Mergers & Acquisitions. Part 4, Retiring & Neutering phone numbers
As we start the next chapter of our discussion I want to make it clear that one of the key components of operating any business is one that I have not invited to our forum. I am referring to the online heartbeat of any business. The domain(s) and the myriad of ways that emails are disseminated, distributed, and responded to. Whether it be an online portal and manually processed every company has at the very minimum one policy, one network or protocol that works for them. The manner in which we computerize and run a business today will be replaced shortly with systems not even invented yet. The technological end of any enterprise is being reinvented so rapidly that we shall be catching up with it until further notice.
I do not say this as a bad thing. Whenever a new operating system or other product is brought to market it essentially allows one to do more with less while doing it faster and better. Notwithstanding, many mega-influencers and experts are also saying that in the future the retiring baby boomers followed by the Gen Xers and eventually the Millennials will be returning to paper and human phone calls for a majority of products and services because they respect the control an educated consumer requires.
To make matters more complicated, the vehicles we will be slinging in the years to come will also have been completely changed and redesigned for the New World order.
If I told you 15 years from now you would have a fleet of Tribrid units that operate on at least 3 power sources including hydrogen you may think I am crazy.
By the same token, if I suggest the vehicles would have unitized frames with monocoque sub structures which allowed the vehicle to become scalable you would absolutely think I am off my rocker. But the truth is that this is reality. One base unit in the future will be able to support multiple identities, purposes, and numerous retrofits to serve cross over markets.
Growth is good. Change is good. These future fantasies that will become realities is what will propel the ground transportation agency of the future to excel again.
First comes first: we need to level and clear the playing field and combine, acquire, and re-assemble the industry. If I may be so bold, if an enterprise fine tunes and perfects the acquisition process and does it with disciplined regularity it will add new credence to the phrase: “build it and they will come.”
Now as I mentioned previously about domains, they are the front door in most cases of anyone’s business. However, never underestimate the value of the phone number you are purchasing. Nobody can ever place a value on how many phones books, directories, rolodexes, travel guides to which that number still maintains a presence.
A critical component of any merger or takeover is to continue to milk the number dry and then determine the best way to neuter it.
By the way, that process works both ways. Often companies simply shut down and don’t even attempt to sell. Phone number harvesting is a profitable endeavor. Typically after several months in many cases you can acquire that phone number and often for a minimal, if any, cost. When that happens the first thing you want to do is apply some form of firewall on it. By that I mean a cheap voice mail to intercept the calls and encourage people to leave a message. This gives you a feel for the volume and reputation of the previous company.
I once had a client who took over someone’s phone number and the constant barrage of lawyers, bill collectors, and threats were so overwhelming he simply shut the line down.
Phone numbers should never be sent back into circulation until you have certifiable statistical proof that they are harmless or milked dry. Even then I would maintain control through a variety of ways. Two of my favorites are Textnow and Evoice.
Textnow is unique because you can use a retired cell phone, port the newly acquired number to them and it will be assigned to that retired phone. It only works with Wi-Fi access and it costs nothing because it is ad based. In order to maintain the service you have to make or take at least 1 call or text per month. The ideal program is the phone rings to it and the voice mail announces your new number. All set and you can see a report monthly on your volume.
Evoice does have a nominal low monthly charge. You can port up to 5 numbers to it and get detailed volume reports monthly to see what is happening.
After the second or third month based on data you may want to redeploy the number to best suit your needs.
Many operators believe it is best to funnel all lines to their main phone and not play these games. I assure you, one of the main things that annoy customers is when they think they are being played. They do not understand all the nuances involved in getting them to call to begin with. If they call 3 companies and get the same person they will lose trust and faith. Remember only the mother ship should be 24/7 live. Virtual speed bumps add intrinsic value to that unit especially on impulse calls.
In closing, remember once the client calls you, you are already at second base. They have become a captive audience. Sell, seal and deliver.