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How to start your very own Calling Cards Business

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Have you always wanted to start your own calling cards business, but didn’t even know where start?

Here I will guide you step by step into the process of starting your business, so you can turn that into reality!

Before we discuss how to start you own calling cards business, it is important to understand how calling cards actually work.

HOW IT WORKS:

Selling VoIP calling cards basically means buying software (class 5 softswitch server with calling cards software, also called a calling cards platform) and wholesale minutes to all destinations and then selling them to your clients. When someone buys a calling card from you at their grocery store, they will use your minutes to make their calls and your server will bill them accordingly.

Because this system works with VoIP, you will be able to offer your clients calls at a fraction of the price of regular calls but still offer them great quality calling. (For more information on how VoIP works, take a look at the following article – how VoIP works.

All different types of people use calling cards, whether they are people that want to call family and friends abroad, tourists that want to call their home country or small businesses that have international clients – VoIP calling cards have benefits for everyone!

ADVANTAGES OF OFFERING CALLING CARDS AS A SERVICE OVER OTHER VOIP SERVICES

There are so many different VoIP apps today that let you make VoIP calls directly from your mobile phone – without the need of a middle-man, you may be wondering why calling cards still have a place in the market today?

First of all, many calling card providers allow you to use their calling cards from both landlines and mobiles. VoIP apps generally only work from mobiles. Calling cards are very easy to use and generally work without problems. When it comes to the VoIP apps, they are not always as reliable. When the user has internet that is not strong enough for example, the calls will be disturbed or not work at all.

There is a big market for selling calling cards as people are always looking for cheaper ways to call abroad. If done properly, this can turn into a very lucrative business.

If you are still wondering if calling cards is actually for you, then check out different types of VoIP services that you can offer, this will help you understand what is needed for every type of service and will help you decide what is best for you.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF CALLING CARDS

There are two types of calling cards:

PIN calling cards
Just as the name says it, users will need to enter their pin in order to make a call (usually found on the back of the card)

PINless calling cards
These calling cards will recognize the user and they will not have to put a pin before using the card

Once signed in, the system will ask the user to enter their access number, in the case of PIN calling cards – the user will need to enter their pin as well. The system will then tell the user the amount of credit he still has in his account. Now the user can enter the phone number he wishes to call – it’s that simple!

You can offer your clients either only PIN calling cards, only PINless calling cards or a combination of both.

WHAT YOU NEED IN ORDER TO START:

In order to start a successful calling cards business there are several components you will need

Hardware

  • Class 5 softswitch

This is the main part of your business. You can get a softswitch from a company providing VoIP services for resellers. Make sure you get your server from a reliable company – if your softswitch doesn’t work the whole business will be down. if you are just starting out, one server should be enough, when your business grows, consider adding servers to ensure stability. Having several servers also means that if one server is down for whatever reason, the other one can be used and your business won’t suffer. If possible, try to get different servers from different companies to work together.

If you want to start your business with only minimal investment, you can host or rent a softswitch – this means that you pay monthly instead of paying everything upfront.

Research different class 5 softswitches from different companies and see what they have to offer. When looking into them, make sure you know what the company does when the server is down – do they have 24-hour support in case something goes wrong?

Also check out if they offer training and use it if it is offered.

  • Stable internet connection

This is also a very important part of the business, if there is no internet connection – there won’t be any business.

It is advised to put your server in a co-location, as the internet is much less likely to go down in such places than in your home or office.

Also consider having a second internet connection as a backup in case the regular one goes down, or maybe your internet provider has a backup himself in case something goes wrong.

You can also consider having a generator to make sure your business keeps going in case of a power-cut. This obviously depends on the location you are working from, in some places it is needed more than in others.

  • PC

You will need a PC to manage the calling cards platform via web-interface

  • Printer

This is optional, you can use a printer to print your calling cards or you can have them made by a printing shop.

Software

  • Calling cards platform

The calling cards software or platform can be either part of or an addition to the class 5 softswitch. The calling cards software will ensure the smooth running of your business.

When researching different companies to get your platform from ask what type of calling cards it supports; PIN calling cards, PINless calling cards, or both. Ideally it should work with both.

  • Integrated billing

The VoIP billing software will collect the data from the call your client made, and charge for it. Integrated billing can come as part of your class 5 softswitch package.

The billing system should be easy to use and be 100 percent reliable, a reliable billing system means a reliable income.

Check out what features are important to you and make sure they are provided in your package; card PIN generation services, expiry dates, usage fee, prepaid/postpaid/flat fee accounting…

  • Callback, PIN codes generation system, IVR system

These are extras and make your services better.

International routes

Once you have all the hardware and software needed to start a successful calling cards business, you have to start thinking about the routes. This means you need to buy airtime in other words minutes that will allow your clients to call abroad.

