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Streamlined Billing and Collections

Increase Cash Flow by Shortening the Time Between Billing Cut Off and Payment Receipt

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-billing cutoff

As we look at ways to be a responsive answering service, one critical, but too-often overlooked, area is billing and collections. This affects cash flow and is a critical consideration in maintaining the financial viability of your answering service. Each additional day that you wait to receive payment is a day left with you trying to operate without the money that’s due you. 

Let’s look at some ways to streamline billing and collections.

Billing Cutoff Date

How close is your billing cutoff date to when you begin processing invoices? The goal is to make it as short as possible. If you bill monthly, what happens when the end of the month occurs on the weekend? What if it’s a long weekend? Do you wait until Monday or the next business day to begin work on billing? If so, that’s one, two, or even three extra days added to your collection cycle.

If you bill every twenty-eight days, you can strategically pick your billing cutoff date to when you can best work on it. This might be on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Billing Cutoff Time

When do you download or transfer your billing statistics? Though midnight is a logical cutoff time, does that make sense if you won’t start processing information until 9 a.m.? Though nine hours may not seem like much, it represents nine hours of billing that you can collect this billing cycle as opposed to the next one.

Regardless, the goal is to shorten the time between downloading your stats and sending invoices. Strive to make it the same day.

Sending Invoices

Most businesses today email their invoices. Do you? Mailing them adds an extra two or even three days to your collection cycle. Look for ways to get your invoices to your clients’ payables department as quickly as possible. Is texting invoices an option? Most people open text messages within a few minutes. That’s faster than email and much faster than snail mail.

Receiving Payments

Do you have clients mail you a check? That adds another couple of days to your collection cycle. Can you have them pay by credit card instead? Though credit card payments involve additional fees, it may be worth it to collect on time, especially for chronic late payers. What about ACH (Automated Clearing House) and ETF (electronic funds transfer)? These are low-cost ways to collect faster.

Related to credit card and ACH payment is timing. When do you process those payments? Is it when you generate the invoice, at the due date, or sometime in between? Shortening the number of days will allow you to collect faster and reduce your collection cycle. However, don’t change your processing timing without first clearly communicating the new policy to your clients.

Conclusion

Seek ways to shorten the time between your billing cutoff and receiving payment. This will improve your cash flow and increase the health of your answering service. For further information, explore two related accounting principles: average collection period and accounts receivable turnover.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The November 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Streamlined Billing and Collections

Increase Cash Flow by Shortening the Time Between Billing Cut Off and Payment Receipt

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As we look at ways to be a responsive answering service, one critical, but too-often overlooked, area is billing and collections. This affects cash flow and is a critical consideration in maintaining the financial viability of your answering service. Each additional day that you wait to receive payment is a day left with you trying to operate without the money that’s due you. 

Let’s look at some ways to streamline billing and collections.

Billing Cutoff Date: How close is your billing cutoff date to when you begin processing invoices? The goal is to make it as short as possible. If you bill monthly, what happens when the end of the month occurs on the weekend? What if it’s a long weekend? Do you wait until Monday or the next business day to begin work on billing? If so, that’s one, two, or even three extra days added to your collection cycle.

If you bill every twenty-eight days, you can strategically pick your billing cutoff date to when you can best work on it. This might be on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Billing Cutoff Time: When do you download or transfer your billing statistics? Though midnight is a logical cutoff time, does that make sense if you won’t start processing information until 9 a.m.? Though nine hours may not seem like much, it represents nine hours of billing that you can collect this billing cycle as opposed to the next one.

Regardless, the goal is to shorten the time between downloading your stats and sending invoices. Strive to make it the same day.

Sending Invoices: Most businesses today email their invoices. Do you? Mailing them adds an extra two or even three days to your collection cycle. Look for ways to get your invoices to your clients’ payables department as quickly as possible. Is texting invoices an option? Most people open text messages within a few minutes. That’s faster than email and much faster than snail mail.

Receiving Payments: Do you have clients mail you a check? That adds another couple of days to your collection cycle. Can you have them pay by credit card instead? Though credit card payments involve additional fees, it may be worth it to collect on time, especially for chronic late payers. What about ACH (Automated Clearing House) and ETF (electronic funds transfer)? These are low-cost ways to collect faster.

Related to credit card and ACH payment is timing. When do you process those payments? Is it when you generate the invoice, at the due date, or sometime in between? Shortening the number of days will allow you to collect faster and reduce your collection cycle. However, don’t change your processing timing without first clearly communicating the new policy to your clients.

Conclusion: Seek ways to shorten the time between your billing cutoff and receiving payment. This will improve your cash flow and increase the health of your answering service. For further information, explore two related accounting principles: average collection period and accounts receivable turnover.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.


The 5 Myths of Business Strategy

By Rich Horwath

The most important leadership behavior critical to company success is strategic thinking. As a good strategy is at the core of any organization’s success, it’s important to understand the five strategy myths that may hold back your team from reaching greater levels of success. 

Strategy Myth 1: Strategy Comes from Somebody Else: The strategy that you execute should be your own. 

