Looking for Good Ideas among Well-intended Misfires
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Many years ago in another industry, my boss shared his grand suggestion to save money and boost productivity. It was insightful but had a critical flaw that would render it unworkable. He was enough removed from the day-to-day workings of our operation that he was unaware of the hole in his logic.
As the TAS industry continues to consolidate, investment comes from the outside. These folks have their own grand ideas of how they will save money and boost productivity. Most all of the time they are wrong. Their ideas are not realistic and may not even be feasible, but they lack the intimate, practical, day-to-day knowledge to realize that.
Notice I said “most of the time.” This means that occasionally outsiders bring a truly innovative idea into the TAS industry. But if we’re not careful we will dismiss it as being ill conceived, despite their good intentions.
The key is to keep an open mind, to not hold our time-proven SOP (standard operating procedure) as sacrosanct. This is easier to say than to do. But just because we’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean we can’t find a better method to do it, a means to save money or boost productivity. So we must respectfully consider an outsider’s plan to change our ways – they just may be right.
However, those on the outside looking in must balance their great ideas with the seasoned pragmatism of insiders. After all, most of the time we will be right.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mastar.com…for in/outbound stand-alone TAS systems since 1986. Startup as low as $1,500 per station and you own it. Contact 541-606-9272 or email@example.com
Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Handle Embezzlement in the Family Business
By Lois Lang
While embezzlement starts small and often innocently in a family business, it can quickly escalate to something big that damages the business, hurts non-family employee morale, and breaks family trust.
What do you do when you realize a family member is embezzling? Taking a cautious, thoughtful, respectful approach is wise. To begin, meet with key leaders, without the suspect family member present, to address the following questions:
- Do we have clear, hard, verifiable facts before we assume fault and intent?
- Who will be at the meeting to lay the facts out?
- Are we going to involve the legal system?
- If we continue employment with this family member, do we need to change their job position?
- How will we communicate this with the rest of the family? Employees? The board?
- Did the company contribute to this problem? If so, what steps will we take to prevent it in the future?
- Did the family contribute to this problem? If so, what steps will we take to prevent it in the future?
- Has this family member had chronic, known financial problems?
- How can we protect the company from future embezzlement or misuse of company assets?
- How do we protect the whistleblower?
- Do we have an internal whistleblower program? Do employees know about it?
- Do we talk openly in Family Council about our responsibility to financially protect and care for company assets? Do we give specific examples of what is and is not allowed?
- Do we have a non-compete clause in our employment contract or handbook if we have to fire the family member?
- Do we consistently run a professional background check on applicants?
- What preparation is needed to walk the family member out the door? Consider computer security, locks, passwords, current company asset retrieval, bank account access, social media tracking, final paycheck, etc.
- Do we need to involve the corporate attorney, board, outside legal attorney, CPA, business psychologist?
Once you’re clear on these aspects, it’s time for the second meeting, this one with the suspect family member. Keep the meeting at the level of discovery. Lay out the facts, and ask the family member their perception of what happened. Listen to what he or she says and how it’s communicated. It’s common for family members not to realize they are embezzling. If this is a first offense and if the embezzlement is not excessive, training may be the best option. However, if the family member knew it was wrong or the embezzlement is substantial, termination may be the only option.
Ask, “What would I do if this wasn’t a family member?” and “Is this at a level where I will be able to trust him or her again?” Your answers to these two questions will reveal a lot about your best action plan.
Lois Lang is a consultant with Evolve Partner Group, LLC where she helps organizations become high performance workplaces.
Telephone Answering Service News
Startel and Pulsar360 Announce Strategic Partnership
Startel Corporation announced a strategic partnership with Pulsar360, a telecommunication solutions provider to small and mid-size organizations. Pulsar360 provides tens of thousands of SIP trunks, DIDs, and toll free numbers to more than 80 TAS customers. As part of the partnership, the companies have successfully completed interoperability testing of the Startel soft switch with Pulsar360’s telecommunication services. Together, Startel and Pulsar360 can deliver comprehensive voice, data, and contact center solutions to the TAS marketplace and their joint customers. “Like Startel, Pulsar360 is a service-oriented company focused on helping its clients realize their business objectives,” said Michael Dozier, president of Pulsar360.
Professional Teledata Announces Commercial Grade SMS Solution
Professional Teledata announced its enhanced short message service solution, PInnacle Cloud SMS, a commercial grade solution developed for high-volume, high-availability usage requirements. The PInnacle cloud SMS solution enables users to communicate with clients faster and with higher throughput via text messaging by maintaining direct connections to major wireless carriers that are not subject to rate limits, monthly usage thresholds, or cell towers. Now PInnacle Cloud SMS users can exchange messages each month without worrying about service interruptions or rate limits. Key features include: 100 percent software-based, fully redundant, built-in disaster recovery, and comprehensive reporting.
TAS Marketing Announces “Shared Profit Plan”
Large TAS buyers do not want to bother with smaller operations, but Steve Michaels has found a way around this, allowing smaller TASs to get higher multiples. He has spearheaded a “shared profit plan.” Michaels combines the billing of smaller answering services to get to that sweet spot larger buyers are looking for: at least $100,000 in billing per month. Then the multiple goes up for everyone. All sellers’ information will be kept private so they will not know who the other sellers’ are – just the buyer. Contact Steve Michaels at 800-369-6126 or email@example.com.
MedCom Earns Gold Call Center Re-Certification
MedCom Professional Services, Inc dba Keystone Answering Service has received the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award from ATSI for the 16th year in a row. “Keystone was the first site to be certified under this program in 2001” said Dan L’Heureux after completing the on-site inspection. He noted that “Keystone has passed certification review an unprecedented six times including two major platform changes and a facility move and through it all has retained the distinction of Certificate #1.” There are currently twenty sites certified in North America.
WSTA Announces Winter Conference @ Sea
WSTA Winter Conference @ Sea, Miracle – Mexican Riviera, departs Long Beach on Jan 29, 2017 and returns Feb 4, 2017. The schedule is:
01/29/2017, Sunday, Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA, 4:30 P.M.
01/30/2017, Monday, Fun Day at Sea
01/31/2017, Tuesday, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, 9:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
02/01/2017, Wednesday, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.
02/02/2017, Thursday, Fun Day at Sea
02/03/2017, Friday, Fun Day at Sea
02/04/2017, Saturday, Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA, 9:00 A.M.
Send us your TAS articles and news for consideration in the next issue.
Quotes for the Month
“A man is known by the company he keeps. A company is known by the men it keeps.” -Thomas J. Watson
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” -Will Rogers
“I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.” -unknown