. On some copiers, this can be complex, on others, not as much. Be sure to talk to your office supply provider for information on how to do this. If you don’t have those capabilities, see what you can do to make sure that you do.

THIRD STEP

Perform a second disk overwrite before you send the hard drive for service or handing it over to your vendor for disposal. Doing so just makes sure you have your back covered should someone attempt something in the go-between.

FOURTH STEP

Anytime you destroy anything pertaining to sensitive information, always be sure to acquire what they call a ‘certificate of destruction.’ Those certificates serve as a legal guarantee from your vendor that the information was, in fact – destroyed.

SOME OTHER TIPS

It’s always a good idea to schedule routine disk overwrites to provide a safety net in case you forget to do it. Also putting up a sign above your machine can serve as a friendly reminder to staff that the machine contains a hard drive that must be cleared in so that sensitive information that shouldn’t stored doesn’t – in fact- get stored.

A WORD TO THE WISE

Always make sure you consult with your technician before you go anywhere near your own hard drive.  In some cases, opening up your copier can void your warranty and in extreme situations, can make the system inoperable. Be patient and get the right advice from the professionals to avoid messing anything up.

Some Under-The-Radar Things to Consider About Your Copier

nj copiersHere at Legend, we’re all about all things copy machines, but as per the usual, there are almost always things that slip through the cracks that people don’t consider. As such, this week’s post isn’t so much a ‘here’s how to do this specific thing’ rather than being a ‘don’t forget’ piece. Here’s a smattering of things to remember when maintaining/managing/purchasing your next copy machine.

Training & Authorization

It’s likely that almost everyone at your company knows how to use a copy machine properly, but it’s always a good idea to have one or two people on staff who literally know almost everything there is to know about it. Most people only know enough to put the paper in the feeder and hit a green button. Having someone who can unplug paper jams, know who to reduce or enlarge, collate, use a duplex feature or a three hole punch is valuable. These experts should also know who to change the toner and what drawers to change paper out, etc.

They should also be the only ones authorized to order supplies and manage the overall maintenance contracts. Having one or two of these people on staff can help you save a lot of money and time as well as take another pesky ‘to do’ off your list.

Maintenance Agreements

Maintenance agreements to many just seem like another expense, but trust us when we say they’re worth the money. Pay a contractor independently to come in, and you get charged premium prices for parts and labor. With an agreement- those are mostly covered up front and in the event you do have an issue, it becomes considerably less expensive to fix your machine.

Managing networked copiers

Large-scale copiers are often connected to company computer networks and while they can save you a lot of time (and money), they do take some getting used to. Some folks may accidentally pick up your project or if you’re in a bigger company with more employees – it could be tied up for hours. If you do decide to network your copy machines, it’s probably smarter to network multiple, smaller copy machines rather than one bit one. Doing so helps you to manage traffic better and reduces overall wear and tear on the machines.

The obvious

Copy machines are incredibly vulnerable to static electricity, so be sure you throw a rubber mat on the floor space where any copier will be placed. The last thing you want to have to deal with is a fried copy machine because you didn’t put something between the machine and the floor.

The Five Features Your Next Phone System Must Have

phone systems nycIf you’re in the market for a new telephone system or just kicking tires, we’ve put together a list of five things you should expect when purchasing your next telephone system. Some of the latest systems not only take the edge off of many of your administrative burdens, but also increase your mobility and allow for sustainability as your business grows.

Let’s jump right in!

Web administration tools

Most telephone systems come with browser-based admin tools that allow you to manage your system over the Internet. The tool is both user-friendly and secure, enabling you to perform administrative tasks, monitor your system, and manage accounts using the Internet.

Remote extensions and mobile integration

Portability is one of the biggest advantages of today’s systems. From remote extensions that forward calls to home lines and mobile devices to on site/offsite capability, managers can now be more available than ever before. From an internal perspective, it’s also a great asset as it makes it easier to track, find and communicate with employees.

Laptop/Desktop integration

Today’s phone systems can do more than merely dial and receive calls. Most should make it easy for you to integrate your phone with your desktop or laptop, allowing you to utilize your CRM software to place and answer calls with your computer.

Scalability

Most systems today are scalable, meaning that they’re easy to expand upon as you grow. Whereas in the past offices were slaves to the technology of the time, today’s phone systems are designed to be intrinsically adaptable, allowing you to get twice as much bang for your buck by growing and expanding upon it as your business needs evolve.

