Tony Raynor's Blog

The thoughts and ramblings of a small business owner

February 17, 2012
by Tony Raynor

Why Phones Can Hurt You

Conflicts are best avoided if possible, there are no winners in a war and many other such sayings are used daily. They emanate from wise men that recognised the value of words in settling differences. They were correct as demonstrated universally by such as the Northern Ireland Troubles and Israel’s territorial disputes. Disagreements are only ever sorted out when discussion takes place. If you are in agreement with that then read on. Continue Reading →

Phone Systems Firm Earwigs

February 14, 2012
by Tony Raynor

Results of Abbey Telecom Survey

These are the statistical facts from the questionnaire verified by independent market researchers from MCM Consultancy in January 2012.  A detailed table is at the foot of this document. You can continue to voice anonymously by using a pseudonym and commenting to this blog post. We’re all ears!Listening Phone Systems Supplier

Les Prenton and his team, who compiled the questions, are grateful that 17% of customers took time from their busy days to complete the online survey and would like to express their thanks. The winner of the Kindle prize draw is revealed here by Colin Hendry.

Key Figures

93% would recommend us for phone systems to others. Liz McMichael is in the process of advising us on conducting further in depth phone interviews with the 7% who gave indicated that they would not be recommending us or disagreed strongly with some of the statements in our form. Subject to these folk giving their permission for follow-up. The target will be to gather suggestions as to what we can do or could have done better.

90% stated that we were highly responsive to faults.

85% said that our engineers build good relationships.

85% said that we offer excellence in our care.

84% thought that we have a “can-do approach”

81% said that we would be the first company that they would ring when upgrading.

80% have utilised us for support of their phone systems for over half a decade.

79% of respondents said that they were unaware of the free resources such as telephone training tips offered by our websites. We intend to duplicate things such as our Samsung OfficeServ help videos across all of our key domains during this year so that whichever of our internet brands users recognise us for, they will discover it all. We cannot link some URLs for SEO strategic reasons. We are also discussing the introduction of a newsletter.

74% say that our annual contracts are competitive so we’ll explore why the other 26% utilise us to see what we can learn.

70% agreed that we deliver excellent value for money. That is always a tricky one for buyers to admit.

69% were satisfied with the amount of sales interaction from us and would not require more communiqué. However 31% desired greater communication but each expressed a range of preferences varying from phone, emails to visits. We aim to devise a mechanism for seeking out what they individually prefer and flag this on our database. We are mindful that those already happy with the level of contact must not get unwelcome increases.

61% declared that we were unbeatable on initial price. We need to establish why the remaining 39% still choose us.

44% consider cost to be a driving factor in buying our phone systems. We take this as an indicator that we have to focus on freezing prices as we have since 1992. Socket rates (£40) and such remain the same as they did 20 years ago whilst maintenance charges have actually dropped.

24% were recommended by someone else to use us. We didn’t know this!

Almost everyone complained about the volume of telesales calls received into their business by companies other than ours. We will publish the numbers on these intrusions in a subsequent posting.

We are digesting all of these findings and will discuss how we should mould our operation to win even more positives from our clientele who are our life-blood and raison d’être. We understand that we have to implement changes and wish these to be properly considered. Watch this space!

Please do make a comment. We want to gain knowledge from your thoughts.

Phone System Stats

Phone System Stats

February 6, 2012
by Tony Raynor

Lancashire TweetUp was “Twit-Free”

I feel so young, well mentally anyway! I have just been to my first TweetUp and it wasn’t too bad.

Scrummy Food

I didn’t know what to fully expect in advance of the gathering. It was organised by @DukPond in the private function room at Pond award winning tapas restaurant just off Winkley Square in Preston.

I secretly dislike networking or any occasion where I have to chat with large groups of people before I actually know them. But this was different. It was so well attended that the upper floor was at capacity (estimated 65). But it wasn’t heavy or BNI-like at all. It just worked without fuss.

