Calling in Business
The latest quarterly SME Finance Monitor report from BDRC Continental (Business Development Research Consultants) reveals a positive trend for the UK’s smaller businesses. The increasing profitability, decreasing reliance on finance and improving risk ratings reported were all healthy indicators of the way in which SMEs are driving the economy.
With the Bank of England’s MPC split on the subject of interest rate rises at their last meeting, the way in which SMEs are decreasing their reliance on external funding can only be seen in a positive light. With 78% of SMEs meeting the definition of ‘happy non-seekers’ of finance and with 53% of SMEs looking to grow, the outlook for SMEs is broadly positive.
But that doesn’t mean that SMEs can afford to be complacent. In a rising marketplace it is all too easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. For SMEs, and for larger businesses, the task is to continue to drive sales whilst keeping costs in check. And driving sales means not only producing innovative products at competitive prices but also making the business visible and easily contactable. In an increasingly global marketplace, depending on the sector competition can come from anywhere. More worrying still, disruptors (businesses which are looking to take your market share) are increasingly coming in from other sectors as businesses look to diversify or offer complimentary services.
Careful use of social media allied to a well maintained website can make a huge difference to business visibility for many SMEs but when it comes to contactability, the choice of telephone number can be crucial. Quite simply, the more you align your business phone number to your identified marketplace and the easier you make it for potential customers to call, the greater the chance of initiating contact which can lead to sales.
With options ranging from freephone and low cost numbers via local and national rate numbers and on to premium rate lines, the choice of numbers for the UK’s businesses has never been better. For those businesses which want to encourage callers to get in touch and are happy to pay for the calls, then 0800 numbers may well be the answer, particularly as 0800 numbers are not tied to any one location. But in an increasingly mobile world, 0800 numbers can still cost callers a high premium. In response to this, businesses may well prefer to opt for 0333 numbers. These are non-geographic numbers which cost no more than a standard 01 or 02 number to call and are free for those with ‘inclusive minutes’ dialling packages.
Businesses which prefer to keep the local touch may decide to opt for a UK regional number. In the past this has caused problems for businesses which are on the boundary between regions but now, thanks to call routing technology, businesses can advertise multiple local call numbers with all calls being routed to a single answering point. For the increasing number of one or two-man band SMEs caller routing can also be the answer when you need to be out and about. Routing calls at will to another mobile or landline enables SMEs to stay in touch whilst on the move. With a good phone system and appropriate choice of phone numbers to hand, the future looks bright for the UK’s army of SMEs.