Unified messaging

Unified messaging allows you to do two things:

1.)  It allows you to send voicemails to your email inbox and;

2.)  You can play those messages in a variety of places – from your desktop phone, cell phone, home phone, or whatever platform you demand.

Unified messaging is a robust tool that allows you to do a wide range of things from converting texts to voice, to integrating messages multiple platforms into one, streamlined application. For those that deal with a great deal of traffic and correspondence, this can be an invaluable tool.

 

Getting Ready To Go Paperless

copier company nycOne of the bigger buzz phrases in the business world over the last few years has been the idea of going ‘paperless.’ While that seems like a great goal, it’s not really all that realistic. In fact, we’re finding that the more people push online document management – the more they seem to be clinging to paper documents. Still, being able to move a considerable amount of your files online can reap some obvious benefits; benefits like less storage, disaster recovery and most importantly – faster access to the information you need to help your business run better.

Still the one question looms: Where do you start? That’s the question we’ll attempt to answer today. Going ‘more paperless’ is a big decision – a good decision – but also one that will take time and a decent amount of planning on your end to make it all come together. Here are some tips we’ve compiled to help you get started.

Make sure you have full buy-in from your employees – As with any significant paradigm shift in an office environment, old habbits die slowly and most people hate change. The most critical step in the process of going ‘more paperless’ is to get the full buy-in of your office staff. Without that commitment you can expect your employees going back to their old routines quickly and your plan will go nowhere.

Plan, then plan more – Once you feel like you’ve got full buy in from your employees, it’s time to sit down and evaluate your current business processes. Where is your workflow bottlenecking? Where are the most common areas where documents need to be accessed quickly? How are you filing your current documents? How do your employees retrieve documents and do they do it the same way? Once you identify those areas that need improvement, you can then develop a plan to capture your documents digitally and move them to a place where everyone can have fast, easy access to them.

Start small – One of the best ways to waste piles of cash is to go entirely paperless all at once. More often than not this creates mass confusion and is far too big of a shock to the office culture. That results in a loss of buy-in and a lot of money spent in areas where perhaps going paperless isn’t a good idea. Remember, you’re chaging a business here. It’s good to smart small – whether that’s one department at a time, one account at a time, one customer – however you decide to attack it – do it incrementally so that you have the opportunity to achieve the fastest results and achieve the best benefits possible.

Finding the right hardware & software – The most important thing to remember about hardware and software is that both are tools designed to accomplish specific tasks. They are not magical solutions that end all of your problems. Whenever you decide to purchase these resources or whatever you decide to do with them, remember that you’ll need to define and hash out a process as to how they’re going to be deployed and utilized.

Figuring out what to do with all your paper – As you know all to well, those file folders didn’t become full of paper overnight. As such, you should also understand that converting all those documents to digital format won’t happen overnight, either. Most customers are surprised at how long it can take to get all of their old documents scanned and filed into their computer network. Make sure you have a defined process as to when, how and how much you’ll need to access back-filed information and make sure it fits within your current business process.

Be patient – This is the hardest of the six tips to stick to. The typical document management process takes anywhere from six months to a year to complete. It’ll take some time and create a few headaches along the way but it’s important to remember – it’ll all be worth it in the end. Be patient and you’ll reap the rewards.

Office Essentials For Startups

OfficeEssentialsSetting up your office is one of the most exciting and time-consuming parts of starting up a new business. What you’ll need – and sometimes more importantly – what you won’t need in order to get your organization up and off the ground is one of the first big decisions you’ll have to make. This week, we’ll talk about some of the essentials – and the not-so essentials – of what you’ll need to give your business the best jumpstart possible.

Buy equipment that fits your needs – Especially when you’re starting off, you’re working with somewhat limited resources. As such, you shouldn’t be going out and buying the best high-volume, high quality printer or copier out there. In many cases, it just makes more sense to rent it and get a smaller all-in-one machine to start. Also, be realistic. Think about where your max threshold will be and buy down to the unit before it. You can always upgrade. Be realistic about what you are now, with an eye of what you’re looking to be in the future.

Think bulk – Don’t buy chairs from here, a printer there or a telephone service here. Many places – ours included – can do many things for one, lump sum. And as we’re sure you’re aware – the more you buy in one place, the less each piece costs you. So if you’re looking at an office supplier and you know you can grab some monitors, printers and copiers – AND you see that they do telephone services, too – try and bundle it all together. Very few services are set it stone and chances are, you’ll be able to negotiate a great rate that works for everyone.