Identify the corporate strategies, product strategies, functional group strategies, and your strategies. Then seek alignment.

Strategy Myth 2: Strategy Is a Once-A-Year Process: The number one driver of revenue growth is the reallocation of resources throughout the year from underperforming areas to areas with greater potential. Strategy is the primary vehicle for making these vital resource reallocation decisions.

Conduct a monthly strategy tune-up to review and calibrate strategies.

Strategy Myth 3: Execution Is More Important Than Strategy: The number one cause of bankruptcy is flawed strategy, not poor execution. Strategy and execution are both important, but all great businesses begin with an insightful strategy. 

Create strategy first. Then shape an execution plan.

Strategy Myth 4: Strategy Is About Beating the Competition: Attempting to be better than the competition results in competitive convergence. Doing the same things in the same ways as competitors, blurs the line of value between your company and competitors. 

Remember that competitive advantage is providing superior value to customers. It’s not beating the competition by being better.

Strategy Myth 5: Strategy Is the Same as Mission, Vision, and Goals: Since strategy is an abstract concept, it’s often wrongly interchanged with the terms vision, mission, and goals. Remember, mission is your current purpose, and vision is your future purpose. Goals are what you are trying to achieve, and strategy is how you will allocate resources to achieve your goals.

Conclusion: If left unchecked, strategy myths can cause you and your business to fail. The number one cause of business failure is bad strategy. Counter these strategy myths with right thinking and decisive action. Then watch your business soar.

Rich Horwath has helped more than 100,000 managers develop their strategy skills through live workshops and virtual training programs. To sign up for the free monthly newsletter Strategic Thinker, visit: www.StrategySkills.com. 

[This piece is adapted from Article Weekly. Read the full article.]

Industry News

Advantage TeleMessaging Turns 25: Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary on September 28th, 2019. Since 1994, they have been dedicated to the success of every one of their clients by striving to offer nothing less than excellence in customer service. Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. has grown from a one-agent, local answering service in West Reading, PA to a multi-award-winning, call management center with over 500 clients throughout the United States and Canada. Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. would like to express their gratitude to all of their clients throughout the years for helping them achieve this milestone. Here’s to another successful twenty-five years.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” -Wendell Berry

“Education is the transmission of civilization.” -Will Durant

“Acupuncture: a jab well done.” -unknown

Ideas to Streamline Agent Training

Look to Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Instructing New Employees

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-agent training

Last month we looked at ways to streamline answering service agent hiring. Now that they’re hired, the next step is to optimize their training. For this initiative, we have two potential goals. One is to train better, and the other is to train faster. Ideally, we want to do both.

To address the speed element, we can look for ways to streamline training from both the company standpoint and the new hire perspective. When we streamline the trainer component, we reduce training costs and decrease trainer hours. When we streamline the trainee component, the new employee becomes productive faster and does so at a lower cost. This reduces the chance of them getting bored or frustrated during training and quitting. It also allows them to generate revenue for your answering service faster.

Here are some techniques to streamline agent training:

One-to-Many Instruction

The more agents you can train at the same time by one instructor, the more efficient that trainer will be. This has the highest potential at larger answering services that hire and train more employees. But smaller answering services that typically train one agent at a time can still look to employ one-to-many training opportunities. Even if one trainer instructs two trainees, it will double the trainer’s output. But what about classroom-style environments with an instructor training four, eight, or even twelve employees at one time?

Though some aspects of training may require one-on-one instruction, look to minimize those instances whenever possible. This allows you to maximize the instructor’s effectiveness with one-to-many training scenarios.

Recorded Lessons

Look for segments of training that are highly repetitive. Record the instructor giving that lesson. Then have future trainees watch the recording. This is a one-time investment that you can use repeatedly for many new employees for months or even years. Just be sure to periodically review the recording to make sure the information hasn’t changed. When the recording becomes out-of-date, make a new one.

Self-Study Opportunities

Not every part of agent training requires an instructor. New employees can conduct some aspects of training by themselves. This may include reading training materials or engaging in hands-on interactive instruction. Though you might need to develop some of these tools yourself, you may be able to get others from your vendor or user group. Whenever possible, adapt what’s already provided instead of making your own.

Fast Productivity

Does your answering service have a high-volume account or a group of accounts that are easy to serve? It might be worthwhile to structure training so that your new hires can handle just this one high-volume account or a group of easy accounts quickly. This will let them gain experience early in the training process. And it will allow them to be productive much faster. 

After they’ve taken these specific types of calls for a while, they can return to training and prepare to handle your other accounts. Not only does this benefit your TAS by having these new hires handle billable transactions quickly, it also benefits the employee by giving them a break in their training and letting them take calls—which is what you hired them to do.

Summary

Streamline agent training to save money, improve results, and produce productive employees faster.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The October 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Ideas to Streamline Agent Training

Look to Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Instructing New Employees

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Last month we looked at ways to streamline answering service agent hiring. Now that they’re hired, the next step is to optimize their training. For this initiative, we have two potential goals. One is to train better, and the other is to train faster. Ideally we want to do both.

