When the air turns stale and heavy, where do people turn to find help? You might say that yellow telephone directory, but smart HVAC contractors are making it easier to capture those customers with a toll-free phone name that avoids the yellow entirely. Imagine customers driving down the street with that misbehaving air conditioning unit on their mind. They hear a radio commercial or see a sign. They have just seconds to register a phone number that will lead them to an HVAC contractor. But a series of numbers are difficult to recall. After all, which are you more likely to remember — 1-800 265-3247 or 1-800 Cold Air?
Thus, the rising trend toward using vanity names in toll-free numbers. The memorable quality of the number translates to convenience for the customer, better branding, lead generation, and, ultimately, sales and profits.
The value of toll-free phone names hit early with Conditioned Air Corporation, Naples, FL, which has been using 1-800 Cold Air for years, and added the additional 1-888 Cold Air phone name to cover the bases. The reason is clear, according to Keith Walker, chief operations officer.
“We want to give the customer something easy to remember and associate ‘cold air’ with Conditioned Air so we use it in all our commercials.” He adds, “Even if they don’t remember our name, they remember how to reach us. When somebody’s AC does break and they hear 1-888 Cold Air, it’s top-of-mind awareness.”
Local, Regional or National Routing
Although 1-800 numbers were originally ‘toll-free’ for long distance calls – and still can serve this purpose – regional routing systems now enable those prefixes to target local areas. Heating and air contractors for service and supply can purchase the specific areas where their potential customers live. It may be one area code, overlapping areas for a large metropolitan area, or a state.
Selecting a Vanity Number
Vanity toll-free, shared-use providers have a variety of toll-free prefixes available, and they manage the phone routing for the name selected, so that it rings directly and seamlessly to the local client. In most cases, businesses can choose the area codes, regions or states they want for the name used with that 1-800 or other toll-free prefix. Then, when a prospect in the area sees that name, for example, 1-800-Cold Air or 1-800 Builder in advertising, they dial and the call rings directly to the client office.
For contractors with multiple locations, the number can be routed to the office closest to the caller. Most providers charge about $100 a month for the name and routing service per area code. Actual calls received are billed as well. And, in this case, it shows that the number is doing its job in attracting prospects.
The fees for vanity numbers don’t always increase overall ad budgets, since some contractors simply lower their Yellow Page or other outlays, says Dave Ashley of Telename, one of the leading 1-800 providers and a pioneer in the business.
“It’s an advantage when the memorability of the 1-800 name keeps customers from even going to the Yellow pages,” he adds.
Using Vanity Numbers to Your Advantage
Here are five tips on making your vanity names work harder:
1) Always use words. Avoid purchasing a hybrid ‘number’ of both numbers and words. For example, avoid 1-800-265-Cold. Use something like 1-800 Cold Air or 1-888 Heating instead.
2) Use recognized toll-free prefixes. A 2009 test by search marketing company, EngineReady.com, compared the various toll free prefixes for conversion rates. The highest return resulted from the 1-800 prefix, which was the original and best known. The next was 1-888. The last two were 877 and 866.
3) Spell out your service or product. ‘Cold Air’ says what you do. Your name, however, may not. Using ‘SmithBros, for example, wouldn’t make it clear what kind of service you offer.
4) Use words that the average person can spell. That means avoiding a word like ‘Fahrenheit.’ Also avoid using ‘Q” or “Z” since those letters have only recently added to new phone keypads.
5) Once you have the phone name, use it everywhere. It should become your main number which the routing company will send to whatever phone line you choose. The words should be on your trucks, signage, banners, business cards, direct mail, billboards – in fact, anywhere you want to provide the customer with phone information.
Providing a phone name helps customers remember your number and call. If that doesn’t sound like the ring of success, what does?
Sample Phone Names for HVAC Contractors
- 1-800-Cold Air
- 1-800-Free Bid
- 1-888-Cool Air
- 1-888-Warm Air
- 1-888-Air Cold
Roseanne Knorr writes for Tele-name Communications, Inc., the largest telename company in the U.S., based in Sarasota FL. The company can be reached at 1-800-tel-name; www.telename.com.