By Peter DeHaan
A likely factor is that the second generation, who didn’t sacrifice to launch the business and see it through the lean, early years, lacks the resilience to persevere. Another reason is that problems occur if parents hand the business over too quickly to adult children who still lack experience.
Some entrepreneurial parents attempt to avoid these problems by making their successor children start at an entry-level position and work their way up the organization. But this fast-track status often backfires, causing resentment from non-relative staff who may be more qualified, better educated, or have longer tenure.
To circumvent this, some founders require their children to earn a college degree and put in time at another firm to learn essential skills before joining the family business. Although this approach offers the greatest chance for success, it’s not a sure-fire strategy.
Regardless, if your goal is to pass your TAS to your children, be intentional about it and plan. Don’t leave business succession to chance, or you may end up like the majority of family-owned businesses that fail to successfully pass the baton to the kids.
How to Use Smart Market Selection to Make Selling Easier
By Arthur Cronos
Powerful sales happen within a congruence of the market you target, the message you present, and the media used to reach out. Each of these three marketing factors affords opportunities to make you unique. And when you’re unique, you don’t have to compete.
Tiffany’s doesn’t need to compete with Kay’s Jewelers. Trader Joe’s doesn’t need to compete with Costco. Holiday Inn doesn’t worry about competing with the Waldorf Astoria.
You get to choose the market you’ll pursue. Many of us (including me) have made the mistake of trying to appeal to everybody and wound up sounding like every other answering service, offering nothing different and leaving us with little to offer except slashed prices, free service, and unsupported claims of “we’re the best.” Try to appeal to everybody, and you appeal to nobody in particular.
Consider Costco. Do they appeal to everyone? Nope. They’re designed for larger families with moderate incomes. On the other hand, Trader Joe’s is designed for smaller, often single-person households. Does Trader Joe’s try to carry all the sizes and brands of Costco? No.
As a simple example, some of your clients have “patients,” others have “clients,” and still others have “customers.” So how do you write an advertisement that sounds right to everyone? You can’t. But you can create an offering targeting one specific niche.
This works in other industries. Nocona Boots has a particular niche customer; they don’t try to sell Italian loafers. Starbucks aims at a particular customer, and they don’t sell cheeseburgers. Chanel doesn’t sell cheap perfume. McDonalds doesn’t sell any dinners with elegant china, silverware, candles, and tux-clad waiters. If narrowly targeting a niche market works for Nocona Boots, Starbucks, Chanel, and McDonalds, why wouldn’t it work for you?
Count all your clients by occupation, and then analyze how profitable each niche is, how many clients you have, how easily they buy, and how much you like them. Next, pick a niche you’d like to expand, and aim a marketing program at this market. Cold call them. Send direct mail. Get testimonials from your clients in this niche; ask them for referrals. Each business owner knows many other business owners on a first-name basis.
When you focus and target, you’ll begin using specific language, the language of that niche. Suddenly you sound brighter and better, more understanding and caring to that niche. It wasn’t because you claimed, “We care”; it’s because you are using the language of your target market.
Next month, we will consider developing a unique message that sounds different from everybody else’s.
Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.
NAEO 2014 IS Summer Series Recap
NAEO’s 2014 IS summer series was once again a huge success, with nearly fifty in attendance. The workshop was broken into two day-and-a-half-long sessions and came with a step-by-step workbook.
The first day focused on the beginner’s skills, covering the basics of IS. Topics included the creation of a new account, shared fields, information pages, call flow, and flow-charting. The rest of the day delved into the heart of the program and scripted a basic account from scratch. The first half of the second day took that basic script and added some more advanced actions, including list branches, email and faxing, time of day “if” statements, and screen modes.
The second half of the seminar focused on contact-based architecture. Attendees started on day two with building a contact-based directory from scratch. They then took that basic script and added features to turn it into a contact-based dispatching script.
The education committee thanks Amtelco for their support and for sending two of their trainers, Susan Kirkpatrick and John VanWalsum, to assist with the seminar. The committee also thanks Debbie Imes of Advantage Answering Plus, Michael Goumas of ProComm, and Theran Mossholder of Newtown & Flemington Answering Service for their time and expertise at this year’s seminar. Finally, they thank all committee members who made the event possible.
Telephone Answering Service News
October Webinar: Mastering SEO to Increase Sales and Improve Profitability
The next webinar from Profit Jet Webinars, scheduled for October 21 at 1:00 p.m. (PDT), is “How to Stand Out in the Search Results and Drive Qualified Customers to Your Website.” It will address how SEO (search engine optimization) can help your business reach buyers and boost sales. Learn the keys to understanding what makes Google “tick,” including:
- Proven on-page and off-page strategies
- Why you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand SEO
- Using SEO to be found by qualified prospects who want what you have to sell
- How to use SEO to gain online visibility and increase profitability
Webinars are the third Tuesday of each month. They cover traditional and online marketing methods with a profit-boosting twist. Visit http://profitjetwebinars.com for the schedule and to request webinar notification. There is no cost to attend.