To address the speed element, we can look for ways to streamline training from both the company standpoint and the new hire perspective. When we streamline the trainer component, we reduce training costs and decrease trainer hours. When we streamline the trainee component, the new employee becomes productive faster and does so at a lower cost. This reduces the chance of them getting bored or frustrated during training and quitting. It also allows them to generate revenue for your answering service faster.

Here are some techniques to streamline agent training:

One-to-Many Instruction: The more agents you can train at the same time by one instructor, the more efficient that trainer will be. This has the highest potential at larger answering services that hire and train more employees. But smaller answering services that typically train one agent at a time, can still look to employ one-to-many training opportunities. Even if one trainer instructs two trainees, it will double the trainer’s output. But what about classroom-style environments with an instructor training four, eight, or even twelve employees at one time?

Though some aspects of training may require one-on-one instruction, look to minimize those instances whenever possible. This allows you to maximize the instructor’s effectiveness with one-to-many training scenarios.

Recorded Lessons: Look for segments of training that are highly repetitive. Record the instructor giving that lesson. Then have future trainees watch the recording. This is a one-time investment that you can use repeatedly for many new employees for months or even years. Just be sure to periodically review the recording to make sure the information hasn’t changed. When the recording becomes out-of-date, make a new one.

Self-Study Opportunities: Not every part of agent training requires an instructor. New employees can conduct some aspects of training by themselves. This may include reading training materials or engaging in hands-on interactive instruction. Though you might need to develop some of these tools yourself, you may be able to get others from your vendor or user group. Whenever possible, adapt what’s already provided instead of making your own.

Fast Productivity: Does your answering service have a high-volume account or a group of accounts that are easy to serve? It might be worthwhile to structure training so that your new hires can handle just this one high-volume account or a group of easy accounts quickly. This will let them gain experience early in the training process. And it will allow them to be productive much faster. 

After they’ve taken these specific types of calls for a while, they can return to training and prepare to handle your other accounts. Not only does this benefit your TAS by having these new hires handle billable transactions quickly, it also benefits the employee by giving them a break in their training and letting them take calls—which is what you hired them to do.

Summary: Streamline agent training to save money, improve results, and produce productive employees faster.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.


The 4 C’s of Customer Experience

By Tra Williams 

Remember the old saying that if you never expect anything then you’ll never be disappointed? Well, that might work on blind dates and birthday presents, but in business, expectations are impossible to avoid. Fortunately, if you properly position your business in the minds of your customers, you can mold their expectations in ways that are consistent with the service and value you provide. 

There are four foundational elements that define your customers’ expectations. Mastering all four is the key to exceeding your customers’ expectations every time and retaining their business.

1. Culture: Who you are is the key to what you should do and how you should do it. Potential customers begin to build a mental profile of your business the moment they become aware of it. They make assumptions about what to expect from the culture they observe. Subtle and not so subtle clues convey information and frame the expected tone of your interaction even before your initial contact. 

The key to mastering this element is to maintain consistency between the service you provide with your branding and messaging.

2. Credibility: An impressive depth of knowledge is nothing without parallel performance and vice versa. Your customer makes assumptions about your credibility because of and sometimes despite your performance. Knowledge of your industry isn’t enough. Past performance isn’t enough. 

The key to mastering this element is to know why and how, not just one or the other. 

3. Capacity: Revenues will not materialize without the infrastructure they require. How you execute at a smaller level creates expectations with customers of your ability to execute at a larger level. 

The key to mastering this element is to realize that preparation creates opportunity.

4. Command: Your command over the process should eliminate customer effort. Customers expect results without effort on their part. If a customer must call multiple times and talk to multiple people to yield results, your process has failed, and you have likely lost that customer’s business. On the contrary, effortless results yield ongoing business. 

The key to mastering this element is clear communication of a well-defined and effortless process.

Conclusion: Customers choose businesses that consistently meet or exceed their expectations. Your culture, credibility, capacity, and command define whether you exceed their expectations and gain a customer for life or fall short and send them to a competitor. 

Tra Williams is a speaker, business consultant, and author of the upcoming book Feed Your Unicorn. For more information, visit www.TraWilliams.com

 [This piece is adapted from Article Weekly. Read the full article.]

Industry News

Amtelco Offers Weekly Webinars: Amtelco conducts webinars every week to provide customers with up-to-the-minute solutions to their business needs. Many of the webinar topics were developed in collaboration with Amtelco customers. Some upcoming topics include: Web Agent, Telescan R1–R10 Update, MiSecureMessages, Migrating to Contact Architecture, Telescan Prism II, Introducing IS Genesis dashboard, Social Media Monitoring Opportunities, and Agent Status Lights. For more information or to access these webinars, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or webinars@amtelco.com.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“Every student needs someone who says, simply, ‘You mean something. You count.’” -Tony Kushner 

“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.” -Peter Ustinov

“Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.” -unknown

Optimize Agent Hiring

Streamline Your Hiring Process to Realize Fast Results

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-phone interview

Have you ever offered a promising job candidate a position only for them to decline because they already accepted a job with another company? I have. I took too long. Even though they claim to have preferred to work for me, they grabbed the first job offer that came their way.

