Answering Machine

There were numerous times when I was at the comic store, well after it closed.  Most times I was either inputting comic sales into a spreadsheet or filling out the distributor order book.  One thing I found by these late night sessions was the phone would keep ringing well after I closed.  I am not talking about one call, but many calls.  This made me think about how many of these people could be potential customers.  I knew a phone that just rang would not turn any into customers, but if I did a message then I could possibly get some new customers.  So I thought about this and decided to look into it.

After I thought about how a message would beneficial, I went to an office supply store to buy a answering machine.  I ended up getting a phone with a built in machine that taped on small cassette tapes.  I did not want a built-in answering machine as they usually only offered a minute or two of space to record on.  I wanted to have room for a longer message.

As I set up the answering machine, I thought about what to say on this message.  I thought about what questions someone would have.  The obvious ones were the store hours and location.  Most of my calls involved these two questions.  So I wrote these down.  Then I added what day the new comics came in.  I also put a quick list of what products we sold.  I thought this was a good start and recorded the first message.

A few weeks later, I had a customer tell me he called at night and listened to the message.  He found it helpful but wondered if we could list what new comics came in that week.  I thought about this and decided to try it.  So each Wednesday night, I would sit down and make a list of the top twenty comics that came in that week.  I would then put the regular message and at the end I listed the new comics.

The answering machine message was doing well as people liked it.  Some liked it so much that they left messages on the machine.  At our peak, we would have a dozen or so people a week leaving messages.  Some were basic great job to some weird ones like some drunk guy ordering pizza to kids making silly noises. 

The strange messages gave me the idea to liven up the messages.  So with some sound effect CDs and some TV themes, we made them more fun.  We would play a snippet of the Batman Theme Song when his books would come out or other fun stuff.  They were actually quite fun and got more people to call to see what we would do the next week.

So if you open a comic store, I would recommend getting an answering machine or service and at least listing your store hours, location and products you carry.  You do not have to go as far as we did, but that person calling in the middle of the night may become your next customer.



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Tom Zjaba 1997 - 2015      

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