Biz Talk with Lynn Ray of Business Telephones, Inc.

Effective communication is a vital tool for any business. Lynn Ray joins us to explain how her company, BTI, is able to deliver the best in communications solutions.

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Read the Full Interview Below

 

Sarah: Good morning, everyone! It’s 8:00 AM. We are Live. Welcome to BizTalk. As always, we have a fantastic guest today with a lot of very helpful information that’s going to help so many businesses, and we can’t wait to get started.

Glyna: Good morning! It’s a great day in the Fusion One Lounge today. I’m Glyna Humm, and let’s look around the square here. We have our other marketing guru, Sarah Gilliland, and Kelsi Nicholson. We are having such fun talking to business people that have so many great tips and info for all of us. We just can’t wait to share today’s guest and what she has to tell us. But before we get started, Sarah, could you go ahead and put up our broadcast schedule?

Sarah: I sure will. Okay, every single week we go live on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. And if you haven’t caught our podcasts, do yourself a favor and subscribe to Marketing and a Mic and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn. And one more reminder, you better be subscribing to our YouTube channel, Fusion One Marketing. We are always putting out fresh videos. It’s very important to have fresh information and we stay on top of it. So, check out our YouTube channel for sure.

Glyna: Fantastic. All right. We have a great guest today and she has so much information for all of us, especially in this virtual world that we live in right now. So I want to introduce Lynn Ray with Business Telephones, Inc. Good morning, Lynn.

Lynn Ray: Good morning. How are you today?

Glyna: We’re doing great. How about yourself?

Lynn Ray: Doing awesome, thank you.

Glyna: Good. Well, thank you for joining us this morning. We like to just go ahead and dive right in. So why don’t we start out with telling us a little bit about Business Telephones, Inc. and how you got started in all of this.

Lynn Ray: Okay. Basically, the company was begun in 1983. My husband was a fireman back then and he, like all firemen, worked 24 hours on, 48 hours off, any, and he actually began our company and we started out doing residential telephone cabling. We would install co-ax, TV. We would install intercom solutions and then from that, we moved into the commercial world. And right now we are all 100% commercial. And so what that means is we actually sit down with companies, we go over their communication needs, whether they’re in the office or out of the office, and then we put together a solution that will help them grow their business.

Glyna: Perfect. Well, something that everyone can use, it doesn’t matter what size of business you are. So I’m so excited that you’re with us here today and can’t wait to hear what you have to say. I also want to tell you that we have some early birds joining us this morning. We have at Elise Hearn, she said, good morning, everybody’s looking fabulous. We have Steve Johnson. He said, good morning, ladies, and hi, Lynn!

Lynn Ray: Hi Steve. It’s great to have you with us.

Sarah: So, you do offer a variety of services and options for all types of businesses. Is there a particular service, however, that you would categorize as your bread and butter?

Lynn Ray: Yes. My bread and butter is really sitting down with a company and talking to them about their in-house communications, whether that be bandwidth, their internet, their telephone needs. It’s anything that has to do with them, but because of our virtual world, it’s also helping them transition to work at home. So my joy is to sit down with a company and just talk with them and see what their options are and give them multiple solutions. I don’t like just to sit down with the company and just go, “Okay, here’s your only option.” As a good example, I met with a customer yesterday and I ended up giving her carrier options and we were able to give her six different carrier options for her to look at. And she may be able to save herself about $650-$700 a month in moving to a different carrier.

Kelsi: That’s huge, especially for a small business. That’s a ton of money every month. So, what would you say is the main benefit of working with you, with BTI? What’s the unique thing that your business offers?

Lynn Ray: The unique thing is I’m not one company going with one solution. In other words, I work through master agents and I can broker. And so right now, one of the masters I work through has 256 companies that I can sit down and look at for you and can come to you and say, “Here’s all your different options,” and therefore, for instance, if you go to AT&T, AT&T is only going to sell AT&T. Spectrum is only going to sell Spectrum. I don’t, and it doesn’t matter to me if you look at Spectrum or AT&T or any of the other literally hundreds of carriers that are available, because what I’m interested in is how can I best fit your company to your needs to help you grow and save money.

Glyna: Perfect, and that’s why you’ve been in business for so long and that you have the stellar reputation that you do. You truly care about the companies that you’re working with, and it definitely shows, and it’s really cool to have all those options for people. Now you have a ton of options and it would take them a long time to go through all of them, but can we talk about a few things that you do have for small businesses that maybe they hadn’t thought of before?

