Vanity Number Showers Heartland Bath With Calls

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The rise in response rates from switching to a vanity phone number instead of a numeric number in commercials has been so dramatic for Heartland Bath Systems, that the Elk Grove, IL company is seeking other franchises to share the number -- and the new business.

By sharing its 1-800-NEWBATH number with other dealers of Luxury Bath Systems, Heartland Bath will share leads and costs with competitors. With a more than 200 percent jump in responses to commercials using the new number, sharing leads made sense, said Heartland Bath president Robert Glassberg.

"We have more business than we can handle right now, and if others use the number then we can save on advertising," he said. "We also won't have to worry about calls coming in from outside the service area."

When the company first began testing the number on billboards, benches and local movie theater advertising about four years ago, it saw response rates rise by about 50 percent. A year ago, when the company started using the number on commercials, volume soared and the company began receiving 25 to 30 calls per commercial.

"It's more memorable; the amount of calls we are getting is incredible compared to our old number where we got next to no response," Glassberg said.

The number was well-suited to Heartland Bath, which sells and installs Luxury acrylic bath products, including custom-made bathtubs that go over existing tubs and can be installed in one day.

Response Marketing Group, Burlington, VT, which provided the number, can structure the number so that calls can be distributed to different companies based on area, or percentages.

"They can split it within a city, so that if a north side franchise gets 40 percent of the calls and a south side franchise gets 60 percent, the two franchises can divide up costs based on how many calls they got," Glassberg said.

Different franchises can then also work out deals to share advertising costs, Glassberg noted.

The company, located in the Chicago area, has enlisted franchises in Milwaukee to begin using the number and has plans to begin sharing with another Chicago area franchise.

Response Marketing Group, which has a block of about 1,000 toll-free numbers all starting with the words new or next, charges a set-up fee of $50 to $100, a monthly fee that varies by area code, and a permanent per-minute rate that varies by state. The agency also provides weekly data to Heartland and its other toll-free line clients every Thursday. Response Marketing Group is able to provide results because calls to Heartland Bath on the vanity number go seamlessly through its phone system.

"Weekly statistics show which area codes the calls came from, which exchanges, the time of day, call volume," said Kathy Rossner, sales manager with Response Marketing Group. "They can look at the results of a recent campaign and know if they are getting low results in a particular area, maybe they should boost visibility in that area."

Glassberg said the statistics are used for targeting as well as staffing.

"We've been able to get a better idea of what the demographics are we are attracting," he said. "We can also see who called and when out heaviest times are so we can schedule people to be in the showrooms at those times."

The biggest surprises in the data that the company receives from the number is the amount of calls that come in from outside the company's service area, Glassman said.

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