The November 2014 Issue of TAS Trader


Management by Walking Around

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Many small business owners, including TAS owners, use the simple yet effective management style of “management by walking around.” They manage what they see. However, to be effective the manager must be physically present. If the manager can’t be around on a regular basis, the results are often disastrous, producing either micromanagement or mismanagement that can thwart growth, hamper quality, and limit profitability.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Most TAS owners work hard to grow their business. Regardless of their management style, this growth is generally workable when it occurs under the same roof. However, problems can crop up when a single location TAS adds a second site or acquires a geographically removed competitor.

Management by walking around works great for an active owner in one location, but not two or more. It’s impossible to successfully use management by walking around for multiple sites. Only the location where the manager is present will be “managed,” with other locations left to themselves. This is especially true for service businesses such as answering services.

The solution is simple, albeit difficult. Quite simply a change in management style is required. Either the owner must adapt to a new way of doing things or find someone else who can – and then give him or her space to do the job. However, this often is uncomfortable for an entrepreneur used to putting his or her mark on everything that happens and making all the decisions. Such is the challenge of growing a business!

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. Check out his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.

How to Use a Unique Message to Make Selling Easier

By Arthur Cronos

When the market you target, the message you present, and the media channels you select come together, sales blossom. Many business owners skip targeting a specific market and ignore unique media channels where no competition exists, instead focusing on writing an advertisement or a website. They read what other people say and copy that. And they sound exactly like everyone else. Their ads and website say, “Yeah! We’re another one! Except we’re better! Just like everyone else!” There is absolutely no reason a prospect would choose their company.

You can do so much better. After you’ve carefully consider what market you’ll target and what media channels you’ll use to reach that market, consider how to position your company as unique. This is your “unique selling proposition.”

Once upon a time, a young man opened a pizza shop next to a college campus, where high-metabolism young people love junk food and get the munchies. Thinking about what this target market might value most, getting a pizza fast would be the most important thing to them – not imported ingredients, not the most delicious pizza, but the fastest pizza.

Thirty years later, we still remember the unique selling proposition of Domino’s Pizza: “Pizza, delivered fresh and hot to your door within thirty minutes or it’s free.”

In the early days of the women’s liberation movement, the Virginia Slims cigarette company concocted a powerful message that appealed strongly to that particular market: “You’ve come a long way, baby.” It wasn’t designed to appeal to Camel-smoking mechanics or hoity-toity Benson & Hedges smokers. It uniquely positioned Virginia Slims for a particular young adult, female market.

United Airlines, addressing travelers who feared air travel, created the perfect reassuring message: “Fly the Friendly Skies.”

Market, media, and message: Make each of them strong, working in unison, and you’ll stand alone in your own marketplace, with no competition and in demand, at whatever price you deem appropriate.

Concocting a unique selling proposition can be tricky, but when you succeed, you become the only company in the world like that. And when you’re unique, you need not compete – because there is no competition.

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.

Telephone Answering Service News

More on the Successful ASTAA Supervisor Workshop
The ASTAA two-day supervisor workshop, “An Adventure Is Going to Happen,” with assistance from Winnie-the-Pooh, was the second in a series of three workshops designed specifically for supervisors and middle-level employees. The reviews lived up to those of the first workshop and encouraged ASTAA to commit to a third seminar.

Donna West

In the workshop, “we looked at how to correct people so that they learn without harboring resentment,” explained presenter Donna West. “We covered showing real appreciation…and the importance of allowing numbers help define the goals you want to reach. I believe our attendees left with enthusiasm for their jobs and for the things they wanted to accomplish when they returned to their offices. Most importantly, they believed they could make the changes they wanted to see. We gave them tools to do the job.”

“I thought it was a great seminar,” said Gary A. Edwards, Edwards Answering Service. Days later his staff members were still “bubbling over with enthusiasm. They picked two items from the seminar that we are going to tackle immediately.”

Drew Ritter, owner and president of Advantage TeleMessaging, sent three people to the workshop. “All three of them really enjoyed the conference,” and when they returned, they pelted him with ideas for improvements. “It’s so nice to see the team get excited about their careers.”

“This workshop was spot on,” said Joan Smith. It was “perfect for our supervisors.”

ASTAA will repeat this workshop in the spring and is planning a third one in 2016.

TAS Marketing Commits to the Personal Touch
Offering the personal touch is key to running a successful TAS. “A customer is not a cog in the wheel but a real person who deserves personalized service,” says TAS Marketing’s Steve Michaels. And the personal touch is what Steve and Chris Michaels offer clients who sell their answering service through TAS Marketing. “I am there for them no matter what,” said Steve. This handholding approach has been successful for Steve and Chris, who have served 465 business owners since 1979. Their personal touch includes offering an attorney-written non-compete, solicit, and disclosure agreement to any owner who does not have one in place with their agents. They do a business valuation, provide a listing sheet along with a financial package so that prospective buyers can make a quick decision; all closing documents are included.

Professional Teledata Welcomes Daniel Leis and Johnathan Socha
Daniel Leis and Johnathan Socha recently joined Professional Teledata. “Daniel and Johnathan bring vitality and perspective to their positions that fit perfectly with our vision for the future at Professional Teledata,” said Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata. “They both understand what we are all about. Their military backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences make them the perfect additions to our telephony team.” Daniel’s duties include the technical support of customers for both PInnacle and telephony, while Johnathan’s duties include configuration support and troubleshooting the eQueue, eConn, and Millennium phone switches for both premises based and hosted (Freedom) networks.

Amtelco Enhances Infinity Web Chat
Amtelco recently enhanced its Infinity Web chat to improve the customer experience and provide a tighter integration with Intelligent Series (IS) message scripting. Highlights of the new interface include an improved user experience with user link and popup window, an improved operator interface, and modernized chat bubbles. An IS Web script can be used to guide the agent through the chat, push text into the chat, and retrieve the text of the chat to save it in an IS message.

The Tom Ryan Award Goes to Gary Darychuk
Gary Darychuk of Directors’ Choice in St. John, NB, received the 2014 Tom Ryan Award for Ethics, Integrity, and Quality Above All. Gary accepted the honor at the 50th Annual CAM-X Convention and Trade Show. The award is presented annually in memory of Tom Ryan, a pioneer in the telephone message industry. Upon receiving the award, Gary said, “Being recognized for my ethics, integrity, and quality of service by CAM-X and its members, whom I admire and respect so much, is, in a word, overwhelming. Having so many previous honorees present, from whom I have learned so much, provided for a remarkable evening.”

Telescan Online Technical Certification
The latest Telescan Level 2 technical certification class was held on October 20–23. The new online version of Level 2 brings a great set of benefits to Telescan Spectrum owners, including system and server knowledge and additional support discounts. Level 2 technical certification is available to all Level 1 certified Spectrum sites.

Main Line Telecommunications Repeats Gold Certification
Main Line Telecommunications has re-qualified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award. Main Line was the first call center certified for the Amtelco Infinity platform and NAEO Users Group, having first earned the honor in October 2011. The ATSI-sponsored certification indicates Main Line has met or exceeded high standards in the areas of business practices, life safety, operations (including normal and emergency procedures), personnel hiring, training, and ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing on 99.9 percent annual run time.

Quotes for the Month

“Mistakes are part of the dues that one pays for a full life.” –Sophia Loren

“I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” –H.B. Swope

“A calendar’s days are numbered.” unknown

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[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for TAS Trader.]