Don’t cheap out on phones- I know everyone talks about having cell phones and that you can trim some costs here and there – and truth be told – for small startups that have one or two employees, that’s fine. But by the time you’re buying an office, the chances are that that’s not the case. When you own a business, you’ll have lots of people vying for your time – and your ears. If all they have is your cell phone and email, that’s the only way they can get in contact with your business. Giving them a place to reach out – and potentially have the phone picked up by someone else – increases the likelihood of your getting their business. Being as available as possible is important.

Document management – While success is measured by dollars and cents in the business world, the currency that creates currency is information. The better an organization organizes, uses and manages it – is what separates the companies that are successful and the ones that end up failing. Whether it’s online archiving, protecting or distributing that information – having a system in place early on – and getting you into a habit of using it, can create a tremendous advantage for a small business.

Network infrastructure is an investment, not an expense – If a heart is what keeps a person alive by pumping blood and distributing nutrients, then your computer networking should be treated the same way for your business. It’s the heart of your business and the lifeblood of any successful organization today. Don’t go cheap on security. Don’t go cheap on the ways your organization will face and communicate with the world. You exercise and eat right to take care of your heart. Do the same with your network infrastructure to take care of your business.

How to Avoid Paper Jams

PaperJamPaper jams in copiers are a pain and are easily the largest causes of headaches among their users. Nothing’s worse than having to fiddle with a jammed copier when time’s a ticking and you need to get back to work.

While there are many reasons that paper jams occur, there are some precautionary things you can do to avoid them altogether. Here’s what you can do:

Always fan paper before loading – Generally speaking, paper tends to stick together due to moisture depending on where it’s stored. When you open new printer paper or before you go to make copies, simply run your thumb down the side of the paper to let some air in there and loosen up the paper. It’ll help make the feed through the machine much easier.

Load the paper squarely in the drawer – All jams occur largely because of improper feeding. We know this sounds silly, but be sure to have the paper loaded squarely and make sure it’s lined up correctly. Make sure the slider is up against the paper nice and snug as well. This just ensures that the paper will feed properly.

Check the feeding roller quickly before printing/copying – While you SHOULD get a warning if your rollers are off, it’s always a good idea to check anyway. If they get overly sticky, they can cause jams. If they break – well, then it’s time to give us a call. Either way, always check quickly and make sure everything looks good and that there isn’t something already stuck in there.

Keep tabs on your paper settings – We’d love to say otherwise, but you know as well as we do that when people are done copying, they leave their settings up more often than not. When people come by to use it afterwards, they often don’t pay attention to the settings on the screen and well – that usually means instant jam. Especially when you’re talking about card stock thickness and textured paper, be sure you have the proper settings up.

 

 

The Most Common Mistakes When Upgrading Your Copier

manhattan copier companyIs your copy lease coming up soon? Are you a little friendlier than you’d like to be with your copy tech because of all the issues you’re having with your machine? Or maybe you just got off the phone with a rep and can upgrade and keep your payments the same. Whatever the reason might be, you’re flirting with the idea of upgrading your copy machine. While that’s certainly a good thing on a variety of levels – mistakes do get made. As such, our topic du jour today talks about some of the most common mistakes business owners make when they’re looking to upgrade their machine.

Here they are:

Not taking the time to reassess your needs – Businesses change over time and so do their needs. Technology changes at an even faster rate and its effect on how you get your day to day tasks done can be significant. That’s why it’s important that whenever you’re looking for an upgrade, that you take these factors into consideration. How much printing do you need? What technology can meet that need and what does it cost? It’s always important to take a look at where you are and deploy the tools you’ll need to get to the next level. Copy machines are no different.

List out your objectives – This goes right off the previous point. Now that you know your needs, what are your goals and objectives? Do you need something fast and cheap; do you need something with lots of bells and whistles? Or; do you need something specifically designed to fit your needs? Whichever way you go, line up your needs with your objectives and you should have no problems finding a sweet spot.

Not taking a demo – Always ask for a demonstration of a new machine. Remember that bit about technology? This is why it’s important! Seeing a demo allows you to see what’s new and great about the machine – but it also allows you to see what you might already have. If the upgrade isn’t worth it – don’t do it.

Ask questions. Lots of them – The biggest issue we still encounter to this day is that people aren’t willing to ask questions. The best way to see that your needs are met is to mine for the answers you’re looking for. Information is more valuable than gold and that is especially true when you’re looking to upgrade your infrastructure to take that next big step with your company. Ask more questions!