People today—including job seekers—have little patience. We live in a world that wants instant gratification, and we have little tolerance for waiting. Unless you want to continue to lose qualified candidates, you need to optimize your hiring process. Look for ways to make it more efficient so you can hire the best applicants before someone else does.

Don’t continue to follow yesterday’s hiring practices, because they’re no longer appropriate for today’s workplace. What is the average time between a job seeker first expressing interest and you hiring them? I hope your answer isn’t more than a week. Even a couple of days is too long. Can you get down to twenty-four hours? How about a same-day decision? Just how fast can you act?

Here is an idea to consider. Note that this isn’t a proven plan to follow but merely a possibility to spark your creativity:

Online Self-Assessment

Once you’ve captured a prospective employee’s attention, provide them with an online self-assessment tool that will allow them to determine if an answering service environment is a good fit for them. Present a series of questions that reflects work at your answering service. The more questions they answer “yes” to, the better fit they are. Score their answers. Then tell them: “People who score between X and Y tend to like working for our company, whereas people with lower scores may struggle to succeed in this position. Do you want to apply?” [Note: unless you take time to validate the outcome, don’t record their score or ask them their results. To avoid a legal quagmire, let them use this tool privately to determine if they want to move forward.]

This assessment occurs online and automatically without any involvement on your part.

Phone Screening Call

If they want to proceed after taking the online self-assessment, move them immediately to a prescreening evaluation over the phone. This is a standardized set of questions to rule out candidates who don’t fit your criteria, such as people wanting full-time work when you’re hiring part-timers or candidates seeking a business-hour’s position when your openings are for evening and weekends.

You should script the call flow so that any of your operators can conduct the phone screen call. Anyone who passes should move on to a phone interview.

Same Day Phone Interview

For candidates who pass the phone screen, give them the option of an immediate phone interview, or let them schedule one. Yes, an immediate phone interview. Connect them with your hiring manager or HR department. Again, this should be a structured process that will provide an instant pass/fail outcome.

Though you may prefer an in-person interview, remember that all their work at your answering service will take place over the phone, so a phone interview should be more indicative of their capabilities than an in-person meeting.

Make an Immediate Offer

For candidates who pass the phone interview, make an offer at that point. Don’t delay. Desiring to compare a group of candidates who pass the phone interview will not only take more time, but it also increases the risk of your best candidate receiving a job offer from someone else before you make yours.

Once you’ve made the offer, don’t push them for an immediate yes/no answer. Though some people will accept right away, others will want to think about it. If that’s the case, schedule a follow-up phone call.

This idealized hiring process could take less than an hour. Though it will require effort to fine-tune each step and compress it into a sixty-minute procedure, you can do it.

Now your next task is to optimize your onboarding and training process to make it just as efficient.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The September 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Optimize Agent Hiring

Streamline Your Hiring Process to Realize Fast Results

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Have you ever offered a promising job candidate a position only for them to decline because they already accepted a job with another company? I have. I took too long. Even though they claim to have preferred to work for me, they grabbed the first job offer that came their way.

People today—including job seekers—have little patience. We live in a world that wants instant gratification, and we have little tolerance for waiting. Unless you want to continue to lose qualified candidates, you need to optimize your hiring process. Look for ways to make it more efficient so you can hire the best applicants before someone else does.

Don’t continue to follow yesterday’s hiring practices, because they’re no longer appropriate for today’s workplace. What is the average time between a job seeker first expressing interest and you hiring them? I hope your answer isn’t more than a week. Even a couple of days is too long. Can you get down to twenty-four hours? How about a same-day decision? Just how fast can you act?

Here is an idea to consider. Note that this isn’t a proven plan to follow but merely a possibility to spark your creativity:

Online Self-Assessment: Once you’ve captured a prospective employee’s attention, provide them with an online self-assessment tool that will allow them to determine if an answering service environment is a good fit for them. Present a series of questions that reflect work at your answering service. The more questions they answer “yes” to, the better fit they are. Score their answers. Then tell them: “People who score between X and Y tend to like working for our company, whereas people with lower scores may struggle to succeed in this position. Do you want to apply?” [Note: unless you take time to validate the outcome, don’t record their score or ask them their results. To avoid a legal quagmire, let them use this tool privately to determine if they want to move forward.]

This assessment occurs online and automatically without any involvement on your part.

Phone Screening Call: If they want to proceed after taking the online self-assessment, move them immediately to a prescreening evaluation over the phone. This is a standardized set of questions to rule out candidates who don’t fit your criteria, such as people wanting full-time work when you’re hiring part-timers or candidates seeking a business-hour’s position when your openings are for evening and weekends.

You should script the call flow so that any of your operators can conduct the phone screen call. Anyone who passes should move on to a phone interview.

