Saturday, May 19, 2012

Working Smarter: Throw Away Your Fax Machine


Are you still using one of those old fashioned fax machines? You know, the type that occupies valuable space, that needs paper, ink refills, and occasional expensive maintenance. If so, you are missing out on a great opportunity to save money and improve performance.
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Many organisations have been using online methods of faxing for years. Online faxing is valuable if you use digital filing technologies. In my small business, I use both.

Larger organisations use computer and photocopier-based systems for sending faxes, but many of those still receive faxes in hardcopy through their photocopier. To some extent, this is because the one fax number is located in a work team with numbers of people, so there isn't just one computer to which it could be routed.

An excellent alternative to the ubiquitous fax machine is to set up a fax account with a firm like Utbox.net (Australian). Their system allows clients to send and receive faxes and SMS messages. When I have a fax marketing campaign and send faxes to hundreds of prospective clients, I log in to my Utbox account and set up a broadcast fax. Within minutes the message is queued to be sent. After the broadcast is finished, I receive an email summary advising me of the cost and success or otherwise of each fax sent. If you think that's good, it gets better.

Incoming faxes are routed to my email account. I read them and treat them like any other email ie, I can forward, delete, print, or action them and save a copy electronically in my digital filing system. It's even more convenient that the faxes are in PDF format, the standard I use within my business.

When I wish to send a fax, I type an email and address it to faxnumber@fax.utbox.net and press the send button. The rest is done by Utbox's automated system. Any attachments are also sent with the fax. I can choose to send the email message, perhaps as a fax cover sheet, or to only send the attachments.

Utbox is very cost effective and very efficient and runs a pre-paid system the same as those used by other telecommunications companies. Any credit not used at the end of a month is forfeited. This charging arrangement wouldn't be suitable for large, high volume organisations, but I expect Utbox staff would negotiate a deal if necessary.

I recommend Utbox.net (no, I don't get a commission) as a good starting point for Australian businesses. If you are overseas, perhaps do a search and find a provider in your own country.

This might be an opportune time to throw away your fax machine and introduce a more cost-effective solution. Let me know how you go.

Robin

4 comments:

  1. Yep, online everything is the way to go ... inexpensive, but I have trouble finiding stuff I file online. Maybe I need a better folder setup eh?

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  2. Thanks for posting Mike. A sound filing system is essential and not difficult to set up.

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  3. Thanks for the post Robin. This is definitely a good understanding of the service.

    Believe it or not as old as the underlying technology might currently be, we're actively working on identifying ways of putting new spins on it and making people's work flows more efficient (at least in the relatively small part that may be fax or sms related).

    We're keen on keeping an eye on blogs like yours to see what the general pulse of suggestions are. We can't promise to add all of them but knowledge is the first step.

    Thanks again for your mention- happy to see it's useful for you and useful for your readers. We ourselves run our business as light as possible by hosting as much as we can externally with trusted and responsive companies. Some of the things we host:
    - staff email
    - email marketing/mass notifications
    - phones
    - support software
    - crm software
    - development software
    - accounting/ledger software
    - employee payroll software

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  4. UTBOX provides an excellent service Tom. I hope some of those who read this blog will look up your site and perhaps line up an account.

    Best wishes.

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