Use abandoned phone numbers to boost remodeling business

Using abandoned phone numbers can help remodelers pick up business from companies that have closed down

September 30, 2009

Doug Dwyer,
DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen president

The first thought most business owners have when they hear the term "acquisition" is money. They think it takes a large financial investment to get the job done. While this can be the case when purchasing a well-run, profitable business, some companies are not that viable.

There are many types of acquisition strategies, but here's one often ignored: acquiring abandoned phone numbers. Using the same phone number that an out-of-business contractor in your niche previously used can be a quick and easy way to get extra calls.

I use the term "acquisition" generally to discuss a way to leverage a closed business to grow your market share and to generate new qualified leads and business.

Usually, the core goal of an acquisition is to increase customer calls. Because of this goal, one of the most valuable assets a company has is its published phone number — the number customers and business associates call on a regular basis.

Many companies with great reputations have closed. Even during a normal year, thousands of remodeling companies go out of business. Many of them don't attempt to sell anything — including their phone number — by rationalizing that if the business failed, no one would want to buy anything related to it.

Even when businesses close and sell everything, most simply abandon their most valuable asset: the repeat business that comes from their phone number. These are low-risk, low-cost and high-return situations.

Considerations

Some business owners are afraid to pick up abandoned numbers, especially if the previous company filed bankruptcy. They fear that bill collectors or upset customers who call will give them a bad name. If the company closed, you will get some of these calls. But generally speaking, unless you purchased the company stock, the liability of past bills and warranty calls is not your responsibility. When clients of the previous company do call, you have the option of offering them your services at a reduced cost if work was not completed. This gives them an alternative they didn't have otherwise. (It's a judgment call as to whether they are a client you are willing to and can work with successfully. Consult your attorney before implementing this strategy.)


Using the same phone number that an out-of business contractor in your niche previously used can be a quick and easy way to get extra calls.

If a business phone number is disconnected, many phone companies will hold the disconnected number for up to a year, in case the business is re-established. In this instance, the only way you will get the number is to have the previous owner transfer it to you. Why would they do this? The relationship or money. How much is a number worth? It depends on how many customers you expect to gain, the closed company's size and how long the number has been disconnected. The longer a number is stagnant, the less likely customers will call it. We know someone who paid $500 for two phone numbers from a company that had been in business for more than 80 years. The first job landed from that acquisition was for $10,000 — easily justifying the purchase.

How to get Started

Start by calling numbers from current phone directories. You'll be surprised by how many companies go out of business while the phone directory is still active. Also, research phone directories from three to five years prior. Consumers not only keep phone books but also invoices, stickers and other materials from the closed company, increasing the likelihood those numbers will continue to be called.

If you stop and think about it, you may know someone who has closed his or her business. You could create a win-win-win situation for them, you and consumers by acquiring the outdated phone number. This is an opportunity that could strengthen your business and, in a way, keep the legacy and hard work of the previous owner alive.


Author Information
Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at doug.dwyer@dreammakerbk.com.

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