The organisers gave a great introduction and highlighted how many networkers can be in your face, at business orientated meetings of this type. I wrote about it here in an earlier blog and called it lack of foreplay. They set the scene perfectly and had sufficient pre-organised activities to get dialogue rolling.

I’m lousy at names but I’ll try to recall the details of a few that I met. There was;

Natalie @AmaboBoutiqueToo Many Peeps (Owns a boutique in Lytham)

Derek Deighton @deldeighton (an engineer turned agent of change with an interesting blog about how our commercial world must become more economic with resources)

Catherine Curry @PinklinkBurnley of Pink Link Ladies (A women’s forum – I daren’t ask more)

Sharon Snape @altitudestudio (Who owns a premises design and fit-our firm)

Georgie Lomax @altitudestudio1 (A graduate staff member in  Sharon’s team)

@Insurancerepair (A V6 Golf driver with several laps of the Nurburgring under his belt who runs a property claims management and repair business)

@lancashirelife (A Preston based journo who really gets out and about looking after content on Lancashire Life Website)

Jane Caunce @ellisonprinting (Runs a printers, a family and a prolific Twitter profile)

Ali Hanscombe @AliHandscomb (Authority on leadership and healthcare and renowned blogger)

Emma Maudsley @SockMonkeyEmp (Produces monkeys made from socks because some folk need those)

Paula Hardman @PaulaSHx (Brazilian book reviewer who lives in the Ribble Valley)

Simon Moore @Sci_Tie (Inventor of biodegradable cable ties)

Sandra Rolstron @SelectHR (HR consultant)

To those that I missed, I apologise. I did expect to meet some nerdy twits but there wasn’t a “twit” in sight. So it was pure volume of attendees that prevented me from chatting with all of those in attendance.

Asian Phone Systems Weakness

February 1, 2012
by Tony Raynor

Having Business Phone Calls Answered Abroad

Asian Phone Systems WeaknessI would seriously question why companies who give a dam would consider having their phone systems answered by Indian subcontractors. Electrical supply is intermittent and the sight of their cables is beyond belief.

India is a fantastic country with really lovely people. I can confirm this because I have just completed a two week break in Goa. It’s nothing like I expected and I fully anticipate this nation will grow and become one of the economic power houses of the world.

There is no doubt that recent growth has outsourcing to thank for both expansion and increased pay levels. These guys are strong in engineering and many kids that I questioned wanted to become engineers. Bae now has it’s Hawk aircraft, which is a jet trainer, manufactured there. So the next time that you see the Red Arrows remember where they come from and why jobs have been lost in Brough, Warton and Samlesbury.

The levels of politeness are highly desirable and folk have time for you. It may be having a population of 1.2 billion that enables service to be so good. There are more Chinese at the moment but that will change over the next 20 years.

The things that hold them back now seem to be infrastructure related. The roads are atrocious and telecom and electrical cable networks laughable. They will undoubtedly address these issues and develop to become commercially dominant. There is certainly no lack of willingness to work. They are largely industrious and education is universal now.

There have been huge inroads made into IT outsourcing as our conglomerates have moved big departments out to Mumbai and Delhi. We ourselves have utilised small outfits in Andheri Bombay since 2009 for much of our website development. But we draw the line at having our phone systems answered there.

Colin Hendry BRFC

January 30, 2012
by Tony Raynor

Colin Hendry Picks a Winner – Video

For some years I have been criticised by the staff for turning sales into a dirty word at Abbey Telecom. It all stems back to my time at Mercury Communications where I was the recipient of complaint letters from customers feeling that they had been oversold by our army of dealers pushing their phone systems. I was determined not to make the same mistake of overselling.

When we started in 1992 we set out to source business come from inbound enquiries by inventive means. Early days focussed on local PR but then graduated to include regional networking. Since 2000 our growth has emanated from websites and search engine optimisation.

I insist that our strategy is right as we address a sector of industry that doesn’t welcome continual canvassing. The rest of the team disagree and say that we should at least communicate with existing clients about new options for their phone systems.