Telescan Training Goes Online
Telescan’s popular Level 1 Technical Training moved to the Internet earlier this year. The TUNe/Telescan joint training program began in 2010 with classroom training. This summer’s two-day online course had more than thirty attendees and a 100 percent pass rate for the Level 1 certification exam on day three. Congratulations to the trainees.
TAS Marketing Announces Year-to-Date Sales
So far this year, several TASs have been sold by TAS Marketing:
- Bay Area Answering Service, Houston, Texas. JR Patterson sold to Steve and Vonda Tackett of Rite Response.
- Answer Network, Inc., Carpentersville, Illinois. Bob Shields sold to Marty and JC Tibbitts from Citadel Contact Systems Inc.
- TeleSpectrum Communications, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota. Lisa Bortnem-Wiser sold to Pete Hainey from Customer Elation.
- A Communications Link, Azusa, California. Vicky Chavez sold to Doug Lindsey from A Better Answer.
- Custom Communications, Inc., Livermore, California. Keith Benton sold to Roger Roberge and Shamess Twardy of Excel TeleMessaging, Inc.
This is a partial list; some buyers or sellers requested nondisclosure.
Successful ASTAA Supervisor Workshop Sparks Plans for More
The two-day ASTAA supervisor workshop, “An Adventure Is Going to Happen,” with assistance from Winnie-the-Pooh, was the second in a series of three workshops for supervisors and middle-level TAS employees. “This workshop was about the relationship between supervisors and agents; it was completely different than the first workshop in the series,” explained Donna West. The first workshop, “You Can Move Mountains,” with advice from Dr. Seuss, introduced supervisors to concepts they may not have thought about before. ASTAA will repeat this workshop next spring. They plan a third workshop in spring 2016, concentrating on the role supervisors play in customer satisfaction.
Quotes for the Month
“Once you label me you negate me.” —Soren Kierkegaard
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” —Charles Spurgeon
“He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.” —Unknown
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mastar.com TAS systems: Get Free 3:1 Emergency Remote TAS on a Memory Stick; email/text/TAP; app optional run on iPads. Contact Rod at 541-606-9272 or email@example.com.
CAM-X 2014 Award of Excellence Winners
TAS Trader and Connections Magazine salute the 2014 CAM-X Award of Excellence Winners. The award is cumulative, with many answering services earning this recognition for many years. The complete list of this year’s honorees are:
- Bennett Telephone Answering Service, Flint, MI
- Call 4 Health, Boca Raton, FL
- Nationwide Inbound Inc., Freeport, IL
- Carolyn’s Communications Incorporated, Snellville, GA
- Infinity Telecentre, London, ON
- AnswerPlus Montreal, Montreal, QC
- Combined Communications, Inc., Bowling Green, KY
- TigerTel Montreal & Quebec, Montreal, QC
- Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., West Reading, PA
- Monroe Telephone, Beaumont, TX
- A Better Answer, Hurst, TX
- A Better Answer, Plano, TX
- A Better Answer, Houston, TX
- TigerTel Alberta, Calgary, AB
- TigerTel London, London, ON
- AAMCOM, Redondo Beach, CA
- Com Net, LLC, Muncie, IN
- Answer Plus, Inc., Las Vegas, NV
- Callnet Call Center, Bloomington, IN
- Commercial Telephone Exchange, Reno, NV
- TAS-Page Communications, Peterborough, ON
- TigerTel Nanaimo, Nanaimo, BC
- Advanced Answering, Manchester, TN
- Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI
- Call Experts, Charleston, SC
- TigerTel Vancouver, BC
- Always On Call Answering Service LLC, Concord, NH
- AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
- Keystone Answering Service, Levittown, PA
- Alert Communications, Ventura, CA
- Allgood Communications, Inc., Pueblo, CO
- Dexcomm, Carencro, LA
- Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
- TigerTel Richmond, Richmond, BC
- Directors’ Choice, Saint John, NB
- Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
- Anser, Green Bay, WI
- On Call Centre Inc., Ottawa, ON
- Direct Line Teleresponse, Berkeley, CA
- Keener Communications, Inc., Richmond, VA
- Scotia Business Centre, Bridgewater, NS
- The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL
- Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
- TigerTel Oshawa, Oshawa, ON
- Answer 365, Halifax, NS
- Focus Telecommunications Inc., Eldersburg, MD
- Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ
- Telelink, St. John’s, NL
- Encore TeleSolutions , Barrie, ON
- Central Communications, Welland, ON
- Select Call Centre, Calgary, AB
- Select Call Centre, Red Deer, AB
- Intercon Messaging Inc., Drayton Valley, AB
- Kelcom, Windsor, ON
- Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
- Select Call Centre, Grande Prairie, AB
- Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
- AnswerPlus Toronto, Toronto, ON
- Select Call Centre, Edmonton, AB
- Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC
- Northern Communication Services Inc., Sudbury, ON
- Image-24, Montreal, QC
- A.S. Communications, Belleville, ON
- Teleconnect International, Wetaskiwin, AB
- AnswerPlus Hamilton, Hamilton, ON
- SureCall Contact Centers, Calgary, AB
- @liveconx, Cornwall, ON