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Communications: Out of City, Out of Touch?

A solo business owner explains how a long-distance service has allowed him to stay in touch with customers.
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George Matarazzo wanted to get away from the city but not from his customers. After Matarazzo Design, his high-growth, high-profile landscape-architecture firm, failed in the New England real estate bust, Matarazzo decided to change his lifestyle. In 1990 he started a new solo business, Matarazzo Land Planning Consultants -- a company he runs out of a barn on his 80-acre farm in tiny Wilmot Flat, N.H. But there was one problem: in Wilmot Flat, some of Matarazzo's old customers couldn't find him.

Matarazzo's business is national, depending on contacts and a reputation made over many years. He discovered that people who knew him in the past would occasionally call Concord, N.H. -- the home office of the now-defunct Matarazzo Design -- looking for a company that wasn't there. A few persistent souls finally did locate him in Wilmot Flat and said, "George, I've been trying to get you for two months."

Matarazzo's solution was simple. For a modest base monthly fee, he has the telephone company list a Concord, N.H., number for George Matarazzo, as well as the Wilmot Flat number for Matarazzo Land Planning. People who call directory information in Concord get the Concord number, which automatically transfers the call to the Wilmot Flat line. Matarazzo picks up the long-distance charges for that transfer; even so, he estimates that he never pays more than $25 a month for the entire service. And, in a business in which a single call from an old client can yield months of work, that's a price Matarazzo is more than willing to pay.

-- Martha E. Mangelsdorf

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