Unfair share of the market?
A British makeover studio chain chose to feature in a release issued by its telephone systems supplier on April 8th – only three days after being blasted in the press for personal mobile phone referral marketing tactics.
Doubletake Studios, with five multi-studio operations in major cities, reckons to do makeovers and glamourous portrait shoots of over 7,000 women a year – targeting the 18-30 age group, and cleverly using Facebook where images are shown off and ‘tagged’ by friends, as the motivation for their prospects to hand over credit card details for a booking.
On the face of it, Facebook has driven this chain’s business through the roof and they are planning to expand into India and China. But the method they use for securing leads, asking their sitters to pass on lists of friends’ mobile phone numbers, gets major criticism in this article:
Only three days after this appeared, an internet news network sent this release to journalists:
London, UK, 8th April 2009 – Swyx, a market-leading vendor of Unified Communications for SMEs, has been selected by photographic studio chain Doubletake to supply SwyxWare unified communications software to its four studios located in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Southampton. The company provides a makeover and photo shoot experience to over 7,000 clients a month and was looking to reduce both its telecommunications and other operating costs by replacing its old phone system with a converged software based solution that could take advantage of SIP and GSM gateways.
The company expects a return on investment within 6 months and annual savings of over £100,000.
Managing Director at Doubletake, Julian Jenkins explains, “All of our business is generated by referrals from existing clients, so a large part of our operation is involved in outbound calling. We employee 100 agents to contact prospects by phone and the majority of these calls are made to mobiles, making telephony costs a significant part of our overheads. Our incumbent system was unreliable, expensive and was unable to give us the additional functionality that we were looking for.”
After reviewing a number of potential replacements, the company was introduced to Swyx, by one of its Gold partners, GP Network Solutions (GPNS), a specialist in unified communications. Julian added, “The Swyx solution had a number of key advantages over other systems we considered, foremost of which was its ability to run on our existing data network and importantly it had the capability to route calls directly to the most appropriate network; GSM for mobiles or SIP for non-mobile calls.”
Jenkins continues, “The Swyx solution also offered key features such as call recording, voicemail management using email, and full integration with contact management systems such as Microsoft Outlook, included as standard, making it a very cost effective package”.
Jenkins has also been very impressed with the level of service he has received from GPNS, “The support has been excellent, they thoroughly understand our business model and have customised the solution to work hard for us.”
The company has ambitions to increase its customer volume to 9,000 per month and extend its operation overseas initially to India and Hong Kong where it will roll out Swyx. Jenkins adds, “The advantage of using a system like Swyx is that it is easy and quick to set up and of course all
the calls between offices are free. In addition we are already using Swyx’s built-in conferencing facility between our UK studios and we will extend this further once we go international.” A Summary of the benefits that Doubletake has gained from the Swyx installation:
• Integration with GSM and SIP has reduced call costs by over 50%
• Expected ROI within 6 months of install
• Call recording has improved agent efficiency and prospect to sale
• Integration with contact management system and voicemail has
dramatically reduced office administration
• A ‘virtual’ communications platform that can be expanded into
new national and international locations.
With Doubletake’s method of handing cards in the street to the right-looking prospects, the thisismoney.co.uk article reveals that they reckon to have a third of all the mobile phone numbers of women between 18 and 30 in Britain. Using the fair to catch the fair, they’ve got more than their fair share of criticism as well as business.