The challenges of moving a small business: Getting connected

On August 1, I moved from Western Massachusetts to Durham, North Carolina. My business, of course, also moved with me because I’m a solopreneur. The move presented a number of challenges, but the one I didn’t anticipate was that finding decent phone service would be problematic. In this day and age, you wouldn’t think it would take two and a half weeks to get a good phone connection, but that was the case here.

As a result, I had one week in which clients could barely reach me via phone because, amazingly, my current cell phone vendor is also providing very poor connectivity at my new home office. Then during the next week and a half, we did have phone service but it was of such poor quality that a scheduled conference call with a client and another vendor was painful to listen to, at least from my side.

The first company we tried was going to bundle our phone, Internet and TV service. Only one vendor to deal with; what could be simpler? On three different days they promised the phone would be hooked up immediately. But, alas, it never happened. The phone and the cable service never worked and the Internet connection took a week to get in place. Seriously…one week to connect the Internet into a house in which the previous owner had already had their service so the place was totally wired and ready. Amazing.

The second company promised that their wireless service would provide the highest quality connection based on our location. Wrong! While we were promised three bars of connectivity, we only ever achieved two bars. Callers sounded tinny and parts of sentences got dropped. The quality was so poor that both my callers and I were often asking the other person to repeat what they’d just said. The company said the solution “might” be an add-on that we could buy for $250. Note the quotes around “might.” They weren’t sure this would help, but they’d like our $250 to give it a whirl. No thanks.

Finally, we resorted to company number three, which offered a good old-fashioned landline and, voila, all is well.

Anyone who runs a small business can appreciate how anxious I was during the time it took to resolve what you’d think would be an easy issue in 2013. We all want to be easily accessible to our clients, and while e-mail and texting have replaced a lot of communication, good phone service is still essential. An important part of my work is conducting phone interviews that last from 30 minutes to an hour so a good quality connection is critical. Also, because I was moving so far away from existing clients, I particularly wanted them to be reassured early on that I was still just a simple phone call away at all times. But, of course, that’s not how it went.

This problem would have been significantly more complicated if I had employees and we were operating out of an office with multiple phone lines. Moving that type of operation requires finding a vendor with good small company solutions, including systems that can easily grow as your business grows. My best advice based on my experience is to do your homework in advance, including reading reviews related to customer service. If I had done that, I would have cut at least one week off my wait time for acquiring decent phone service to keep my business humming along.

If I’d followed that advice and done basic research in advance of the move, I would have learned that the first company we dealt with is synonymous with shoddy service. (Everyone here who I mentioned them to immediately rolled their eyes!) As to the second company’s technology solution, there was no way to anticipate that it wouldn’t work well at our location without first trying it. And I have to say they were very gracious about us taking back the equipment and voiding the two-year contract. So they remain in our good graces, while we will now be the ones rolling our eyes when the name of the first company comes up in conversations!

6 comments

  1. Marie says:

    Jeanne – Congratulations on your move! I recently moved my business from Western Massachusetts to northern New Hampshire and you're right about there being lots of challenges for those of us who rely so much on technology.

    We see to have things under control up here and hopefully things will run smoothly from now on for you in North Carolina.

    Marie

  2. markgauerbach says:

    You don't need to move or relocate to find crummy phone service. In my neighborhood, Verizon can only offer landline and cell, because the cable wires throughout the complex need to be upgraded. Comcast has the monopoly. Their service is awful.

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