Luck would have it that I bumped into Liz McMichael at a seminar that was kindly organised by our auditors, Mayes Accountants of Accrington. She was launching a market research firm and I was to become the inaugural client.

If we were going to the expense of surveying I wanted to incite as much response as possible so I incentivised with a Kindle. To ensure that the draw was fair I preferred an external person to pull out the winning ticket and the race was on to pick the best character.

Colin Hendry (Big Col)

The Big "C"

Given that it requires a degree of courage to voice an opinion in a survey I thought who is better than “Braveheart” himself. Colin’s warmth towards Blackburn, since his huge contribution at Rovers, is well documented. So here is the “Big Man” selecting the victor on Sunday 29th January 2012.

Phone Systems for Donna

January 18, 2012
by Tony Raynor

Giving Phone Systems to Charity

All businesses should give something to a charity but cannot do universally for commercial reasons. Traditionally we have passed a cheque to North West Air Ambulance in lieu of sending Christmas cards and plan to continue with this. I am biased toward this because I admire the tenacious woman who heads NWAA and I am a biker who runs the risk of being a service user.

Phone Systems for Donna

Phone Systems for Donna

My other, less tangible, work has orientated towards affording my time to business support trusts such as Blackburn and Darwen Enterprise trust and East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. All of this is a million miles away from my specialism of phone systems.Whilst holidaying over New Year my wife learnt of the fire at Donna’s Dream House in Blackpool. They provide short breaks to families who are caring for a child in the last few weeks of life. Apparently some low-lives broke in to steal IT kit and committed an arson attack simultaneously. We found this to be an abhorrent crime and pledged to do a deal for them upon our return.Ironically, once back in Blighty, I was approached on Twitter by @katkat1987 for some dinner raffle prizes. It didn’t seem that one DECT handset would assist significantly so I appointed to discuss phone systems with their Chairman, Len Curtis. Needless to say they will be enjoying the benefits of modern phone systems (supplied and fitted free) before their full re-opening in March.BUSINESS PEOPLE LISTEN UP …….. It doesn’t have to be big items like phone systems. If you think that you have anything to donate then speak to them on 01253 7522222. I guarantee that it will make your spiritual side feel really good. Think karma!
TabPhone for Phone Systems

January 17, 2012
by Tony Raynor

Don’t Think that iPhones Integrate with Phone Systems

Cradles are starting to appear on the market which claim integration with phone systems, but is this strictly true? Although there is a definite requirement for mobiles and phone systems to merge together, it could be that some claimants are jumping the gun when it comes to bragging rights.

TabPhone for Phone Systems

Illustrated by Alison Raynor

There is no doubt that Samsung are leading the way of genuine convergence with their OfficeServ Softphone app which is designed to run on their tab. The software enables GSM use in the street but wi-fi  Voip where a data signal to the internet is possible. This means that your handset will be a zero cost extension to your phone systems thus giving you free contact with the office whenever hooked up. The added benefit is that you will utilise your phone systems outside lines for cheaper calls even though your connection to your phone systems may be at a distance on the web.

This also results in any of the phone systems other functionalities such as voice recording applying to mobility extensions. Imagine being facilitated to retrieve a recorded conversation that took place on a cellphone.

The latest of Samsungs tabs is named the Note and features a 7” screen but these are scheduled to grow towards 10” widescreen while fitting inside the average sized jacket pocket. Whilst the working with phone systems thing is already offered it will be later in the year before there is a hardware interface.

The phone systems will have a dock for your Galaxy to sit in. This will behave as a keypad as well as the LCD for video conferencing and general control. But the docks will act as phones whether the device is present or not. You won’t be able to dial anyone but they can still be answered.

The absence of screens will result in uber-low production overheads and narrow the number of alternative keyphones that the Korean manufacturer will have to offer. Each user will enjoy every feature available despite the budget telephone as the slave work is performed by the Notes rather than the phone systems. This is a compelling reason to switch to IP phone systems from Korea as they are the sole maker who straddles both phone systems and cellular. Bring it on, I say!

