The October 2014 Issue of TAS Trader


The Next Generation: Successfully Passing Your TAS to Your Kids

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

The majority of family businesses aren’t successfully transferred to the second generation, and only about 15 percent make it to the third. There are many theories why.

Author Peter Lyle 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.

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 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

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

Classified Ads

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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:

One Year

  • Bennett Telephone Answering Service, Flint, MI
  • Call 4 Health, Boca Raton, FL
  • Nationwide Inbound Inc., Freeport, IL
  • Carolyn’s Communications Incorporated, Snellville, GA

Two Years

  • Infinity Telecentre, London, ON
  • AnswerPlus Montreal, Montreal, QC
  • Combined Communications, Inc., Bowling Green, KY

Three Years

  • 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

Four Years

  • 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

Five Years

  • TAS-Page Communications, Peterborough, ON
  • TigerTel Nanaimo, Nanaimo, BC
  • Advanced Answering, Manchester, TN
  • Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI

Seven Years

  • 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

Eight Years

  • TigerTel Richmond, Richmond, BC
  • Directors’ Choice, Saint John, NB
  • Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
  • Anser, Green Bay, WI

Nine Years

  • 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

Ten Years

  • Answer 365, Halifax, NS
  • Focus Telecommunications Inc., Eldersburg, MD
  • Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ

Eleven Years

  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL

Twelve Years

  • Encore TeleSolutions , Barrie, ON
  • Central Communications, Welland, ON
  • Select Call Centre, Calgary, AB
  • Select Call Centre, Red Deer, AB

Fourteen Years

  • Intercon Messaging Inc., Drayton Valley, AB
  • Kelcom, Windsor, ON

Fifteen Years

  • Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
  • Select Call Centre, Grande Prairie, AB

Sixteen Years

  • Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON

Seventeen Years

  • AnswerPlus Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • Select Call Centre, Edmonton, AB
  • Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC

Eighteen Years

  • Northern Communication Services Inc., Sudbury, ON
  • Image-24, Montreal, QC
  • A.S. Communications, Belleville, ON

Nineteen Years

  • Teleconnect International, Wetaskiwin, AB

Twenty Years

  • AnswerPlus Hamilton, Hamilton, ON

Twenty-two Years

  • SureCall Contact Centers, Calgary, AB

Twenty-five Years

  • @liveconx, Cornwall, ON

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