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Contact Info Change Question

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Hey Guys, I am a franchisee right now, and anticipate this will change this summer. It appears in my contract that the franchisor will be "keeping my phone numbers". Has anyone out there left a franchise? And how did you go about the transition including business name and contact info change? I realize this is going to be a real challenge. Any help is going to be of great value to me.

Thanks in advance.

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If I were you, I'd talk to a lawyer about that clause. I left a franchise more than 9 years ago and turned my phone number over to them. They assured me that if anyone called looking for me, they'd refer them my way.

I had to go through a years non-compete and couldn't do any inspections within a 25-mile radius of my old territory. When folks called my cell number they'd get me directly and I'd turn them down or take the job, depending on whether it was inside or outside of that 25-mile radius.

Nearly three years later, I happened to bump into a realtor at the home show. The conversation went something like this:

R: "Mike, where the hell have you been?"

Me: "Right here. I sold my franchise in January of 2001 and had to do a non-compete period wherein I couldn't do any work within 25 miles of my old marketing area for a year. What a pain it was, driving all that way to do jobs for a year. I was really happy when it was finally over. What's up with you, how come I never hear from you anymore?"

R: "Hell Mike, I called your number (He rattled my office number off from memory.) and got some lady. She told me that you'd sold your company, retired and had moved back east. Since then, I've been referring work to the guy who bought your franchise; but not a whole lot because he, frankly, isn't very good."

Me: "Wait a minute, I didn't go anywhere and those people knew it. Did you specifically ask for me when you called that number?"

R: "Hell Yes," but the lady said she didn't have any of your forwarding information. And I have to tell you, the guy who bought your company? He's really green. The number of questions that customers have after his inspections seem to all be related to not understanding the issues he's pointed out to them or what he'd written in the report. I don't refer folks to him unless I can't find anyone else who's more experienced and writes a better report."

Me: "Jeez, I'm really sorry that happened to you and your clients. You know I never was much at marketing to you guys, right? When the non-compete was over, I just shot you all some fliers to let you know I was doing inspections in the Seattle area again.

R: "Well, that explains it; I haven't looked at an inspector's flier in ten years. I've got no interest in trying out new inspectors on my clients. I keep the numbers of the one's who do a good job and I toss all of the advertising junk I get from the rest."

Me: "Well, my apologies for not being more proactive and coming to see you personally. Here's a bunch of my cards."

Been getting lots of referrals from that realtor since.

Yeah, I know, I should have done all of the neat little marketing things to follow up with all of those realtors when I finished up with the non-compete and if I had I wouldn't have lost work. However, that doesn't excuse what that guy did. Over the years, when someone has mistakenly called my number looking for that guy I've never lied and told them he was no longer in the business and tried to steal his customers. That's just........sleazy.

Before you turn that number over, make darned sure that they understand that, if a customer asks for you and they lie about your status and whereabouts, you'll consider legal action.



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So did you just change your contact info and wait for the calls to come in? Since I know you don't market to agents. Did you contact previous clients?

Thanks again.

I kept my cell phone number and ported it to my office phone. Most of my clients had my cell phone number anyway; I think it was just those who'd gotten used to calling the main number and had it memorized that didn't find me.

To cut office phone costs I ported my office number over to my cell phone a year ago and then got a Magic Jack number for the office. I always forward my office phone to my cell phone when I'm not physically in the office. That way, I end up taking most of my calls via the cell but people are gradually learning the new office number because it's on my card. Having the same cell phone/office/cell phone number for more than a decade definitely makes a big difference and having the same email address, that wasn't tied to the name of the franchise, for the past 14 years has made a big difference.

Look around you and figure out where the largest employer in your area is and then bust ass to get those folks to to talk about you at work or via their intra-company message boards. Once you've done that, you can stop worrying about marketing to the friggin realtors.

Go here and start working from the top down. The bigger they are, the more folks they have coming and and buying and leaving and selling. Find out what company activities they do where you can get exposure to those folks and then bend over backward to make it work. Whenever you've got a client or the client's wife in front of you, ask where they work and find out how large a company it is. One of my clients is a lawyer in a 700 member law firm. I've probably gotten 30 inspections out of that one firm in the past ten years.



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Since I just went through this with the same franchise a little over a year ago, I can honestly tell you not to post anything on here about your intentions to contact your past clients or current realtors. Since your contract with that franchise was originated in IL, I am not sure that you just get out of the one year non compete clause.

Just an FYI to CYA.

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