Same Day Phone Interview: For candidates who pass the phone screen, give them the option of an immediate phone interview, or let them schedule one. Yes, an immediate phone interview. Connect them with your hiring manager or HR department. Again, this should be a structured process that will provide an instant pass/fail outcome.

Though you may prefer an in-person interview, remember that all their work at your answering service will take place over the phone, so a phone interview should be more indicative of their capabilities than an in-person meeting.

Make an Immediate Offer: For candidates who pass the phone interview, make an offer at that point. Don’t delay. Desiring to compare a group of candidates who pass the phone interview will not only take more time, but it also increases the risk of your best candidate receiving a job offer from someone else before you make yours.

Once you’ve made the offer, don’t push them for an immediate yes/no answer. Though some people will accept right away, others will want to think about it. If that’s the case, schedule a follow-up phone call.

This idealized hiring process could take less than an hour. Though it will require effort to fine-tune each step and compress it into a sixty-minute procedure, you can do it.

Now your next task is to optimize your onboarding and training process to make it just as efficient.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.


Reactions: The Superpower You Didn’t Know You Had

By Jennifer Powers

If you want to take more control of your reality you need to take more control of your reactions. But how do you do that? Start with this simple three-step formula:

1. Observe and Resist Your Knee-Jerk Reaction: Observe how you tend to react when things don’t go your way and resist going there. Give yourself time and space to allow any negative reactions to flow through you.

By pausing, you allow your “fight or flight” mechanism time to calm down. This gives yourself a second to regain your composure. Consider taking deep belly breaths, counting to ten, or humming a tune. This will occupy the space that a crappy reaction would normally take.

2. Ask Yourself a Question: To redirect your focus, ask yourself a question. Not just any question, but one that will help you shift into a more positive mindset from which you can react. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • What about this situation can I be grateful for?
  • What belief or opinion would serve me better?
  • How do I deserve to feel?
  • Who would love to switch places with me? 

Feel free to come up with your own powerful questions that will shift you into a positive mindset.

3. Answer the Question: You can’t skip this step. If you only ask yourself the question you are only halfway there. The shift in perspective and your ability to react from a more positive outlook occurs when you answer the question. This part may be challenging at first, but push through it because the payoff is big.

Then you can calmly respond.

Conclusion: Remember, seemingly bad things happen to everyone. You’re not alone. But you have way more power over your day than you may recognize. The moment you begin to take control of your reactions you begin to take control of your reality. 

Jennifer Powers, MCC is an international speaker, executive coach, author of the best-selling book “Oh, shift!” and host of the fun and binge-worthy “Oh, shift!” podcast. For more information visit www.ohshift.com.

[This piece is adapted from Article Weekly. Read the full article.]

Industry News

Amtelco Releases IS Social Media Monitor: The Intelligent Series (IS) social media monitor translates popular social media posts, messages, and notifications into dispatch jobs that call center agents can manage on behalf of their clients. The social media monitor polls the client’s social media accounts—such as Facebook and Twitter—for incoming activity and presents the resulting notifications to the IS server as MergeComm Web API triggers. The MergeComm triggers are presented to agents as dispatch jobs that can be scripted as needed in IS supervisor. For more information, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

Life can be perfectly satisfying without major achievements. -Alice Munro

“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” -Sean O’Casey

“When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.” -unknown

Don’t Forget SEO for Your Website

Your Website Isn’t Finished Until It’s Optimized for Search Engines 

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

If you have a website for your answering service, I suspect you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a critical component of every website, assuming you want people to find you. SEO means that the content of your site is optimized for search engines. If you skip this step, expect the search engines to skip you.

SEO is part art and part science. Many people promote themselves as SEO experts, promising grand outcomes. Some know what they’re doing and produce great results. Others talk a good game but can’t deliver. Even more irritating, some SEO experts disagree on best practices. The final frustration comes from the reality that SEO best practices change often.

In addition to consultants, there are books, classes, and seminars that teach about search engine optimization. Though I can only touch on SEO in this short article, here are some things to consider.

Pages and Posts

Though the terminology may vary from one web platform to the next, a page is static content that doesn’t change often. Examples include your home, services, get started, about, and contact pages.

In contrast to pages are posts. Posts are the dynamic content that you publish on your blog—assuming your site has one. You use pages for content marketing.

Both pages (your online marketing brochure) and posts (your content marketing gateway) benefit from SEO. 

The Essentials

Every page or post will have a title for visitors. Write a title that will capture their attention. Beyond this, there’s also an SEO title working behind the scenes. This is for search engines. Search engines will evaluate the title and display it in their search results. Most web platforms allow you to differentiate between these two types of titles. If not, you must write a title that will work for both visitors and search results.

Next is a page or post description, called meta-description. Your visitors won’t see this directly, but it will display in search results. You want this meta-description to provide information that will grab the search engines’ attention.

The third element is a keyword or key phrase. The content on each page or post should revolve around this word or phrase. But avoid repeating keywords or phrases on different pages and posts.

There are many other SEO elements, such as headings, graphics, link strategy, keyword density, content length, and URL selection. But title, description, and keyword are the essential SEO elements.

