Foreign Exchange Numbers - Appearing Local For Increased Profits
Many businesses want and need to expand their services into additional markets to increase
revenues, but they are not sure of the best way to accomplish it. Do they add another brick and
mortar location and the associated overhead and headaches that come with it? Do they go the
costly route and buy an existing business and take over the customer base while implementing
their proven systems? How do you manage additional staff from afar? Will you need to relocate
some of your top people? One successful method that businesses have implemented over the years to
minimize risk and increase profits is to use numbers.
What is a number?
A number is a local phone number from another market that rings to your market via
different methods. It allows you to have a "local" appearance, while possibly not being "local"
In different markets they will go by different names. Some markets refer to them as RCF or remote
call forward numbers, some call them telebranch numbers, some "out of rate center" numbers, and
some markets refer to them as numbers. All will serve primarily the same function, but not all cost the same.
The primary function of the number is to appear as a local business, even if you do not have a local location in
the market. Clients in many markets prefer to do business with a local vendor, so they look for a
local telephone number. Whether it is accurate or not, the general consensus is that you will
receive superior service and response time from a "local" company vs. the out of area business
that may be hard to get in touch with in a time of need or warranty.
How do customers determine if you are local? Quite simply, they look at your advertised phone
number. Every area or local phone company central office uses a set of NPA-NXX's per central
office that will cover several square miles. NPA-NXX refers to the area code and prefix for your
area. Your town or city may only have one area code and prefix, or it may have hundreds. If it is
hundreds, it may be more important to own numbers than you think.
Check out this tool to test this: www.dslreports.com/coinfo - Enter your area code and prefix,
press enter, scroll down to the bottom, and you will see the name and location of your central
office, along with the associated NPA-NXX's for your area. This is how you know if you will
appear as a local. You can click on neighboring offices to see additional NPA-NXX's that you may
want to acquire. If you test where you live, you will recognize the numbers that are familiar to
you as "local". Your clients are the same. They instinctively know which numbers are local out of
repetition and experience.
Some markets are more liberal with Local Number Portability (LNP) than others, so the "local"
appearance will be more accurate in some markets than others. Either way, this is a very accurate
gauge for what is needed to appear local.
"Would you call a plumber or an electrician from a neighboring city for service?"
You want to increase revenues, and the best way you've determined to do so is to expand your
markets. Your choices seem to be to open up shop in a new area, spend long hours/weeks/months
away from your core successful business, and take a huge financial risk in getting
what is essentially a brand new company off the ground. Is there a better way to do it? Should I
just advertise my business in the next city or two with my current phone number? If you answer
the above question above as "NO", then you are not alone.
Foreign exchange may be right for your business, but it depends on the type of business you have.
If you are a service business, shipping/receiving, sales organization, or any of several other
types of businesses that can be run with short travel times or "in market" professionals,
may be the best route. There are times a Toll Free number will suffice, but many of
your potential customers will still prefer to see a local number.
With foreign exchange, you can order a "local" phone number for your desired market, and have it
ring into your main office location. No ones knows you are not local, but you have the appearance
of being local. You can increase your service area from a few miles to nationwide if desired.
No expensive new buildings with furnishings or additional expenses are required. You have your
existing experienced and trained staff able to skillfully handle all incoming calls, and you
dispatch as needed. Even the smallest contractor can have the appearance of being a
multi-location business, covering several cities, counties, or states. (I've seen a small plumber
with 8 phone numbers on his card, and knew for a fact he worked out of his garage, but the
initial impression I had was one of "Ok, I'm dealing with a professional established company
here.") An operation working out of their garage could have the appearance of being a nationwide
conglomerate with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Dallas just by possessing
telephone numbers in those markets. You could just choose to bring in business from the other
side of town, or possibly the booming new area just a few miles away. The possibilities are as
endless as the imagination, and the cost is extremely minimal for the potential benefit.
Imagine being able to double your business without doubling your overhead. If you have field
technicians in service vans or trucks in other markets running service calls, and they take their
vans home at night as a company perk and your asset protection, and you monitor them all by GPS,
you literally could increase your production ten fold out of the same office with the same or
similar office infrastructure. Compare that to the cost of opening up new facilities in every
Choosing which way to implement your may require some assistance. If you choose the wrong method of delivery, it could make
a tremendous financial difference. With advancements in Voice Over IP, the telecommunications
market has increasingly made this type of feature more affordable and easy to set up. Speak to
your local telecom professional today to see how can benefit your business.
Steve Norris is a Texas based Energy Efficient Electrical Contractor and Independent Telecom
Broker for over 80 carriers nationwide, and specializes in multi-location businesses with
advanced infrastructure needs. Over 90% of his clients are able to implement new technology at
little or no cost with his proprietary TeleTAP solution. Visit him on the web at
http://www.telephoneguru.net and http://www.energyretrofitters.com
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