SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jun 3, 2009 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX News Network) -- With the number of new businesses springing up in today's recessionary environment, it's no wonder that companies like 8x8, Inc. (Nasdaq:EGHT), provider of money-saving VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone services to the small business market, are experiencing the highest demand in its history for the vital telecommunications services it provides to over 16,000 companies.
In its recent fourth quarter fiscal 2009 earnings announcement, 8x8 reported the addition of a record number of new business subscribers, approximately 15% more than the previous quarter, to its Virtual Office hosted VoIP phone service, an Internet-based telephony solution that saves companies an average of 50% or more on monthly phone charges. What's driving this accelerated adoption rate? Some of the demand is coming from a crop of new business start-ups whose entrepreneurial founders had perhaps suddenly found themselves unemployed and ready to take destiny into their own hands. Other existing small businesses are aggressively seeking ways to cut operating costs without sacrificing capabilities. In either case, cost and timing are of utmost importance.
"With 8x8's Virtual Office business phone service, a company can self install a full featured, business class phone system within minutes for a fraction of the cost of traditional, landline alternatives," said 8x8 CEO Bryan Martin. "And, if you can't wait for an overnight shipment of our Internet Protocol phones, you can simply visit your local Office Depot store and purchase one or more of them right off the shelf."
Entrepreneur and investor Jase Garner, owner of the recently opened Just4Him Men's Haircut Lounge(tm) franchise in Missouri City, Texas, chose 8x8's Virtual Office service because it was both "necessary and affordable." And, he says, "It's taking his business to a whole new level."
"I could never have afforded all these bells and whistles if you told me five years ago this was what I had to have," says Jase. Those "bells" and "whistles" include receptionist features that can greet clients when they call and take them to the stylist of their choice with a single push of a button. Until now, a small business like his would get little more out of their phone service than a number and a listing in the local telephone directory.
How did this Louisiana native come to cross paths with big business technology? Jase, a crop duster by trade, began seeing a decline in his market when the farmers he serviced weren't able to grow crops due to financial setbacks and increasing water shortages in the area. "Between the mess of Hurricane Katrina and a drought that went on way too long," says Jase "the need for crop dusting started to fall, and so did my business. I could let life happen to me, or I could figure out something else."
His Texas Just4Him Men's Haircut Lounge franchise, one of forty locations established over the past few years, was an idea created by friends in Louisiana who wanted to supply Katrina aid workers with a place to get a haircut and get comfortable without an appointment. "It isn't your typical salon," says Jase. On any given day, you'll find the "receptionist" is actually a "hostess" serving drinks to waiting customers who are enjoying the ambiance of a salon that has been compared to a modern-day "man-cave" with a high-end bar, low lighting, and flat-screen televisions as far as the eye can see.
8x8's Virtual Office phone service allows Jase to route incoming calls around his busy "hostess" to each stylist's cell phone, an advantage that pays off for both the business and the stylist. "Our clients are looking for personalized service, and, let's be honest, a little bit of pampering," says Jase. "They want a place to relax and unwind. With 8x8 Virtual Office, this means that the stylists can give their full attention to their clients without having to turn away and take a call. It also means they don't miss calls from clients that want to come back to a specific stylist if that stylist is on break or off work for the day."
Internet telephony technology, otherwise known as VoIP, allows start ups like the Just4Him Men's Haircut Lounge to deploy a full-featured business class phone system without running in the red. How? 8x8's VoIP phone service uses the existing broadband Internet connection businesses already have to deliver digital quality dial tone plus business class features remotely, on a hosted basis, without the need for expensive, on- premise PBX equipment. The combination of this doubling of resources, savings on upfront equipment charges, cost efficiencies of VoIP calls and the ability for business owners to configure their phones themselves without paying a hefty maintenance fee to have someone come in and do it for them is what prudent businesses today find very compelling.
And, at a time when recession-born businesses are booming, there is something else companies like 8x8 are doing to make it even easier for business owners like Jase to get out of the gate sooner and more successfully: ensuring that these services can all be accessed easily and affordably. Today, industry-leading software can be bought off the shelf to manage everything from inventory to accounting and 8x8's VoIP Business Phone System is no exception. Now, along with pens, schedulers and personalized stationery, business owners can purchase the 8x8 Internet Protocol business phone at their local Office Depot store for an MSRP of $199.99 and call 8x8 to sign up for one of the provider's low-cost monthly service plans. They'll receive a robust and affordable solution consisting of unlimited local and long distance calling plus features like auto attendants, music on hold, conference bridges and more.
"You can basically walk into an Office Depot store with a business idea and walk out with a way to make it happen with all the pieces in place," says 8x8's Martin. "Normally, businesses would pay two to three times more and wait weeks for installation of traditional telephone services with fewer features, but with VoIP they are paying very low monthly fees and enjoying far more benefits and capabilities."
"It's not your grandpa's barbershop" barks the Just4Him Men's Haircut Lounge slogan. And, to Jase's advantage as a crop-duster turned new business owner, it's not your grandpa's phone service either.