Lynn Ray: Basically, a lot of things that we can do for a small business … and I’m going to go back to the customer I met with yesterday. She’s a very small business. She only needs five phones, but one of the things, due to the pandemic, she needs the ability to work from home. You can actually now with certain solutions put an app on a cell phone, you can actually put the app on a computer, whether it be a laptop, and you can put a Bluetooth headset and then answer your computer or you could answer your cell phone. That app on that phone basically becomes your telephone that’s sitting on your desk. What I mean by that is I can intercom, I can transfer calls, I can call out and show the main number of my business. It does not show my personal cell phone at all. I can chat, I can text, I can basically do all kinds of things that I would normally do in my office. I can even video conference if I need to video conference. I can do a conference call with up to 40 people if I need to do that, all from my cell phone or all from my laptop computer. So I can take a very small company and give them a lot of things. For instance, if you are a small business but you need a call center, we can even set up call centers for people. We can set it up so that they can see every call that’s coming in, they can record all their calls, they can do analytics if they want to. So they know every call that has come in at any time over the last three days, the last six months. You can look at all of that data and you can see, “Hey, we need to staff more people during this time of the day,” or, “We’re actually staffing too many people during this time of the day. We need to actually drop our staffing down and save money,” and you can actually help your people be more productive. Not only are you saving money, you’re helping your people be more productive. We can set up chat to your website if you need to do chat or Facebook or social media. We can do all of those things with you and help you design a program that meets your needs, help your employees be more productive, but makes your company look as large or as small as you want it to look.

Kelsi: Amazing.

Sarah: Yeah. So speaking about making your small company look larger, are there options to where if I’m localized, I can still … if I’ve got people across the country or staff across the country, are there options that I can connect with my staff that’s located all over the United States?

Lynn Ray: Oh yeah. In the hosted world today, you can have your main phone number show up anywhere. A good example, I’ve got a company with a small call center, and they’ve actually got 15 different locations all over the state of Alabama. And you don’t have to do it just in the state of Alabama. You can do it all over the country, Canada, and Mexico, but basically for them, all of their calls from those different locations route into one location. But then when they call out, when they call the customer back, it shows the phone number that is local to the customer’s calling area. So you can set it up any way you want to, you can transfer calls back into those different locations, or I have an apartment complex that we’ve got set up all over the country, and basically, they each have their own individual phone numbers, but corporate can page them, intercom them. If a call comes into them, they can transfer it to corporate, corporate can transfer calls to them. It really doesn’t matter where you set up. You can design the system however you want to set it up. I’ll give another example. I had a customer that had a location here in Birmingham, two locations in Knoxville, and we actually set it up so that calls would route to Birmingham at certain times of the day, and at certain times of the day, it would route to one location in Knoxville, and at other times of the day, it would route to the other location in Knoxville. And then at night, it routed totally different. So you can design it however you want to design it and set it up to, again, meet your needs and allow your company and your people to be more productive.

Kelsi: Perfect. You always need the right tool for the job, and it sounds like you offer perfectly customized communication solutions.

Lynn Ray: I can! Yes.

Kelsi: Can you talk to us a little bit more about video conferencing and the options you offer in that regard?

Lynn Ray: Well, with video conferencing, you’ve got a lot of different options now. Amazon Chime is one of the big ones. And so I’ve got several hosted solutions that they partner with Amazon Chime, and they will provide you video conferencing up to 16 people. With that video conferencing, you can also have the ability … say I’m on a conference call and it’s a video call with you all and I needed to share documents. I could actually share my screen with you in a protected environment … and that’s the key, is protected … and then from that, you could log in through the login I provide you, you could see my documents, you could work on my documents, you could edit my documents. Again, everything’s protected, and say I needed to have you sign off on something; you could then sign off on that right then and there. I’ll give a good example. I’ve got a veterinarian, and with COVID, a lot of his people don’t want to come back in. So he might take an x-ray of an animal for a client, do a video call, get on that call, show the client the x-rays of the animal, ask them to please sign off that the animal needs surgery, would they be willing to allow the surgery? The client can then sign off on everything right then and there on that video call talking to the veterinarian so that everything’s done in a COVID-free environment, the animal is taken care of, the customer is taken care of, and everybody’s happy. So you can do a lot in video conferencing. It’s not just you and I sitting and talking one on one. You can share documents, you can collaborate. So there’s a lot. And you can also … Teams is a big deal right now, with Microsoft Teams. A lot of companies are looking at Teams. Your hosting companies are all working with Teams. They’re all designed to go in and work with Teams in any shape, form, or fashion because Teams does a great job on the video conferencing side right now, but they don’t do a good job on the voice side. So, your hosting companies are actually doing the voice part and then partnering with Teams to do the video conferencing part.