Phone Systems or Motors

January 13, 2012
by Tony Raynor

I’d Sooner Buy a New BMW than Invest in Phone Systems

When the moment comes when your firm cannot survive without phone systems then, as a boss, you are faced with a dilemma. Brand spanking, off the production line motor – or phone systems.Phone Systems or Motors

Whether it is a bema, a Merc, a Rolls or an Aston, I bet there are a million other things you would rather purchase than boring phone systems.

And, to be fair, on most occasions you would be correct in that assumption, but could you imagine the amount of flack you would get if you went for the former?

As cool as you might look cruising the streets in your set of wheels, you may well be doing your organisation a massive detriment in not investing in the phone systems it so badly needs.

Cars come and go but phone systems have a few more advantages in that the insurance on them tends either not to exist or is very small, they won’t cost anything in petrol (actually many of them are powered by a thing called electricity these days) and they will not break down on the M6 at rush hour in the howling wind and driving rain. And I have already mentioned the staff that will have to operate the phone systems. For months they have been on your back demanding you part with some cash for the phone systems and not drooling over vehicles which could kill you a damn sight quicker than a phone call will.

The stress of buying phone systems will be over in a matter of hours whereas having to deal with stressed out employees will last a lot longer.

Plus, the car you drive will lose 20 per cent of its price as soon as you leave the garage forecourt; phone systems do not depreciate that much. Take note business owners, phone systems are for life.

January 4, 2012
by Tony Raynor

New Year Resolution For Business

The time is now and it is here,
The moment of a brand new year.
It’s prime to set a resolution,
But it need not be – a revolution.

It’s wise to think how we answer phones,Answering Phones Professionally
Without this thought we sound like drones.
It’s not just speed that matters most,
Without consistency … your firm is toast.

What you say has a huge impact,
So optimise and keep profits intact.
Greeting, company and then your name,
Will not make you all sound the same.

To get it right you must listen,
Concentrate and you won’t miss ‘em.
If you’re chewing then they can hear,
An empty mouth keeps you out of the mere.

Be prepared … the boy scouts say,
So with pen in hand you won’t delay.
Don’t be saying … I’ll find a biro,
Or you’ll be on a boat to Cairo.

If you want more tips on how to respond,
Who-is-This can help you bond.
It’s a site we’ve made to give you hints,
Absorb the clips and they’ll not wince!

Full and FREE help at


Phone Systems Seller

November 14, 2011
by danielpickin

Finding an Apprentice is not Easy

We had a great opportunity for a local young person (now filled) to step into a genuine long term career in a modern industry that is likely to have some legs of longevity. You can imagine my surprise when I found that tracking down some prospective candidates for our phone systems operation was akin to “platting fog”.

To offer some background, I should stress that our phone systems company was established 19 years ago, so we are not some risky and underfunded start-up. The business trades without loans or overdrafts and has zero indebtedness. Even the cars are purchased for cash with not a lease or HP agreement in sight. Indeed we boast the best of all the points that the cautious individual should seek for a secure future.

Better still the role was in sales of phone systems and this is the highest paid job within Abbey Telecom. I’m not saying that selling is easy but it’s easier here purely because our Managing Director is so marketing driven. I have the luxury of being lavished with inbound enquiries. The icing on my cake is that I’ve just taken delivery of my second BMW convertible since joining.

Phone Systems BDM

Phone Systems BDM - Daniel Pickin

I’m not asserting that a new starter would be jumping straight into a cabriolet but other benefits are numerous. As an example, we will be heading for an Amsterdam shortly for one of our annual Christmas parties. I’ve been here for an 8 year period and I’m a new-boy!

We started with 3 interviews and 2 of the interviewees were late for their appointment. None of them had researched our history despite this being the age of the internet. So we moved to prequalifying applicants by phone. One of them opened up with “hiya mate”.

The position is eventually satisfied but when I next meet a careers advisor I will have a few pointers to rant about!