SEO Tools

Your website designer should have handled SEO for your pages when they designed your site, but not all do. Ask if they did. Then verify. But what about the content you add, such as blog posts? They need search optimization too. You can pay someone to do this, or you can use an SEO tool, often called a plug-in. A couple of leading SEO tools are Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO. They’re easy to use, but mastering them—just like SEO—takes time. 

Remember, your answering service website isn’t finished until you’ve added SEO.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The August 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Don’t Forget SEO for Your Website

Your Website Isn’t Finished Until It’s Optimized for Search Engines

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

If you have a website for your answering service, I suspect you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a critical component of every website, assuming you want people to find you. SEO means that the content of your site is optimized for search engines. If you skip this step, expect the search engines to skip you.

SEO is part art and part science. Many people promote themselves as SEO experts, promising grand outcomes. Some know what they’re doing and produce great results. Others talk a good game but can’t deliver. Even more irritating, some SEO experts disagree on best practices. The final frustration comes from the reality that SEO best practices change often.

In addition to consultants, there are books, classes, and seminars that teach about search engine optimization. Though I can only touch on SEO in this short article, here are some things to consider.

Pages and Posts: Though the terminology may vary from one web platform to the next, a page is static content that doesn’t change often. Examples include your home, services, get started, about, and contact pages.

In contrast to pages are posts. Posts are the dynamic content that you publish on your blog—assuming your site has one. You use pages for content marketing.

Both pages (your online marketing brochure) and posts (your content marketing gateway) benefit from SEO. 

The Essentials: Every page or post will have a title for visitors. Write a title that will capture their attention. Beyond this, there’s also an SEO title working behind the scenes. This is for search engines. Search engines will evaluate the title and display it in their search results. Most web platforms allow you to differentiate between these two types of titles. If not, you must write a title that will work for both visitors and search results.

Next is a page or post description, called meta-description. Your visitors won’t see this directly, but it will display in search results. You want this meta-description to provide information that will grab the search engines’ attention.

The third element is a keyword or key phrase. The content on each page or post should revolve around this word or phrase. But avoid repeating keywords or phrases on different pages and posts.

There are many other SEO elements, such as headings, graphics, link strategy, keyword density, content length, and URL selection. But title, description, and keyword are the essential SEO elements.

SEO Tools: Your website designer should have handled SEO for your pages when they designed your site, but not all do. Ask if they did. Then verify. But what about the content you add, such as blog posts? They need search optimization too. You can pay someone to do this, or you can use an SEO tool, often called a plug-in. A couple of leading SEO tools are Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO. They’re easy to use, but mastering them—just like SEO—takes time. 

Remember, your answering service website isn’t finished until you’ve added SEO.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.


Congratulations to ATSI’s 2019 Award of Excellence Winners

The 2019 ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction (AoD) Recipients are:

Year 1
MAP Communications, Riverside, CA
A.V. Lauttamus Communications & Security, Weirton, WV
Medical TeleCommunications, Denver, CO
Intercon Messaging, Inc., Drayton Valley, AB
Answering 365, Los Angeles, CA

Year 2
Answer Ally, Sandy, OR
MASCO Services Inc., Boston, MA
Jefferson County Medication Foundation Trust, Birmingham, AL

Year 3
VoiceNation, Buford, GA
Professional Exchange Service Corp, Fresno, CA
A Superior Answering Service & Call Center, Madison, GA

Year 4
AAMCOM, Redondo Beach, CA
Answer—Southern States, Hopkinsville, KY

Year 5
Call 4 Health, Delray Beach, FL
Anserve Inc., Butler, NJ
Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., West Reading, PA
Combined Communications, Inc., Bowling Green, KY
AnSer, Clive, IA

Year 6
Sunshine Communication Services, Coral Gables, FL
AnswerPro Limited, Mission, KS
Communication Business Service, Inc., Marietta, GA
Alliance Communications Center, Orlando, FL
Bennett Answering Service, Flint, MI
Torcom The Perfect Answer, Madison, WI

Year 7
PWC Message Center, Dothan, AL
King’s Telephone Answering Services, Shreveport, LA

Year 8
AAA Message Connection, Chattanooga, TN
Carolyn’s Communications Inc., Snellville, GA

Year 9
Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI

Year 10
Mid-State Communications Network, LLC, Manchester, TN
Secretariats, Inc., Norfolk, VA
Phone Center Answering Service / Answer, Reno, NV

Year 11
Time Communications, Roseville, MN
Nationwide Inbound, Inc., Freeport, IL
The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL

Year 12
Quick Connections, Greenbelt, MD
Always on Call Answering Service, LLC, Ft. Myers, FL
Answering Advantage LLC, Memphis, TN
I24 Call Management Solution, Montreal, QC
Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC

Year 13
Action Telephone Exchange, Rochester, NY
Business & Professional Exchange, Beverly, MA
Personalized Communications Inc., Duncanville, TX
AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
IPN Messaging Center, LaPorte, IN

