The September 2013 Issue of TAS Trader

Herman Shooster: A Distinguished Answering Service Pioneer Retires

By Jim Boring

Herman ShoosterHerman Shooster was down on his luck. At forty-eight years old, he had run a famous drive-in restaurant outside Philadelphia with his brother – a business that had thrived in the early days of rock-and-roll, when stars like Bill Haley would stop by. Then the landscape changed, literally: The State of Pennsylvania decided to build an overpass that redirected traffic and left the restaurant isolated. Undaunted, Shooster went into the newly popular frozen food business. His shish kebabs were served on Eastern Airline flights, sold in major supermarkets, and even featured at the White House.

When Shooster merged his company with a competitor, he found a compatible partner and success continued. That is, until the entrepreneurial bug bit him again. Shooster formed his own company and took it public. That was a big mistake. No longer the sole decision maker, Shooster found himself on the outside looking in when his board of directors fired him.

Herman and Dorothy ShoosterWith four kids and no prospects, things looked grim. Then, on a trip to Florida, Shooster’s wife, Dorothy, suggested that she wouldn’t mind living in the Sunshine State. That set off a search for a business they could afford to buy. Two friends mentioned that the answering service business had possibilities. From the perspective of 2013, they were certainly right.

Herman and Dorothy Shooster bought a small answering service called Ding-a-Ling in Fort Lauderdale and went to work learning the business. At the time, the answering service industry was a collection of small businesses, most of which did not communicate much with each other. Herman began to talk with other owners about their shared interests. Over time Shooster became a trusted competitor, someone who played the game fairly and whose word could be depended on. As competitors would go out of business, they often came to Shooster to buy them out. Thus began the rapid growth of his company.

Herman Shooster has successfully navigated the enormous technological changes as well as the equally significant ways in which people communicate. He has taken a small mom-and-pop answering service and transformed it into a major player in the contact center industry. Now called Global Response, the company provides customer service to such iconic brands as National Geographic, Tory Burch, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, MOMA, and a long list of others. And the answering service side of the business has grown to one of the largest in the industry under the name Answering Service Care.

Global Response is a true family enterprise, run by all four of Herman and Dorothy Shooster’s children. The company has grown from a handful of employees to over 1,500, with locations in Florida, Michigan, and Washington. Herman Shooster was recently recognized for his remarkable contributions to the community and business by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in South Florida. The paper named Shooster Outstanding Business Leader of the Year for 2012 and presented him with the prestigious Excalibur Award.

Herman Shooster is a respected pioneer in the answering service community and has many friends in the industry who respect and honor him for forty years in the TAS business. If you would like to send a card or contact Herman, please contact Stephen Shooster at 954-973-7300 or steve@globalresponse.com.

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Pay Attention to Internet Security in Your TAS

By Peter L. DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderWhen using the Internet, it’s critical to be aware of the risks. You don’t want to take a naive approach toward security on your telephone answering service’s computers. Computer security is a complex issue, deserving serious attention.

At the risk of oversimplification, here are some simple guidelines to follow:

  • Use anti-virus protection on each computer that accesses the Internet or is on a network with other computers.
  • Apply all critical updates for Microsoft Windows and Office products. Hackers target these programs because of their popularity and nearly universal presence.
  • Install and configure a firewall to protect computers that access the Internet.
  • Practice safe computing. Don’t open unexpected attachments; have a healthy skepticism with unsolicited warnings. Viruses and malware often use these ploys as a way to sneak unto a computer.
  • Use common sense. If something is too good to be true, it generally is; if something seems too risky, it probably is. Don’t believe everything you see online.

nCall Answering Service SoftwareThere is much more to these basic recommendations – and there are other issues to consider – but you can start by covering these essential items first and then build on them.

The future of your TAS and the security of your clients’ data are at stake. Don’t take any chances.

Peter DeHaan (www.peterdehaan.com) is publisher of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

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Alston Tascom’s ADAM Available for General Release
Alston Tascom’s ADAM (Alston Designed Asterisk Machine) gives answering services power over their call routing and the data associated with the call, controlling all aspects of any call. Because the switch is software-based, users not only dictate how calls are routed but also know the status of calls at any moment. ADAM has completed its beta testing and is now deployed at eight locations, with more orders on the way. ADAM provides answering services with a soft switch and office PBX, which accommodates TDM, SIP, fax, remote office, remote agents, and any combination of tools needed for a call center and office.

