Here are some tips that will help keep your fax-related costs to a minimum.

1. Schedule to send during off-peak time for lower long distance rates. If the long distance plan you are using has lower night rates, it's amazing what you can save by giving a little forethought as to just what has to be faxed right now and what can actually be faxed during off-peak hours to be available first thing in the morning. This can save you as much as 30% to 40%!

2. Another consideration if you have a fairly large volume of faxing--is going with a carrier that offers incremental billing will save considerably as most faxes are very short.

3. Every fax cover sheet should have little boxes that must be checked by you or your employees saying something like "Overnight Fax?--Yes or No," "Fax Immediately?--Yes or No." If nothing else, it causes people to stop and think about the urgency and think in terms of cost-cutting.

4. Another fax fact. Design your fax cover sheet as brief and short as possible (but make sure it is legible). The longer it takes to send your faxes, the more they will cost. In some cases you may be able to use a rubber stamp fax transmittal that can be stamped on the document you are sending instead of a separate cover sheet. Example: you have one page to fax--add a page of fax transmittal information and you have doubled your cost in long-distance charges to send that fax. Try post-it notes. 3M sells a "Post-it Fax Note" that is very small and can be attached to your fax document.

5. Consider switching to a PC fax/modem with at least 28.8 baud rate. More and more businesses are going this route and are buying faster modems because of the on-line services and e-mail becoming so prevalent. It just makes good sense to take advantage of this faster speed in transmitting faxes. You don't know what type of fax receiver the recipient has, but chances are getting better all the time that it will be a higher speed PC fax/modem. Also, don't use high resolution to transmit faxes unless it is really necessary--they go so much slower. Unless you are transmitting a very bad copy, standard resolution is more than adequate.

6. If your business has very heavy fax activity, don't assign a separate line to each fax machine--set up a hunt group. This way, if your first fax line is busy, the call will roll over to the next line, and so on. You can probably get by with half as many fax lines this way as no lines will be sitting idle waiting for someone to dial that particular number. You would only give out one fax number and the call would ring in on the line that is not busy.

7. Dedicated modem lines are not usually necessary. Many businesses have local lines installed solely for this purpose. Unless a modem is used almost full-time, connect your modems to your voice lines. Just make sure your phone system will not allow hand-set pickup or it will break your modem connection. Why pay monthly local telephone company charges for a line that is used maybe an hour or two a week?

8. Use your fax machine as a scanner. If you do not need high quality scanning, and you just want to capture documents in your PC to eliminate hard copy clutter, fax it to your PC. PC fax software is not very expensive and is fantastic for sending and receiving faxes right from your desktop.

These fax tips could add to your efficiency and save you big money over time.

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