Year 14
King Communications, Saginaw, MI
Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
MedConnectUSA, Las Vegas, NV
AnswerTel of Athens, Inc., Athens, AL
Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
Alphapage, LLC, Denver, CO

Year 15
CallStar, St. Petersburg, FL
StatCall, Alexandria, VA
Central Communications, Inc., Norwalk, CT
Answer Excellence, Clearwater, FL
Messages & more, Inc., Flagstaff, AZ
Berkshire Communicators, Inc., Pittsfield, MA
ComNet, LLC, Muncie, IN

Year 16
Port City Communications, Port Huron, MI
CallNet Call Center, Bloomington, IN
Antietam Call Center, Hagerstown, MD
A Better Answer, Hurst, TX
Extend Communications, Inc., Brantford, ON
Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON

Year 17
TAB AnswerNetwork, Santa Ana, CA
Answer Quick, Louisville, TN
Corporate Message Services, Inc., Richmond Hill, GA

Year 18
Direct Line Teleresponse, Berkeley, CA
AnSer, Green Bay, WI
Answer Midwest, Inc., Alton, IL

Year 20
T.A.S. Communications, Inc., Madison, WI

Year 22
Answer United, Kalamazoo, MI
Hastings Humans, Austin, TX
Business Connections, Inc., Salem, OR
MedCom Professional Srvcs, Inc. dba Keystone Answering Srvc,
Newtown, PA

Year 23
Rochester Telemessaging Center, Rochester Hills, MI


Industry News

Amtelco Introduces Text-Enabled Landlines: Amtelco’s Intelligence Series software and MergeComm platform integrate with Infinite Convergence Solution’s (ICS) text enabled number service to allow enterprises to send short message service (SMS) messages to their customers using landline numbers. Enterprises can use the same toll-free and landline numbers for their messaging and voice customer communication, providing a better user experience.
Amtelco partners with ICS to provide SMS aggregator services to send and receive SMS text messages using a secure web connection to the internet. Amtelco customers that have already purchased ICS’s SMS aggregator services can text-enable landlines for no additional charge. ICS provides SMS messaging to landlines based on a per message fee.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“If you have the knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” -Margaret Fuller

“Art is science made clear.” -Jean Cocteau

“If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.” –unknown

Consider Content Marketing for Your Answering Service

Provide Valuable Information Your Clients and Prospects Will Appreciate 

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-content marketing

In past columns, we looked at how to make your answering service website stand out and the main pages every site should have. Now let’s switch our focus to content. You know what to put on your homepage, services, get started, about us, and contact us pages. But what if you want to incorporate a blog on your website? 

Coming up with good, fresh content on a regular basis is a challenge for TAS owners and managers who are already too busy. So if you’re going to make it a priority, you want to make it count. Avoid blogging about random topics that don’t provide value to your readers. You want to post what matters. This means content marketing.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is providing information that your audience will appreciate, find useful, and see as beneficial. It is not advertising. And it is not the place for self-promotion. Also, your content marketing piece will seldom end with a direct call to action.

Though this will frustrate advertise-focused people, the goal of content marketing is to provide value to readers. In doing so you establish yourself or company as a credible source a practical content they’ll want to read month after month.

Find a Theme

To guide your writing and direct your vision, you need a theme for your blog. That way your audience will know what to expect, and you’ll meet their expectations every time. What should your theme be? That’s a great question. 

What are you and your team knowledgeable about? This is an ideal place to start. There are two general areas to consider: answering service content and client-focused content.

Answering Service Content

For content marketing focused on the answering service industry, you’ll certainly be writing about what you know: answering services. Just remember this is not a place to promote your business. This is a place to provide intelligent and actionable content that will help clients better use their answering service and prospects better understand how to select one.

When you do this honestly, you help everyone who uses, or may use, an answering service, even if it’s not yours. But if this is the case, don’t despair. Your excellent posts about the industry positions you as a go-to expert. And eventually they’re bound to go to you.

Client-Focused Content

You can also do content marketing around the topic that’s of interest to your clients or a large group of your clients. Think of this as a value-added service. If you are medical answering service, cover topics of interest to healthcare practitioners. If you specialize in the service industry, right about that. If most of your clients are small businesses, provide them with valuable information about running their company.

The Goal

Regardless of the theme you pick, the goal is not to sell your services but to position yourself as a thought leader and earn their trust. Over time, your content marketing pieces will help drive business your way. And even if you have a regular reader who loves what you write but never uses your service, you can take solace in knowing that your words are benefiting the industry as a group. 

Everyone wins with content marketing.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The July 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Consider Content Marketing for Your Answering Service

Provide Valuable Information Your Clients and Prospects Will Appreciate

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

In past columns, we looked at how to make your answering service website stand out and the main pages every site should have. Now let’s switch our focus to content. You know what to put on your homepage, services, get started, about us, and contact us pages. But what if you want to incorporate a blog on your website? 

Coming up with good, fresh content on a regular basis is a challenge for TAS owners and managers who are already too busy. So if you’re going to make it a priority, you want to make it count. Avoid blogging about random topics that don’t provide value to your readers. You want to post what matters. This means content marketing.