Glyna: Wow, so awesome, and thank goodness we have you to go to, because I mean the normal business center has no clue about any of these cool offerings that you have.

Lynn Ray: No, and something else a lot of the business owners don’t realize is you can do a lot of backup solutions now. A lot of people hear the word co-ax or fiber and think they’re locked into that, but if those go down, you can actually bring another solution in that would allow them to have a backup that’s very inexpensive. It’s not real expensive. It can be a cellular backup, it can be a satellite backup, it can be just a small amount of bandwidth sitting there. And then you can do what’s called SD-WAN, which is Synchronous Distribution of a Wide Area Network. A big acronym, but it really means nothing except that if your bandwidth goes down, it automatically switches to the backup bandwidth, if your bandwidth comes back, it automatically switches to your main bandwidth, and it conditions the bandwidth the entire time. That’s the really big deal about SD-WAN, is that it conditions your bandwidth so that you always have really solid bandwidth. So you have those things too that you can do. I mean there’s a lot of really good things that are in the industry now that a lot of companies don’t know about, and they’re not super expensive to put in place.

Glyna: That is so cool. And another important thing that people don’t realize, you can have all these neat things, but you also have to make sure you have enough bandwidth and all of that. And having a consultant, like yourself, who’s been in this industry for years and knows all of these bells and whistles and knows how to put these solutions together, it’s just so important to make sure that you’re able to support all these cool things that we’re talking about. So talking about bandwidth, what is the minimum connection requirements to be able to do all this cool stuff?

Lynn Ray: It really depends on what you’re wanting to do, obviously. So basically, if you’re going with a hosted phone system, you’ve got to have 50 kilobits per phone call. So you have to look at all that, you have to look at are you going to use Wi-Fi? You have to look at how many computers you’re going to have. Are you going to be streaming video? So you have to look at all of these things. When you do this. I’ll go ahead and tell you, the DSL is not something that will work. It just has not got enough bandwidth in it. Most of the time, you’re going to look at a co-ax connection, a minimum of 200 by 10 if you go co-ax. If you go fiber … a lot of times, people used to do a 10 by 10 fiber, but we’re saying fiber prices come down. And a good example is the person I met with yesterday who has a 10 by 10 fiber. I can save them money and give them a 20 by 20 fiber and still save them a little over $600 a month to do that. So, basically, we’re going to double their bandwidth. They are looking at a hosted phone solution. So, this will give them more bandwidth. She’s so excited because it will actually allow her employees to stream some things now that they haven’t been able to do before. So yeah, bandwidth is going to be key. The other thing that’s coming out that’s really huge right now, everybody’s listening to it, everybody’s hearing about it is 5G. And one of the reasons 5G is out is bandwidth. What most people don’t realize is 6G is waiting in the wings. You’ve got 5G coming out, everything’s going 5G, 5G, but 6G is also going to be out in several years as well. What’s driving all of that is the need for bandwidth. As you see more and more things come online, you will see more and more bandwidth being utilized.

Glyna: Yeah, COVID has turned the world upside down. Especially your world.

Lynn Ray: Yeah.

Sarah: That’s for sure. Yeah, and when you shift all of these options from in-person to virtual, yeah, you’ve got to have the bandwidth, especially for those video conferencing and live streams. So, you’re not the one freezing the whole time.

Lynn Ray: Right, right. Yeah. But on the hosting solution part, what most people don’t realize is that if you don’t have enough bandwidth, you’re going to have one-way audio, you’re going to have dropped calls, you’re going to sound like you’re in a barrel. And all of this has a lot to do with the amount of bandwidth that you’re using overall. And people don’t realize that. The other thing that comes in play here is cabling. A lot of times people thought, “Oh, I’ve got this high-speed circuit in here,” but you go back and you say, “Well my cable is CAT-5, not CAT-5E, not CAT-6, it’s CAT-5”. Well, CAT-5 was never designed to handle huge amounts of bandwidth. And then you go, “Oh, I’ve got a computer that’s 10 years old.” Well guess what? You’re not going to get the … you can have the bandwidth that you pay for, but you’re not going to get it to the end points that it needs to go to if you don’t have the right cabling in place if you don’t have the right infrastructure in place. A lot of companies don’t understand that. It’s not just buying a bunch of bandwidth, it’s also looking at what else you have in your building to make sure it’s going to work right.

Kelsi: And BTI offers those cabling services as well, correct?

Lynn Ray: Yes. Yeah, we cable CAT-5E, CAT-6, fiber, anything like that. We can provide all the cabling for it.

Kelsi: Great.

Lynn Ray: Access points, we’ll cable for access points, we’ll work with people on anything like that.