Most wholesale route providers specialize in a certain area or continent, this means that they will have cheap rates to that place but they will charge more for other areas.
Get different providers for different areas, check out who has the best offers for each destination. It is a good idea to have more than one provider for each destination – that way if one route goes down, your clients can still make calls using the route from another provider.
There are also a-z providers, this means they offer routes to all destinations, this is convenient but they are also typically more expensive.

Choose international route providers wisely – you want your clients to be happy with their calls.

Choose providers based on:

  • Price

Obviously price is important as you want to make money. Some providers charge a monthly fee in addition to the rate per minutes so add that up when comparing different costs.

Take note of how you will be billed i.e. per second, per 30 seconds, per minute… if you are charged per minute and you will have many short calls then you will be wasting a lot of money.

  • Quality

Quality is just as important as price. If the call quality is bad, the clients won’t come back. Make a call yourself using that route and check if it is good, there should be no delay, jitters, echo…

Also note the post-dial delay, this means the amount of time it takes from when the user dials till it rings by his recipient, the less time the better.

If the price for a route looks too good to be true, it probably is so choose wisely!

  • Reliability

If the route goes down, your clients will not be able to make calls. Find out how often it goes down and what the provider does about it.

  • Capacity

how much traffic can the route handle to that destination? If for example you think you will have 100 people calling India at the same time – make sure the route to India can handle that.

A FEW MORE STEPS BEFORE YOU CAN ACTUALLY START SELLING YOU CALLING CARDS…

Print calling cards

Before you can sell the calling cards, they need to be printed. Two points are important when designing you calling cards:

  • Quality

You want people to be able to use your calling cards for as long as their account has credit on it. This means that it shouldn’t break after a few uses. Also, the place where the pin is, needs to be durable – it shouldn’t come off before the calling card is sold but it should still come off easily when scratched.

  • Appearance

If you want people to pick your card from the shelf, it has to look attractive.

Once you have decided on a design, you can either print them yourself or have them printed by a printing company. Keep in mind that most printing shops will require you buy a minimum amount to start off with and the more you buy the cheaper they will be per piece. Have a list of all your pin and access codes ready as the printing shop will need this to put on the cards.

Decide on your prices

This is a big step… in the end of the day you want to make money on your calling cards. Add up all your expenses (this is not only the wholesale minutes that you bought, but also all software needed etc…) and then you will see how much you need to sell for in order to make money. Have separate prices for each destination and think about it carefully.

How to charge for your calling cards

Many people mistakenly believe that you make money only by charging for the minutes that clients use. This is not true – there are other ways of charging that can add up to your profit…

  • Activation fee: when a card is used for the first time

  • Connection fee: charged at the beginning of the call

  • Maintenance fee: charged for every day/month/year that the account is open

You can also choose how you bill your clients whether it is per second, per 30 seconds, per minute…

Remember that if you put $10 on a calling card, you will not get $10 if you sell it through a retailer, as they will need to make a profit too. They will probably pay you about $7. When you sell a calling card, you can ask the user to top up his account through you own top up system when his credit is depleted. This means that if he tops up for $10, you will get the full $10 and there is no middle man. You will have to invest in software in order to do so but it may be worth it.

Another thing people do to make more money, is to specialize in a certain area or continent so they advertise their calling cards for that place. They make a normal profit on cards to that area. If a user wants to use that calling card to call a place outside of the area you specialize in, then they charge much higher rates which means they make a higher profit.

CHOOSING WHERE TO SELL THE CARDS

There are several places you can sell your calling cards, these include:

  • internet cafes

  • retail stores

  • distributor

  • grocer shops

  • hotels

Think about places foreigners shop for products related to their home countries, these people are probably interested in calling cards as you know they have some connection to a place abroad.

In order to get your cards to sell in the beginning you can consider offering a tiny percentage of your profit on the card to the person selling it, this will also drive him to try and sell yours over other brands.

When it comes to calling cards sold in shops you usually get paid when the card is sold and not upfront.

Another option is to offer calling cards through the internet. The way it works is that you just send users their pins and access numbers and there is no actual card. When selling calling cards through the internet, you save on the printing and distribution but you need software to take online payments.

PROMOTING AND ADVERTISING

Tell friends and family about the business you are starting and they will spread the word. Slowly but surely you will get more and more customers…

If you have a larger budget, you can consider advertising a little to bring awareness about your calling cards.

AND NOW, ALL THERE IS LEFT TO DO IS TO ACTUALLY GET STARTED AND MAKE MONEY…

At VoipSwitch, we offer you a calling cards platform that enables you to sell physical calling cards with PIN, online managed PINless calling cards or a combination of both. We will provide you will all the software needed to set up a successful calling cards business. Contact us today at www.voipswitch.com for an affordable quote!

