Paul Speigelman was a guest of Inc. Magazine's Business Owners Council: Greater New York on May 18 (NYC) and May 19 (NJ). You may have read about Paul in Inc. magazine as the CEO of The Beryl Cos. Beryl is an imaginative, inspirational and hugely successful call-center business serving hospitals and based in Dallas, TX.
Our session was entitled: Attraction Marketing: How to Stand Apart From Your Competitors and Support a Premium-Priced Product in a Commoditized Environment. During his time with the Inc. community from the Greater New York area, we focused on some of Beryl's many achievements:
1) How he built a $35 million business that dominates his marketplace with only 3 salespeople who spend all day fielding inbound sales calls.
2) …what else could be more important than #1???? Seriously, though, Paul's most significant achievement is that he did this by creating a company that his employees love. What's more, he sells that "love" to his clients by bringing his company's culture of goodwill into his client's firms, creating not only a more positive business environment but a better bottom line.
Paul built his hugely successful company on a few simple premises:
First, price your product or service with a high profit margin -- even if you are in a commodity business where price seems like the only way to compete.
Second, overwhelm the clients with such a great experience that they are willing to pay you more than your competitors. Paul's book, Why Is Everybody Smiling, goes into great detail about how he's done this.
Are you still with me? Because here's where it gets tricky…
Third, Make your firm look bigger than it is. Here's how Paul does this:
* He called his firm "The Beryl Cos." even though he had only one active firm under that broad umbrella. "It made us look bigger than we were," he said.
* Send out a press release every time the company does something. New hire? Press release. New client? Press release. New product? Press release…you see how this works?
* Fourth, figure out what the big thing is that you do. Not what you sell, but what you do. In Paul's case, his firm sells a call center for patients looking for doctor referrals (there's a 1 in 10 chance that when you call your local hospital looking for a doctor to visit, Paul's firm is answering that phone call.) But what Beryl does is improve the patient experience. That realization led Paul to create The Beryl Institute (Yay! Paul finally had a second company under his "Beryl Cos." brand).
The Beryl Institute is dedicated to sharing data about the connection between a positive patient experience and a positive bottom line. Paul began the institute by looking at the data his own firm was collecting about patient experience and freely sharing that with the very same people he sent press releases out to all the time. Eventually, anyone could subscribe to this list at The Beryl Institute's website.
Over time, others in the healthcare industry asked him to send their research to his Beryl Institute list of subscribers. Paul said 'yes' and now outside firms do most of the writing which is distributed to the institute's list.
Eventually, Paul created the Beryl Institute's National Conference event dedicated to bringing patient advocates together to share ideas.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: Paul never, ever, sells his call center through the Beryl Institute. It is a clearinghouse for best practices in patient experience and allows Beryl to be at the center of a dialogue which is critical to helping him keep his call center business relevant and cutting edge.
As they say in the shampoo business: Publish, promote, repeat. After doing this steadily since 2006, Beryl has become the de facto standard in the healthcare call center field, all with a salesforce of three!
In the months to come, Inc. Business Owners Council will be working closely with its members to help them implement the very same strategy that Paul used to turn his business into a valuable resource for his industry and attract new clients while supporting premium pricing in a commodity business.
Thank you Paul for sharing your recipe for attracting new business--even in tough times and even when your business can feel like it's a commodity. You are a genuine thought leader.
LEWIS SCHIFF is the executive director of the Inc. Business Owners Council. His latest book is Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons From the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons.
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