Kelsi: Good deal.

Sarah: We talked a lot about kind of some things that are presenting themselves more and more now and coming up in the future, and one item that’s so exciting to me is IoT. So what is that exactly? Because I was reading about it and I thought, “Wow, this is truly fascinating.” So, tell us a little bit about how that piece of technology works.

Lynn Ray: IoT is the “Internet of Things”. It’s already here, but you’re going to see it coming more and more and more. And the internet of things is just sensors. They’re putting sensors in the soil now so that they know how much fertilizer, how much rain, they know do they need to water more? Have they watered too much? What types of fertilizer is needed versus just fertilizing with everything? So, you’re going to see that more. That’s already being done in agriculture. The other thing that’s already being done in agriculture is sensors around the neck for cows, and it tells them if the cow is sick, it tells them if the cow is pregnant, it tells them how much the cow eats, how much milk the cow gives. It tells them if the cow has come in the heat so it needs to be bred. It literally tells them everything about that animal as long as that sensor is operating. It allows them to know much feed to provide that animal. If the animal needs more feed, less feed. It allows them to save money in doing that. Also, it lets them know the animal is sick to get a vet to them immediately so that the animal doesn’t die and they lose that money. Basically, it’s a savings and a win-win for the farmer. But the other thing that you’re going to see in the IoT and we’re already seeing it now is you’re going to see the smart homes become smarter and smarter and smarter. You can already turn your lights on, you can already change your heat and turn it up or turn it down. You can already do those things. You can already see a sensor on the refrigerator. Well, it’s not going to be long before they’ve got sensors on your dryers and your washing machines. And if you put the load in, you can tell it to turn it on later in the day, you can turn your dryer on. I mean everything is going to be a very high-tech, smart home. Another example of IoT that’s already working is there was a bakery, and basically once a month, they were losing a tremendous amount of stock and they couldn’t understand why. It was costing them about $10,000 a month in stock-loss and they couldn’t understand why. Well they went in and put a sensor on the freezer and what they found was when the gentlemen came into stock the freezer, he would prop open the door for a little over an hour while he restocked that freezer and everything that was on the bottom shelves was then ruined because it would unfreeze. They were losing literally thousands of dollars in that. And so just by that one sensor and realizing what was occurring, they were able to save that money, number one, they were able to take everything that was on the bottom shelf and move it to a top shelf and put on the bottom shelves things that would not spoil, and they were also able to tell the guy that was stocking he couldn’t leave the door open for an hour. But yeah, I mean that was through a sensor. So, you now are going to see smart buildings where everything is computer-generated, it’s all changed by computers, and it’s not just your lighting and your heating and air conditioning, but if you can think of doors, if you think of anything, everything can be used sensors through IoT, which is the Internet of Things. And that’s the reason for 5G. That is what’s driving 5G because you’ve got to have the ability to have Wi-Fi-bandwidth. And just like the city of Hoover is designing a Wi-Fi-network throughout the entire city, that’s to connect IoT, because if you’ve got the bandwidth, now you can do the IoT because you can do it on Wi-Fi. So, you’re going to see IoT get and bigger and bigger as things continue in our industry.

Kelsi: That’s wild. I was reading the other day about it. I learned that there are more devices connected to IoT than there are human beings on planet earth, already.

Lynn Ray: Yeah, and it’s just going to grow and get larger and larger and larger. I mean it’s huge, and they’re doing it in the biotechnology world too. I mean if it’s a sensor, you can put it anywhere and it then knows what’s going on. Right now you can already make a car park itself. What’s coming through is you’re going to have your phone and you’re going to have a sensor, and not only will you tell your car to park itself, then when you come out of wherever you are, you’re going to call the car to you from your phone and it’s going to come to you and drive itself to you. That’s again IoT. That’s where our technology is rapidly headed. And it’s really interesting to see it.

Glyna: It really is. All right. We also have some other people joining us this morning, Lynn. We have Michelle Blanton. She says good morning.

Lynn Ray: Good morning, Michelle.

Glyna: Harry Slagle. I don’t know if you’ve met Harry, he’s in our BNI group with Mr. Bugs.

Lynn Ray: Okay. I know Mitch.

Glyna: Yeah, you know Mitch. And I think you probably know this lady, Cindy Edmunds is on here.

Lynn Ray: Hi Cindy.

Glyna: She’s like, “Oh hey, Lynn Ray!” All right. So, if somebody … we’re going to be putting your contact information … oh, and we just had a person, Peyton Thomas.

Lynn Ray: Yeah, hey Peyton.

