Creating a SIP trunking service is fairly simple. You won’t be carrying any traffic over your own cables, so you just need to provide users with the software necessary to channel all of their calls over the internet.
However, issues can still arise, and creating a SIP trunk free service adds budgetary challenges to the mix. In this post, we’ll cover some of the challenges you may face when creating your SIP trunk free service and how you can manage them.
SIP trunk free services
If you’ve decided to make your SIP trunk free for all, you’ll need to make sure your complimentary service will still provide returns. Although there are few operating costs to SIP trunking, you’ll have to get the software for the system, pay for advertising, and man a help desk. You’ll also need a host to store your software on, someone to update the code periodically, and a method to track all of your customers and distribute updates to them. Your service will therefore need to generate enough revenue to cover these costs.
The main challenges you may face will likely fall into the following categories:
- Income generation: You might be using the SIP trunk free offer as a loss leader to attract customers for other services.
- Cost control: If your service is free, you’ll need to keep costs down.
- Expertise: Can you afford to keep programmers on staff?
- Customer expectation: You’ll end up fielding support calls for all types of service issues that are outside the scope of your service.
- Marketing effort: Even though your service is free, you need to let the business community know that your company exists.
- Service quality: Customers will expect you to enhance the quality and capacity of their internet connections.
- SIP termination: Make sure you clarify you termination strategy communicate it effectively.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these potential issues.
1. Income Generation
There are many justifications to running an operation that has no apparent profit motive. For one, it attracts new customers and can be a good “land grab” strategy for future income streams. For example, let’s say a new player in the SIP trunking business needs to create space in the market and grab attention. Making the SIP trunk free will attract new businesses to the service, enabling them to upsell other services.
However, when making your SIP trunk free, you must have an income generator to help you cover the cost of your SIP trunking businesses.The free SIP trunk could be just one element in a package of paid services. You could also make the SIP trunk free as a trial or offer the first month free. One other option is to create a SIP trunk free service to build up a customer base, creating an incomeless asset that larger competitors would be willing to buy out. You won’t make a profit on turnover, but you will make money when you sell up.
Whatever your business plan, make sure that you have enough capital to support your activities until your strategy starts to generate income. The biggest challenge that you will face with your SIP trunk free offer strategy is financing its operations.
2. Cost Control
The easiest way to lose money is to spend more than you’re bringing in. Every good idea needs time to get off the ground, and you buy yourself more time by opting for free services yourself.
Look for suppliers that will give you free trial periods for their services, and opt for free versions of necessary business software rather than paying for it or hiring people to write bespoke software for you.
You can also try running a virtual office instead of renting physical premises. Your telecommuting associates will likely appreciate the opportunity, and you would have cut out a major cost.
If you don’t have any technical expertise yourself, you can save on the cost of paying for a top technician by taking that expert on as a partner. In doing so, you won’t have to pay for someone to manage the technical side of your business. You’ll lose a part of your profit potential, but if you’re offering your SIP trunk free of charge, you won’t be making any profits to lose.
If the SIP trunk is free just to promote a profit-earning sideline, then offer a technical expert a part of the SIP trunking operation only. This will ensure you don’t lose any income by sharing the ownership of your SIP trunking service.
Advertising on freelancing sites for low-cost technicians who live in low-income countries is another strategy for cutting the cost of expertise. You don’t have to hire people on staff and you shouldn’t pay top dollar if your business has no income. If you decide to adopt the virtual office concept, then your contributors can be based anywhere in the world.
4. Customer Expectation
Customers that turn away from a high-cost SIP trunking option and choose your free SIP trunk service can’t expect to get all of the features that a paid service would bring.
However, you need to be sure to manage the expectations of all potential customers upfront. If you present yourself as an equal to the telecommunications multinationals in the SIP market, you are setting yourself up for an overwhelming challenge. Make it clear that you’re in the market to win, but establish the boundaries of your service and spell out its limitations. Otherwise, you will fail to deliver on the scope of service that your customers were promised.
Assess your capabilities objectively and don’t overpromise. If visitors to your online sales presentation understand your strengths and forgive your weaknesses before they sign up, they will be more realistic about the service once they get on board.
5. Marketing effort
If you have zero income, you have zero budget. That means no money for operations or marketing. Fortunately, the best marketing tool available for online businesses is free: search engine optimization.
If you aren’t a marketing guru or an SEO expert, then you are going to hit the challenge of hiring talent for nothing. This could be another ownership share opportunity. In all likelihood, you have another income stream up your sleeve and your free SIP trunking service is actually part of the marketing strategy for that. If that is indeed the case, your SIP trunk free innovation is a marketing expense and not a profit center. You’ll thus reduce the challenges of your SIP trunking enterprise if you allocate it a budget taken from the profits of your main income stream.
Setting a budget rather than raising funds on an ad hoc basis allows you to plan expenditure and limit your marketing spending. Don’t let the cost of your SIP trunk free service gobble up all of the profits of your income generators.
6. Service Quality
As mentioned above, the challenges of providing a quality service are closely tied to customer expectations. You’ll need to have a customer service channel, but you don’t need to make it live. Provide a knowledge base or FAQ page on your website that will enable your customers to answer their own questions.
You can also provide technical support via email and auto respond to every incoming email with an acknowledgment that states a reasonable timeframe within which the inquirer can expect a response. This removes the challenge that you would otherwise face of repeated emails on the same subject from the same customer before you have the chance to respond. Prepare standard replies to common questions and try to discourage customers from complaining to you about the quality of their internet service and other issues that are beyond your control.
7. SIP Termination
SIP termination is the only part of your operations that could eat up all of your budget if you’re not careful. As such, be sure to work out how to avoid paying for it before you start up your free SIP trunking service. One solution is to make it clear that termination is not included in the free service.
If you don’t have an income-generating SIP termination strategy, don’t offer it—that’s one service you definitely won’t be able to get for free on your end from any carrier. Make it clear that your service is computer-to-computer.
If your SIP trunking operations don’t make money, the operating costs are going to have to be funded from somewhere else. One option is to resell PBX and SIP termination services to generate an income stream and write off part of the profits from those activities to fund your free SIP trunking service.
Making a SIP Trunk Free and Successful
As an entrepreneur, you’re probably already adept at squeezing value out of every strategy. Offering a technical service can be difficult if you have just happened upon the idea as a consumer. It’s true that if you identify a need for your own use, there are probably millions of others out there that might want that service, too. However, technicians who already work in the telecoms industry will stand a better chance of creating a startup SIP trunk free service.
It’s easier to run a business if you’re capable of performing the work yourself. Not only does this cut initial costs, but knowing what you are talking about means you better understand the technical issues involved. This makes it harder for the people and companies that you hire to pretend that the task is more complicated than it needs to be. You’ll also find it difficult to communicate with specialists and write out contracts if you don’t present confidence in the subject matter.
In short, you increase your chances of success and eradicate many potential challenges if you are already an expert and insider in the field of internet telephony. Control costs, seek out partners, become an expert in the field, establish boundaries, and don’t over-promise.
You’ll also want to make sure that the people you deal with in your business are experts. By offering a free service, you’re living on the edge, and the risk of failure is greatly heightened. You’ll need to rely heavily on your business partners, so ensure that you’re only dealing with reputable, trustworthy, and experienced people.
Try to look for reliable businesses that serve other SIP trunking operations and have no interest in stealing your idea. It’s also a good idea to look for a partner that offers services that you can sell on for a profit to help you cover the costs of the SIP trunk free service that you run.
If you’re unsure where to find such a partner, consider reaching out to IDT Express for more information on setting up a SIP trunk free service.