We had a great Thanksgiving in 1986

Vlog 16 v.5

We had a great Thanksgiving in 1986  pixie dust

Keyword: telemarketing

We had our first big telemarketing client all lined up for Thanksgiving weekend in 1986; I was super excited! 

At that time in my life, I handled most EVERYTHING.  My partner, Dave, still worked for someone else during the day.  He would come in at night and he would help set up the phone numbers for the system to call (need better wording )  once someone entered Start Calling.  automated

Promoting The Taures With Telemarketing

The first big telemarketing client was a local Ford dealership who wanted to push one of their new models: the Taures.  

DA Remember that? DA  

My idea was to call people up and invite them to take a test drive.  If they did, we would give them a free dinner-for-two at local Italian restaurant.  I spoke the owner of the restaurant into giving the meals to the Ford dealership in return for FREE promotion of his restaurant.  After all, we would be mentioning his restaurant to about 15,000 local residences over this long weekend. He believed my projection of giving me (50) $35 gift certificates.

DA  Remember, the year was 1986, so $35 dollars went a long way! DA 

This was a win-win for both small businesses.

The telemarketing machine was booted up on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the same day the phone bill from Pacific Bell arrived.  Prominently displayed on the first page of the enclosed newsletter was a notice to all Californians.  “If you receive a pre-recorded message on your telephone, call the Public Utilities Commission at xxx-xxxx.”  These machines, called ADRMPs (automatic dialing something, something, something)  

DA I used to know, but I forgot DA 

were illegal in California! ….Only a handful of those telemarketing phoned called the PUC, …but a larger handful called our client!  It was fine for him …because he always liked to try new things.

Our Win-Win

Our win-win ….turned into angry-angry.  Even with that, they sold 11 cars…due to the promotion… over the long weekend.  A successful program that we could never do again. Good ROI, horrible PR.

And about that “running for FREE” thing.  Not in California.  At the time in California, businesses were charged for EVERY telemarketing call they made….to anywhere.  Not a big deal, but  when you are charging $8 per hour and your phone bill is $7 per hour, there is not much room for profit.  We didn’t know about these charges until I received our first real phone bill. 

DA Again, that due diligence thing DA  

I fell out of my uncomfortable ….chair. Dave, my partner, ran the numbers.  At that  rate, if we ran the unit 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, we would only lose about $2000 per month, if we didn’t pay ourselves…. anything!!! 

That was the problem.  We couldn’t do these programs anymore at that price.   With the PacBell memo ….and charging $8 per hour for our calling, the handwriting was on the wall. 

So what did we do? We did the next best thing: we hired real people to make the calls.  Yes, our costs would increase  

DA paying people, additional rent, and all the expenses we never imagined DA

but we could charge A LOT more.  After all, telemarketing worked!

This was the start of TBS Marketing Services.

DA Want to hear more?  Stay Tuned for my next Video blog.

Don’t buy phone equipment from a man named Paul…




Blog 15 v5

A long, long  time ago, I worked for a startup with David Hans. It became clear that it was slowly… going under.  I was looking for a change where I could work with as few people as possible.

An ad in Success Magazine sparked my interest…so I called them up.

I called and spoke with the President, Paul and he  introduced this fabulous piece of technology to me: It was truly state of the art –

 DA Not when we purchased it in 1986,…but it WAS when it was first designed… 8 years earlier. DA

It was powered by a Tandy TRS-80 with 8k (that right, K, not gigabyte) of RAM and a dual 400k floppy system

When we started the company in 1986, we were unprepared for what was to come in the next 14 years. It started in a small, 3 room office above a Dominos pizza, next to the luxurious adult book store in downtown Hayward, California.  In one room was a folding table, am uncomfortable chair,  2 line phone system, the yellow pages, and… me.   In the other room was the machine that would quickly make us rich, with minimal effort. 

This beauty… would automatically call people on the phone and the cassette player would play them a pre-recorded message . When they answered, and it would record their response…. Even better, it would call, 5 people at a time!  That’s right, just like the ad stated, it was like “having 5 full time telemarketers who never got tired.  The last call of the day would be delivered with the same enthusiasm as the first.”  And every call would be consistent. But the best part: we could do it without ANY employees! We could just add machines …as we grew. 

Paul told us that they only produced a limited amount, so we would need to put our orders in soon if we wanted to ensure the next unit.

It was really hot….  AND cheap to run.  That’s where the money thing came in.  Once our minimal monthly expenses were covered, the rest would be PROFIT.  The thing ran for FREE! 

If you are like most humans, you probably hate those computer calls. Yes, the calls were consistent;… but consistently annoying to everyone who answered the phone.  

But I was so swept with the possibilities, I ignored good sense and invested $25,000….site unseen… from an advertisement I saw in SUCCESS Magazine.  Sure, we spoke to the President of the company before plunking down the cash ….borrowed from my poor widowed mother.  Our due diligence was lacking (ok, non-existent)….but who cared, because we were getting “exclusive rights to Alameda County, California”. We had to “make a decision in a 2 weeks because other people were starting to inquire about the same territory.”  So the “takeaway close” worked on me… once again.  After all, if we didn’t act now, we would lose out on this opportunity…forever.

Yes, they did sell out all the counties in Northern California.  ….And then the company …disappeared.  

DA All the support they promised, the clients they would bring us,…gone

DA  the upgrades, the marketing…gone

DA  the advertising and the revenue… gone.  

It didn’t matter…because we KNEW what we were doing.

Want to hear more?  Stay tuned