Dealerships have a variety of telephone-related connections to the outside world for voice and data communications. Pay attention to your POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). Dealers have been adding phone lines in the dealership for years to support the addition of fax machines, credit card terminals, vehicle diagnostic equipment, and PCs with dial-up Internet access. As the phone lines used for data connections are upgraded to handle the dealership’s growing needs, the number of dial-up connections should be reviewed and probably reduced. Here are some tips:
Make sure you have a list of ALL phone numbers (lines). Don’t rely on your monthly phone bill because it may not list the phone numbers if there are no long distance charges for the month. Periodically review the location and use of each phone number to make sure it is necessary.
With the appropriate computer program installed, a PC has the ability to function like a fax machine. Do you need separate lines for both if the PC can handle the demands of a nearby fax machine?
Determine if two or more pieces of equipment can share a phone number. Most devices only dial "out" and are frequently not in use. For example, PCs that use dialup Internet access and credit card terminals would use the dedicated phone numbers infrequently. As long as the device does not have to "answer" an incoming call as a fax does, consider having the device "share" a line with similar devices.
Some types of equipment may not require a "dedicated" line. If that’s the case, the device could be connected to the dealership phone system to dial an outside line. You would simply program the device to dial a 9 (or whatever code your telephone system uses to access the shared outside lines) followed by the telephone number it’s calling. This approach may require the purchase of additional equipment, known as "analog ports," for the dealership phone system. Don’t plug any of these devices into a phone extension jack unless you have already contacted your phone system vendor or they might not work correctly. Note: The dealership phone system is not a good solution for Internet-intensive applications because the system limits the maximum connection speed to less than a common Internet connection from a dealership LAN.
The monthly expense for a POTS phone line can be quite costly. After checking a recently acquired dealership, 12 previously unknown and unused phone lines were eliminated.
Annually review the dealership’s voice communications requirements. Solicit bids for the next 12-month period from several vendors comparing service offerings and rates.