What Is Content Marketing? Content marketing is providing information that your audience will appreciate, find useful, and see as beneficial. It is not advertising. And it is not the place for self-promotion. Also, your content marketing piece will seldom end with a direct call to action.

Though this will frustrate advertise-focused people, the goal of content marketing is to provide value to readers. In doing so you establish yourself or company as a credible source a practical content they’ll want to read month after month.

Find a Theme: To guide your writing and direct your vision, you need a theme for your blog. That way your audience will know what to expect, and you’ll meet their expectations every time. What should your theme be? That’s a great question. 

What are you and your team knowledgeable about? This is an ideal place to start. There are two general areas to consider: answering service content and client-focused content.

Answering Service Content: For content marketing focused on the answering service industry, you’ll certainly be writing about what you know: answering services. Just remember this is not a place to promote your business. This is a place to provide intelligent and actionable content that will help clients better use their answering service and prospects better understand how to select one.

When you do this honestly, you help everyone who uses, or may use, an answering service, even if it’s not yours. But if this is the case, don’t despair. Your excellent posts about the industry positions you as a go-to expert. And eventually they’re bound to go to you.

Client-Focused Content: You can also do content marketing around the topic that’s of interest to your clients or a large group of your clients. Think of this as a value-added service. If you are a medical answering service, cover topics of interest to healthcare practitioners. If you specialize in the service industry, right about that. If most of your clients are small businesses, provide them with valuable information about running their company.

The Goal: Regardless of the theme you pick, the goal is not to sell your services but to position yourself as a thought leader and earn their trust. Over time, your content marketing pieces will help drive business your way. And even if you have a regular reader who loves what you write but never uses your service, you can take solace in knowing that your words are benefiting the industry as a group. 

Everyone wins with content marketing.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.


ATSI Recognizes Top Answering Services

The 2019 ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction (AoD) Recipients are:

  • Answer Quick, Louisville, TN
  • Call 4 Health, Delray Beach, FL
  • Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC
  • Extend Communications, Inc., Brantford, ON
  • First American Payment Systems, Fort Worth, TX
  • Nationwide Inbound, Freeport, IL
  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL
  • Time Communications, Roseville, MN

And the answering services that earned the ten highest scores in the 2019 ATSI Award of Excellence (AoE) are: 

  1. Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
  2. Alphapage, LLC, Denver, CO
  3. Answer – Southern States, Hopkinsville, KY 
  4. Answer Midwest, Inc., Alton, IL
  5. AnswerTel of Athens, Inc., Athens, AL
  6. Carolyn’s Communications Inc., Snellville, GA
  7. Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC
  8. King’s Telephone Answering Services, Shreveport, LA 
  9. Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA 
  10. Rochester Telemessaging Center, Rochester Hills, MI

Congratulations to these fine organizations and all who participated in the AoD and AoE programs this year. You’ll notice that Connections Call Center is on both lists. They earned the highest scores in both programs. [Look for a full list of ATSI AoE winners in the next issue.]


Industry News

Ansercomm Acquires Academy Messaging: Ansercomm announced that they acquired Academy Messaging of Hackensack, NJ. Ansercomm has helped businesses since 1964 with 24/7 answering services serving the United States and Canada. Academy Messaging of Hackensack, NJ is a 60-year-old answering service, giving Ansercomm a third call center location in addition to their Maple Shade, NJ and North Lauderdale, FL operations. Ansercomm president, Anthony Greenfield says, “The acquisition gives us an additional bank of live operators. In today’s digital world, customers still want to speak to a person at some point in the sales and service process, and that’s what we do.”

Szeto Technologies Expands Leadership Team: Szeto Technologies announced that Robert Bidewell and Garrett Bidewell will join the Szeto family as they expand and continue to grow. Robert and Garrett bring over twenty years of collective experience as owners of several thriving answering services in Alberta, Canada. Robert will collaborate with engineers bringing his experiences and know-how with telephony installations and technical skills. Garrett brings his strengths in marketing and business to the company. Szeto Technologies looks forward to working with these new team members and welcomes them to their family.

Amtelco Introduces Genesis Service Level Reports: Amtelco’s Genesis provides reporting on service level statistics for each agent ID, agent ACD skill, agent skill group, and client account. There is also a service level report grouped by interval. Service level reports include color-coded indicators of thresholds that aren’t met or exceeded. Benefits of these reports for the answering service include improved customer satisfaction and better business management.

NAEO Summer Series: The National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) users’ group Summer Series will offer three separate tracks: IS 101 for beginners, IS 102 for intermediate to advanced programming, and a supervisor leadership path. Sessions will run simultaneously from 9-5 each day from Monday, July 29 through Wednesday, July 31 in Atlanta, Georgia. While the IS 101 and 102 tracks are specific to Amtelco software, the leadership track would be beneficial to supervisors and operations managers of answering services and call centers with any equipment. Learn more at https://www.naeo.org/event/2019-summer-series.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” -Hal Borland 

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” –Norman Cousins

“When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.” -unknown