When you set up a new business phone system, you can keep your current business number by transferring (porting) it to the new provider. Or you may want to purchase a line of service with a brand new phone number. Both options have distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider in making the right choice for your business.
Let’s start with the pros and cons of keeping your phone number.
Port Existing Phone Numbers
Pro: Maintain Brand Consistency
If you have a distinctive number, like 212-NYP-IZZA, it’s easy to remember and becomes part of your brand identity. Keeping your number prevents confusion among your loyal customers, especially those who have you on speed-dial.
You wouldn’t want your customers to think you're a different business, or somehow unaffiliated with your brand, even if you update your business caller ID name. By porting your current number over to your new phone system, you're ensuring that your customers won't mistake your business for a copycat company or someone else.
Pro: Prevent Competitors from Tricking Your Customers
Do you know what happens if you give up your current phone number? It goes back into a pool of phone numbers available to the public. From there, anybody, including a competitor, can purchase the number. Those who call the old number and reach your competitor might assume you've either gone out of business or merged with another company. In any case, your competitor will have the ear of a lead that's supposed to be yours.
Con: Wonder When Your Number Will Port
The wait time to port over your existing phone number can take up to several weeks. If your number transfer is delayed or held up, you'll end up paying your previous phone service provider until the transfer is finalized. Even though many providers offer temporary phone numbers and call forwarding from your old number to ease the transition, you should never cancel your old service until the porting process is over. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your old number returned to the public pool of numbers.
Now let’s explore the pros and cons of changing your phone number.
Buy a Phone Number
Pro: Select Vanity and Toll-Free Numbers
If you didn’t already have a vanity or toll-free number, now’s your chance to customize your digits for the convenience of your customers. You can purchase a vanity, toll, or toll-free number to increase your business's visibility and accessibility.
A vanity number, like 324-BUY-HATS, uses the letters associated with each number on a DTMF keypad to spell out a name or phrase. A toll-free number, which uses an area code of 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 or 833, allows customers to call you without incurring any charges.
Pro: Set Up Quickly
Purchasing a phone number from your new provider will allow you to set up your phone system more quickly—in some cases, less than a few hours. You can select and assign most inbound phone numbers directly from your phone system's web admin portal. That means your team can start making and receiving calls right away.
Pro: Save Money
Pricing varies widely depending on your phone service provider. In general, it costs less to buy a phone number than it does to transfer your current number.
For example, OnSIP charges a one-time fee of $7 for each phone number with a local area code that you purchase and $15 to port a number. The service fee for both a purchased or ported line is $2 per month for each number.
Con: Must Update Business Materials and Alert Contacts
A new number means more work. You have to change your marketing materials, website copy, company signage, stationery, billboard displays and anything else that includes your business phone number. And inform all your business partners and customers that you have a new number. These necessary tasks take time and money. You and your employees have better things to do.
Con: Might Have Difficulty Getting Popular Local Area Codes
Businesses in highly competitive markets such as New York City are often competing for phone numbers. There are only so many phone numbers available, and in heavily populated areas the demand for numbers far outweighs the supply. That's why finding a new number for a very popular area code might be tough. In this case, porting an existing number may be preferable to purchasing a new one with a different area code.
Businesses in remote areas might also have trouble finding new phone numbers with a specific area code. The phone number pool in these area codes can suffer due to low coverage. If you are coming from a rural wireline service provider that’s exempt from porting requirements, you may be unable to transfer your old number and have to buy a new number with a different area code.
Inbound Phone Numbers: Pros and Cons of Changing Your Phone Number
Whether you choose to port your phone number or purchase a new one depends on the circumstances of your business. If you're an established company with brand recognition, high visibility, substantial inbound calls, and a large customer base, then porting your existing phone numbers will keep disruptions to your daily operations at a minimum.
However, if your business is looking for an image makeover, a more targeted calling operation, increased visibility, or a phone number that makes a better impression on prospects, you might want to consider purchasing a new inbound number with your new phone system. A vanity toll-free number could make a difference in the way customers communicate with you and purchase your product.