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Actually, at 57 years of age I'm an old-timer myself! Finding myself laid off from my telecom job I'm looking at starting up my own business and was looking for any advice from you guys who've already been down this road.
I've picked up some service work from companies I used to do service for and was wondering how you guys prospect for new business.
I know in this current business climate, everything is slow but I thought I might pick up some tricks of the trade.
I've already sold a XBlue X16 system so I'm hoping some word of mouth will get things started.

Thanks in advance for any help you may give!
My signature line says it all. If I was looking for something to do this sure wouldn't be it.

-Hal
Terry, altho Hal seems kinda bitter about the whole thing, I have to admit that retiring at 63 sure was a nice option for me! Ran the numbers, considered MY options and didn't let the door hit me on the butt on the way out! smile Keep my hand in through word of mouth, don't look for work. If I don't like/trust the customer, I don't do the work and refer him to someone hungrier. Unfortunately, you've got 5 years to early SS. frown There will probably be others along who have some good ideas. John C.
When I first retired (23 years now); I tried the word of mouth, it just did'nt get it you have to be agressive.
"Word of Mouth" is the best & least expensive advertising. Before that is of any use though, as Jim says, you must be aggressive. Before anyone can pass your name along, you have to be known.

Contact any clients that you served before retiring. If they liked your work, personality, etc., they might be willing to give you a chance.
If you have some big Fortune 500 type accounts then go for it, but if all your seeing is little small biz pbx of less than 20 phones then i would rather try and get a job.

Sure when you start you may think the money coming in is better than the number you got from your last employer, but when after say the first year you look at what you spend on insurance, an accountant to do your sales tax & state & fed taxes, transport, utilities, etc etc etc you will soon find out that you personally only can keep around 25 cent in every dollar you get in your mailbox if your lucky.

This year i have seen the new systems from small biz almost totaly dry up, just service.
If you lucky enough to have some national type accounts they are still buying new things like Pink Noise systems.

Also don't take this personally but York PA? I could be totaly wrong but how much industry is out there where you live?

one other thing, if your customer tells you "give me a great deal on this system and i know heaps of other biz that i will refer to you" dont believe it it very rarely happens.......
word of mouth sales do not come easily, they require a time of building your name through quality service to your customers. one or two jobs will rarely generate more sales, and I agree with Avalon, if someone tells you that you'll get heaps of business from doing a "deal" for them, the heap has already been deposited!!! IF you decide to stay in the telecom field, work hard, make cold calls (TONS of them) get your name out there and be prepared to keep way less of the revenue than you generate. Good Luck!
I did the same thing a couple years ago. The company I worked for went "Cisco" and left guys like me hung out to dry. Rather than work for someone else for peanuts, I gave this a try. I picked a fine time to do it, on the cusp of a recession. Having said that, it's not impossible. If you've never done sales before, learn. It may be the hardest and most frustrating part of the job. Like MooreTel said, "word of mouth" is the best form of advertising. Get in touch with old customers and let them know you're out there. Get in touch with I.T. guys. They can funnel cabling and small system work your way. Have a flier made up and start handing them out door to door. A lot of them will get tossed, but a fair share will get hung on to. I've had calls off them a full year after handing them out. It's boring and tedious, but you have to get the word out. Get a web site built. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but it should be informational. Make use of free online advertising (google, yahoo, etc) and direct them to your site. This takes time to develop also, but I find myself getting more work off the web as I go along.
"the Company went Cisco" Nice one........
We used to do MAC's for this Shipping Company every other week, they had all 4 floors , about 3 Avaya G3's stacked on top of each other, they had a "Telecom Guy" who used to give us the work, then he seemed to drop off the face of the earth, so one day I walked in, the Receptionist said he had been sacked, looked at her desk, gone were the Avaya phones, in its place was a new Cisco phone...........
"sales is the hardest thing" spot on....
The endless Chamber of Commerce events, all the other networking, buying people lunch who talk a good game & then never give you anything....it wears you down.

Another thing i have noticed in this recession is that getting paid is taking longer than before and in some cases is a real worry that you will actually ever see the money.......
Terry:

I do more wiring than system installation, so this advice might not be exactly relevant to your situation.

I have found a niche doing renovations to installations that would qualify in the "Ugly Work" category. I have 40 years+ experience doing trouble-shooting. I have almost zero experience installing modern electronic key systems.

I approach builders, contractors, architects, electricians, alarm companies, HVAC companies, etc. and hand them a full-page write-up about me, my experience, and what a good installation should look like.

I also tell them that if they have a customer with weird telephone problems that the lunatics at Verizon can't fix, to have them call me. If a contractor is going to renovate a bathroom, or put on a deck, or do any other odd job, chances are that there will be wiring to do.

When a customer migrates to a TV company-based telephone service, invariably there will be work. The cable companies do not understand telephony. Period. They will 100% of the time screw things up, ranging from simply not being able to get all the phones in a business or house working, to royally screwing up an alarm system, with great potential for disaster.

I keep busy due to the incompetence of others.

As an added note: "I gotta get out of this business..." too.
Man you guys are bumming me out!!! Someone get me a razor blade and start running a hot bath!! Oh well, the job market in the York, Lancaster, Harrisburg area is dismal to say the least so I guess the option I have to keep plugging away at the accounts I serviced and see if I can drum up new business is about all I have.
I do appreciate the input so far and look forward to someone giving me some good news!!
I was trained by phone guys at the interconnect company my dad works for. From my experience there I got interested in computers and networking. I took a two year tech ed program in high school and I am currently in college studying computer networking.
Business wise, I do a bit of everything...from fixing a computer in someone's house to commercial voice/data cabling.
Jeff: I don't think you qualify as an old-timer. Just my $0.02.

Now i'm getting our of here before Ken shows up and tells me about his pair of boots that are older then I am.
I never said I was, just sharing some experience.
Quote
I keep busy due to the incompetence of others.
so true , so true

Telco incompetence , CG's and Alarm techs doing installs , keeps the calls coming
Terry, PM sent.
I am not quite as grey as some here but telecom makes you old quick.

For us it's always been cabling and mac work. We do not advertise so word of mouth it what keeps us going. It also helps to sub for other established and trust worthy contractors. We have good relations with a few local builders and it provides OK. Just keep your head up and plug along like the rest of us and you will be fine. Also train up on your IP skills it will carry you when the famines hit.

System sales are secondary for us and there is not allot to be made in that end anyway unless like Avalon said they are a fortune 500 company.

Some of us have a good list and a bad list for nationals so you might want to get plugged in and chat with a few privately here. It makes for OK residual.
I haven't been doing this as long as many on this board, about 8 years, but I'll give you a list of what I tried and whether or not it paid off.

Yellow Pages: Don't bother

Newspaper ad: Don't bother

Radio ads: Don't bother

Name number on truck: Well worth it

Went to Chamber site and emailed all members: Not worth it

Joined Chamber and went to several events: Not worth it

Mailing with flyer and business card: Pretty good

Door to door: Didn't help much

Cold calling: Didn't help and I hated doing it

Listing on Sundance and a few other sites: Has helped, mostly with nationals. Of course as was stated, check here before accepting work from a national. Search the site to see if they've been cussed or discussed before.

As others have said, word of mouth seems to be the best. I'll be the first to tell you I'm no salesman, so that may be why the door to door and cold calling didn't produce much, actually seemed to piss people off more than help. I've had my best luck with mailings with introductions, flyers or brief news letter, always with business card enclosed.
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