Voipswitch is launching RCS Dialer for Windows Phone

Voipswitch is launching RCS Dialer for Windows Phone

Rich Communication Suite Dialer for Windows Phone

Main features:

  • Crystal clear voice quality

  • User to user calling with ICE (peer to peer)

  • Instant messaging

  • Multimedia attachment

  • Presence

  • Active address book (Viber like)

  • Sign up with phone number


check it at Microsoft Store

How to start a VOIP Business

One of the markets that’s growing really fast these days is the VoIP market. Many companies and homes want to save money on their phone bills and this is an easy way to do it. With such a big demand for VoIP services, there is a big potential for people willing to start a VoIP company. If done properly it can become a very lucrative business.

Here is a guide on how to start a VoIP business and be successful

So first, you need to decide what part of the VoIP market you want to go into.

There are many different options including:

  • VoIP Call Center Solutions: a VoIP call center is a call center hosted by a VoIP provider and not a physical location. By offering VoIP call center solutions, you will help companies set up call centers so that they can handle calls correctly, minimize wait time for callers, and improve company efficiency all while keeping costs low.

  • VoIP Wholesale provider (wholesale termination): sell VoIP minutes to people so they can make VoIP calls

  • Prepaid calling cards: you can either provide pin calling cards or pinless calling cards. With pin calling cards, you provide an access code with your calling cards so that people can make national and international VoIP calls from their landline and mobile phones without the need of a computer. The customer will need to put in their unique pin, found on the back of the calling card before they can start talking. These calling cards can then be bought by the customers in news agents, local retailers, grocery shops or online.>br/>
    With pinless calling cards, the customer will need to put in their access code but either the system will recognize the phone number they are calling from or they have a unique access code so a pin is not needed.

  • Residential VoIP: by offering residential VoIP services you will help people set up VoIP in their homes which they can use for international calling instead of regular landlines.

  • Mobile VoIP: The Mobile Dialer is a software used on mobile phones. They are used to make VoIP calls from a mobile. The Mobile Dialer uses SIP signalling and can be connected to a Voipswitch or an IP device to work as a device for Voice, Video and SMS.
    Making calls from a mobile phone is easy and customers can switch from their regular phone plan to VoIP for international calla as it is more affordable.

    Because mobile dialers are used on mobile phones they can be used anywhere and thereby remove the traditional VoIP limitation of using a computer or other VoIP device which are restricted to home environment. To use this software, clients will need to install a mobile dialer into their mobile phone.

  • IP PBX: An IP PBX is a home or business VoIP system for making internal and external calls. It consists of an IP PBX server, one or more SIP phones or VoIP phones and sometimes a VoIP Gateway. The phones are connected to the server. When someone wishes to make an internal call, they will go through the IP PBX server which has a directory of all the phones and their SIP addresses in the system and the call will be connected to the recipient. If one wishes to make an external call using the IP PBX it can be done with a VoIP Gateway or VoIP service provider.
    The IP PBX business is growing really fast as many companies and homes are looking for PBX solutions. By providing IP PBX you will help your clients set up their systems.

In order to choose the right service to offer, I suggest you decide what your strengths and weaknesses are, what do you like doing and what not? For example; are you good at sales? Are you good at helping people? Choose a service where you will need what you are good at.

Here are a few more tips on how to choose the right service to offer

  • Many VoIP companies allow you to rent their software, by renting you can try out the software without investing a lot of money into it. This way you can try it out and become a VoIP reseller and if you don’t like you can just stop.

  • It is also useful to speak to people already in the VoIP industry and ask them what they like and dislike about it. Based on that you can decide what is best for you. If you go to tradeshows you can speak to people there and you will also get a clearer view of the different VoIP services.

  • Read on blogs, forums, websites as get as much information as you can before you start

Once you have decided what part of the VoIP industry you want to go into, it’s time to start looking for a company to buy or rent the different elements from.

I suggest looking for a company that has been around for some time so you know it is reliable. Beware of fraud companies trying to sell you their products. Their services might look like they are cheaper but in the end they will cost you a lot of money because they don’t work.

Depending on the service you wish to offer, you will need different products in order to start.

For most services you will need:

  • A website to allow the customer to sign up and see their options and minutes used (optional but much recommended).

  • A provider of minutes so that your customers can call regular PSTN phone numbers.

  • A DID provider which allows your customers to have regular PSTN phone numbers for incoming calls.

  • A VoIP softswitch to route traffic from the DIDs to your customers and allow them to call out. Some companies will allow you to rent your softswitch which is great if you are just starting off your company and don’t have a lot of capital to invest.

  • A hardware provider for the ATAs and IP phones needed to have your customers connect to the VoIP server.

If you want to offer mobile VoIP services, you will need mobile dialers as well.

You may also need additional modules such as callback, callshop, fax, IP PBX, transcoding or tunnel depending on what you are offering.

Whatever services you choose, your hardware and software provider will be able to tell you exactly what you need in order to successfully set up a VoIP business.