By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Most telephone answering services are small businesses with closely held ownerships. Even many larger ones are still privately held, while a few are public companies or part of a public company. Regardless of size and structure, all answering services must plan for the future. Interestingly, their core concerns are essentially the same.
They all must look to the future, with the present in mind, and consider what overarching strategy they will pursue. There are three primary paths:
- Develop the TAS: The common solution is to continue to develop the business. Considerations include investing in infrastructure, pursuing controlled growth, seeking competitive advantages, controlling costs without sacrificing quality, and increasing revenue without irritating clients. Often all of these are simultaneously pursued to varying degrees.
- Sell the TAS: Sometimes selling a TAS is necessary because it is unprofitable and possesses no reasonable chance for a turnaround. However, most times selling is a calculated decision. Reasons include the owner’s retirement, no one able to take over the business, or the owner leaving to pursue other interests, such as family, charitable work, or other businesses that are more appealing or have greater profitability.
- Buy Other TASs: Answering services can enjoy an economy of scale, where larger operations are more efficient and can generate higher profits. Though a TAS should already be in good shape before looking to buy another one, there is another possibility. It is feasible for two struggling answering services to unite – through either a merger or an acquisition – with their combined sizeable to become profitable.
Wise owners periodically re-evaluate their future plans. They don’t follow what everyone else is doing; they do what’s right for them and their business. There is no right answer, but it’s important to seriously ask the question. Not asking is the best way to flounder.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his books How to Start a Telephone Answering Service and Sticky Customer Service.