Five Reasons to Attend ASTAA
The 2013 ASTAA Annual Conference will include valuable information you don’t want to miss. Here are five reasons you’ll want to be there:

  1. Sales: building a niche market
  2. Operations: a workshop with Bernie O’Donnell on higher agent performance and a session on determining which agents can successfully work from home
  3. Customer Care: reactive and proactive from (the best) Keener Communications
  4. Finances: geared for profits from Marilyn Landis with calculations and handouts for a critical review of costs and revenue (special one-day price of only $149 for this Wednesday session)
  5. More: sessions on cheaper money, HIPAA, ObamaCare, and selling in the cloud.

The cost is only $299, and the conference will be held October 14–16 in Annapolis, Maryland. Learn more at www.astaa.org, dan@callconsult.net, or 763-473-0210.

Sound Telecom Completes Agreement with Golden Gate BPO
Sound Telecom completed an agreement with Golden Gate BPO of Weston, Florida, to generate new contact center business. “We turned to Golden Gate because of their proven track record and the quality and depth of their high-level connections within the contact center industry,” stated Sound Telecom owner and founder Michael LaBaw. “I was impressed that Golden Gate BPO is built on the premise of being the best and most complete consultative outsourcing resource for its clients.” Sound Telecom has aggressive expansion planned for 2013 and 2014 and has determined that an outsourced model of business development would be the best way to achieve sales goals rapidly.

Amtelco Promotes Pat Dye to Sales Manager for miSecureMessages
Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco, announced the promotion of Pat Dye to sales manager for miSecureMessages, Amtelco’s subscription-based Smartphone paging and messaging application. MiSecureMessages is vital to maintaining the security of Protected Health Information (PHI), ensuring that HIPAA and HITECH regulations are met. Dye is heading a team focused on sales to the healthcare market. He is excited to show the capabilities of miSecureMessages to prospective Amtelco customers. Curtin said, “Given the September 23, 2013, government deadline for healthcare organizations to have a plan in place to secure PHI, Amtelco needed to expand our outreach with the miSecureMessages solution.”

Bob Zoellner Promoted to GM for Amtelco’s Telescan Division
Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco, and Roger Young, president of Telescan, announced the promotion of Telescan’s Bob Zoellner to the position of general manager for Amtelco’s Telescan division in St. Louis, Missouri. Zoellner has worked for Telescan for six years as technical services manager. In that position he handled technical services for customers and designed Telescan systems. As general manager of Telescan, Zoellner will be in charge of day-to-day operations and will work with the Wisconsin and Missouri offices to enhance and consolidate services. He will also continue to work directly with customers to promote products that meet their needs.

NAEO IS Programmers Workshop a Huge Success
naoe-workshop-2013The recent NAEO Intelligent Series Workshop in Atlanta on August 5–7 was a huge success, with nearly sixty attendees. Located at the Embassy Suites Hotel at the Atlanta Airport, attendees enjoyed a focused training environment, with all the amenities and comforts of a Hilton brand hotel. The three-day event focused on the IS Supervisor, including flow charting, info pages, shared fields, building account templates, hands-on scripting, creating an account from scratch, adding scripting elements, and tips to simplify and standardize the script development and conversion process. The advanced session covered designing and programming IS directories with contact based dispatch methods.

Edith Edgar Joins Sound Telecom as Call Center Manager
Sound Telecom, a nationwide provider of telephone answering services, contact center solutions, and cloud-based phone systems, announced the appointment of Edith Edgar as its call center operations manager. Edith “Edie” Edgar brings diverse skills and fifteen years of call center management experience to Sound Telecom’s operations team, having managed the workforce of 750 inbound and outbound customer service agents located across three locations. “Edie has an amazing depth and breadth of experience. I continue to be impressed with what Edie knows and what she knows how to do exceedingly well,” said Brian Gabriel, Sound Telecom’s COO.

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[Posted by Peter DeHaan for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]