Glyna: Hey Lynn. Anyway, we’re going to be putting your info up here in just a minute, but if somebody really is interested in all this technology, how should they get started with you?

Lynn Ray: I’ll be happy just to sit down and have a conversation. That’s really what I enjoy doing. And if, because of COVID, would rather it be a Zoom call or a video conference call, I can do that. If you’d rather it be a phone call, I can be that. But yeah, just a conversation. Just where are you now? What are you looking for? What are you wanting to do? How are you wanting to move your company forward? Are you looking to save money? Are you looking to increase the productivity of your employees? It’s a personal conversation, that’s all that’s needed.

Glyna: And is there a charge for that just initial conversation?

Lynn Ray: No, no. I don’t charge at all for that. I enjoy sitting down with companies … and I will be really truthful, there’s sometimes I can’t help a company. There are times that that company is doing an awesome job, they have the least expensive internet that they can go with and it’s the best for their business at that time, and everything they’re doing is perfect. And so if that’s true, then I’m going to tell you, “Hey, I can’t help you,” and so again, it’s just a conversation. I enjoy helping companies. I really enjoy seeing companies grow and I enjoy seeing companies help their employees grow. So yes, just a conversation and there’s no charge for that.

Glyna: Wow, fantastic.

Sarah: That is great. Okay, let me get your contact information here so I can make sure we’ve got it. Here we go. It’s going to come across the bottom here. So we have been talking today with Lynn Ray and I want to give you the … I’ve got to remember to look over here. I’m looking at the bottom and it’s making me dizzy. I apologize. I apologize. Lynn Ray, Business Telephones, Inc. And you can reach her directly at (205) 988-8297 or connect on the website at bticonnect.com or email her directly at Lynn@bticonnect.com. Well, this was great. So before we move into our fun game that you do not need to be nervous about, is there anything else that you want to touch on that we didn’t cover?

Lynn Ray: Basically, we work with companies, whether you have one telephone set or if you have 500, it doesn’t matter. We can work with you. I’ve got one customer and basically she didn’t want a phone. So we’ve got an app on her cell phone and we gave her a phone number and everybody calls and what they think they’re calling her business phone, which they are, but in actuality, they’re calling her cell phone. And so whenever she calls out, she just gets on the app and makes a call out and it shows that line number. So you don’t have to have a phone on your desk. And by the way, for the young generation, that’s exciting because it’s going away. For the older generation, they’re panicking going, “Oh no, I’ve got to have a phone on my desk,” but we can do it either way. We can fix you, whether you have a phone or whether you just want an app, it doesn’t matter to us. So yeah, it does it with one to 500 or anything in that range.

Sarah: Perfect.

Glyna: Perfect. All right. Well, it is time for the hot seat, Lynn.

Kelsi: All righty.

Glyna: All right, so Kelsi’s going to bring up the old magic wheel here and spin it to see what fun game you get to play. The suspense is killing us. It’s fill in the blank. All right. This is very easy, Lynn. You’ve got this. And it’s only 60 seconds. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to read part of a sentence and then you fill in the blank of how you would answer it.

Lynn Ray: Oh, this is good.

Glyna: You’re like, “Oh, I’m so excited.” All right, so Kelsi’s going to set her phone for 60 seconds. Alrighty. Ready to go?

Lynn Ray: Sure.

Glyna: Okay. Here we go. My worst habit is …

Lynn Ray: Oh gosh. My worst habit is constantly writing down everything. I mean I write down everything.

Glyna: I hate it when I have to …

Lynn Ray: Be on the spot very quickly.

Glyna: Kind of like right now. Blank makes me happy.

Lynn Ray: Life makes me happy.

Glyna: I can’t live without …

Lynn Ray: My unsweet tea.

Glyna: Okay. I love that. I deserve a gold medal in …

Lynn Ray: Patience.

Glyna: We’re in business. We all do. All right. Nothing annoys me more than blank.

Lynn Ray: People not doing their job.

Glyna: I like that. That was it. That was 60 seconds. You did perfectly. See, you were worried for no reason. And I’ll tell you what Lynn, this has been so fun, and again, I think I’ve told you it’s going to go fast. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 30 minutes, but we really, really appreciate you coming on with us today.

Lynn Ray: Well, I appreciate you asking me. It’s been fun. I enjoyed it.

Glyna: Well, thank you so much, and thank you all for joining us. We had such a great time, and as always, don’t forget to tune in next Tuesday. Well no, we’re taking a break next Tuesday. I guess it’d be two weeks for our Marketing Mix. And then we will be back next Friday at eight o’clock for our next BizTalk session. So everybody have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you next week.

Lynn Ray: Thank you all. Bye.

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