By Steve Michaels
In today’s market, wealth is created by the ability to add value. Value is added by innovating and implementing new technological methods with creative ideas to enhance the way things are presently done. Discovery is the fuel of competitive advantage and those who are adding value through innovation are becoming rich.
If you are a new investor thinking of starting or buying your own business, look to see what kind of business has a current customer base and a system that has not yet been maximized. You want to look for an investment that generates future transactions over and over again, that are predictable into the future, and would easily adapt to purchasing other products or services relating to its particular industry.
Investments That Generate Future Transactions: Several industries come to mind, but one in particular is the Telephone Answering Service (TAS) industry. Here is a core group of individuals from all walks of life checking in with an answering service every day for their messages. This is a captive audience who receive a monthly statement and who have already bought something once; they are primed to buy a second, third, or fourth time, and soon.
By purchasing an existing business, you would be sitting in the driver’s seat, primed to take full advantage of the enormous potential currently in place through an existing customer base. You have already made your investment. With established good will and loyalty from the previous owner, personnel and equipment in place, it would be simple for you to sell or offer these customers other logical, extended products or services under the confines of this existing company.
The TAS industry began as small “Mom & Pop” businesses that primarily handled emergency calls for the medical profession. It has grown by leaps and bounds by incorporating paging, alarm monitoring, faxing, secretarial services, voice mail, call/fulfillment centers and its latest adjunct, IWR (Interactive Web Response). IWR, now in its infancy, integrates a website with a live operator for all sorts of applications from order taking to instructional guidance. The opportunities are endless in this ever-changing, multi-faceted business that in 1995, billed over $2.4 billion dollars.
What the Smart Entrepreneur Looks For: This industry is finding ways to associate their service with other products or services that complete a process. The smart entrepreneur in a Telemessaging center is looking for opportunities where they may cut costs for a manufacturer by handling their overflow phone traffic during sales promotions or when there is a seasonal boost in sales. They could even become their order taking department.
A simple example would be a small manufacturing company that does not have the time nor labor to take an order and ship their product. As a full Messaging/Fulfillment center, you could offer your client the ability to take the incoming call, process the order, take the credit card information and send out the product. If you are not geared up to do all of these functions, then subcontract the work so that you become their representative and an integral part of their operation.
Another example is a Call Center which is taking recruitment calls for a large corporation that is continually moving into different areas of the country. The company places an ad in the local newspaper, the Center takes the responses then sets up appointments for a manager who is there two days out of the month. This way the employees are in position when the company opens their doors.
Largest Business in Year 2000? – Adult Education: Technology is like a double-edged sword É on one side life becomes easier; but on the other, jobs are being lost to computers which have sped up technology by distributing information at faster-than-light speed. This is why, I believe, that the largest businesses in America by the year 2000 will be those involved with the education of adults. It will naturally carve itself out of the down-sizing of corporate America as people become more and more self-employed. The TAS or Telemessaging industry would be in an opportunistic position to take advantage of this growing change. Why?
It is estimated today that 50% of the people in America change careers, not jobs, every 6 years or more. In the past, you had one job and one career the rest of your life, the average employee changed jobs every 25 to 30 years. But what you learn in college today will be obsolete and antiquated tomorrow because the teachers are not out there practicing and applying this new technology.
In the corporate world, the largest amount of money is spent training people how to use this new technology as it comes out every 6 months to a year. There is a massive amount of adult education out there now, but you just don’t see it because it is wrapped up in something called “management.” More skilled labor is being farmed out due to technological computer advances and advanced telephony that is reducing the cost of transporting information over greater distances.
Corporate America is looking for this trained labor pool. Labor is capital. Trained labor will get them three times the return on the amount they are spending. But how do you find this labor? The biggest factor in unemployment today is not a question of jobs for people, it is locating people for the jobs.
Opportunities Through Affirmative / Employment Centers: Another way that the industry could address this opportunity for itself is to open up Affirmative/Employment centers. There they would solicit the jobs that are available from the employers. By using their existing technology and the Internet, they could post all of the jobs available with a full video description from not only all over the area but literally all over the country. The applicant could then shop for a job via their computer or TV in the near future, once fiber optics are installed.
The same scenario would be true for the individual who is looking for a job. They would simply download their resume and skills to the Affirmative/Employment center for the prospective employer to review.
The smart entrepreneur could lower unemployment and position themselves as a necessary commodity in the community by improving the information flow between people looking for jobs and employers wanting to hire. When you want to hire someone, you want them that day. Think of what the information highway and strategically positioning your TAS business as a Messaging/Job placement center could do for your bottom line.
If the Age of Aquarius began in the 60’s, and the 80’s were the decade of greed, the late 90’s have borrowed traits of both to spawn the Age of the Entrepreneur. Americans are launching start-ups at a frenzied pace, spurred by corporate down sizing, out sourcing, low-cost technology and a bustling economy. About 3.5 million new enterprises from basement workshops to manufacturing plants were formed in 1995, according to a survey by the Washington-based National Federation of Independent Businesses. New business incorporations have doubled over the last 20 years.
In a Word – Innovation: It all comes down to innovation, technology and marketing. Marketing is the vehicle that gives you distinction. In business, you are selling a benefit or result. Whether you like it or not, you area sales and marketing company. It is either done actively or passively.
The marketing and optimization potential of this ever-evolving, synergistic industry is phenomenal. It only takes imagination, today’s ever-changing technology and the will to see into the future to serve this marketplace’s ever-changing needs.
Steve Michaels and TAS Marketing have been serving the TAS industry in the mergers and acquisitions arena for over 23 years with over 220 businesses sold. His years of experience have widened his scope and experience in buying and selling businesses nationwide. He may be contacted at 800-369-6126, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.tasmarketing.com.
[From Connection Magazine – January 1998]