Do you want to start a call center business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a virtual call center agency with NO money and no experience plus a sample call center agency business plan template. Call center business is one of many businesses that in recent time is not location bound; a call center can be located in China or India and work for clients in the United Kingdom or the united states of America.
This is as a result of outsourcing services such as telemarketing and customers care services to call center organizations that can effectively handle such services for their clients who would want to cut down overhead cost. As a matter of fact, most organizations in the United States of America, Canada and the united kingdom would prefer to outsource their customer care services and telemarketing services to places where they can get cheaper labor so that they can have more time and resources to concentrate on their core services.
So if you are an aspiring entrepreneur with enough capital, one of the businesses you should consider starting to open a standard call center that can handle clients from within the United States of America and other countries of the world.
You can as well choose to partner with investors from countries such as Nigeria, China, India and Philippines et al where you can be rest assured that you can get cheaper labor to establish your call center. Here below is a comprehensive guide to starting a call center business;
22 Steps to Starting a Call Center Business at Home
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Write a Business Plan
- 14. Prepare a Detailed Cost Analysis
- 15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 18. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 19. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 20. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 21. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
A call center (call centre) is a centralized office facility that is used for the purpose of receiving or transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone; it could be inbound call center, outbound call center or both. An inbound call centre basically handles incoming calls from clients while and outbound call center is all about making calls to clients and potential clients for the purpose of marketing their products or services or to pass information to people via telephone.
Basically the services for outbound call centers revolve around telemarketing, solicitation of charitable or political donations, debt collection and market research et al. It is on record that the earliest call centers were created during the 1960s, and were known as “Private Automated Business Exchanges” (PABX). So also the earliest example of a modern call centre was in the UK is at the Birmingham Press and Mail.
They had a GEC PABX 4 ACD, installed in 1965. It is important to state that the coining of the term “call center” is more recent, with the first published use of the term in 1983. Players in the Telemarketing and Call Center industry provide customer care services and telemarketing services on a contract or fee basis.
Telemarketers use telephone or email to promote clients’ products or services, take orders, solicit contributions or provide information on behalf of clients. Customer care services provide phone-based services and assistance to customers of clients. Industry operators do not own the products or provide the services they represent.
Interesting Statistics About the Industry
From the result of a research carried out in the United States, the Telemarketing and Call Centers industry is concentrated in the Southeast, West and Mid-Atlantic regions reasons being that these areas are the three most populated in the United States, providing a large and stable workforce. These regions also provide affordable real estate that can be used to establish call centers.
Some state and local governments even offer tax and job-creation incentives to attract investors interested in build a call center. The Southeast region has the highest concentration of industry establishments with 24.9 percent of US locations. Florida leads the region, housing 10.3% of domestic locations on its own. In this region, states such as North Carolina and Kentucky offer tax incentives to draw call center business to the state.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 25,911 registered independent call center businesses responsible for employing about 484,364 employees and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $21bn annually. The industry is projected that grow by 1.9 percent annually. In the United States of America, the companies with the largest market share in the industry are Convergys and West Corporations.
The Telemarketing and Call Center industry is indeed witnessing a steady growth over the years especially in countries such as the United States, China, India, Philippines and even in the United Kingdom. Though for some players in this industry would prefer to build their call centers in places where they can maximize profits; countries like India, China and The Philippines readily comes to mind
One good thing about starting a call center agency business is that even if you decided to start it in the United States of America, your market will not be restricted to business in the U.S.; the world will be your target market. Many thanks to the internet that has made the world a global village. All you need to do is to strategically position your call center brand on the internet and you will be amazed at the rate people and business interested in outsourcing their customer care or telemarketing related services to your organization.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographics composition of those who require the services of call center companies is not restricted to corporate organizations that are into sale of product and services, but also individuals who are also interested in promoting their image cum brand. For instance, you will notice that some celebrities and even politicians pump in money on outbound call center so as to enable them trend on the internet and in the heart of their target audience.
So if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your call center business, then you should make it all encompassing. It should include corporate organizations, political parties cum politicians, government agencies, celebrities, schools, NGOs and even religious organizations (especially during fund raising campaigns) et al.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
In as much as most call centers operates a standard call center that handles all the business activities in the industry such as providing telephone answering services, providing contract or fee-basis telemarketing services, providing wakeup call services, providing voice mailbox services, providing telephone solicitation services, providing message services, providing customer service via call centers, technical support services, and debt collection services et al, there are still some call centers that choose to specialize in a given niche area of the industry.
These are some of the area of specialization a start – up call Center Company can specialize on within the call center industry;
- Outbound Call Center
- Inbound Call Center
- Tele – marketing
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Surviving in the business world as a call center requires more than, your expertise, knowing how to conduct your business but also how to network with key people that matters; decision makers that can decide who will get a call center outsourcing contract or a business deal.
The level of competitions in the call center industry to some extent depends largely on the niche of your call center business and how well – equipped your call center is. If you can successfully create a unique niche for your call center business, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.
For instance; if you are the only call center company that specializes in technical support services, and debt collection services et al in your location, you are sure of monopolizing that aspect of the business; your competitors can even sub – contract jobs to you to help them deliver.
It is a known fact that when it comes to call center business, distance is never a barrier when competing for clients. What most clients want is result, hence they are ready to hire call center company no matter the part of the world they operate from as long as they have good track record and can deliver excellent results.
But over and above, there are several call centers scattered all around the United States and in the world. So if you choose to start your own call center business in the United States of America, you will definitely meet a stiffer competition not only amongst call center companies in the United States, but also all over the globe. Besides, there are larger call center companies that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for clients.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
These are some of the leading call center in the United States of America;
- All West Call Center
- Tele – Direct
- Specialty Answering Service
- Xact Tele – solutions
- Call Experts
- Contact One
- CMS Call Center
The Call Center industry is indeed witnessing a steady growth over the years especially in countries such as the United States, China, India, Nigeria, south africa, Philippines and even in the United Kingdom. Though for some players in this industry would prefer to build their call centers in places where they can maximize profits; countries like India, China and The Philippines readily comes to mind
One good thing about starting a call center agency business is that even if you decided to start it in the United States of America, your market will not be restricted to business in the U.S.; the world will be your target market. Many thanks to the internet that has made the world a global village.
All you need to do is to strategically position your call center brand on the internet and you will be amazed at the rate people and business interested in outsourcing their customer care or telemarketing related services to your organization.
The industry has experienced steady growth over the last five years as the US economy picked up traction. The trend is that domestic industry has largely been outsourcing operations to low-wage countries for a number of years, which has historically resulted in limited growth.
In line with healthy growth, call centers have increasingly used technological advancements, including cloud-based systems, social media, voice recognition software and other broadband-enabled technology, to become more efficient. As technology becomes less costly and more accessible for industry operators, numerous new entrants have been enticed into the industry.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to start from the scratch as against buying a franchise. Besides it is difficult to come by a franchise of a call center company, the best you can get is to buy over an existing call center.
Please note that most of the big and successful call centers that you see around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedications, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own call center brand to become a successful brand in your area of specialization and even go ahead to work for clients both at the national level and global stage.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
As an aspiring entrepreneur, if you decide to start your own call center business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established call centers who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on start – ups who can’t afford the high end fees charge by well – established call centers for outsourcing business deals.
Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn; if the economy is in bad shape, history has it that call center companies usually struggle to maintain their old clients or even win new client. So also, unfavorable government policies can also hamper the growth of your call center company.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Starting a call center business is indeed a serious business especially as it relates to bidding for outsourcing call center jobs. This is why the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big you want the business to grow. No doubt choosing a legal entity for a business can be a bit challenging.
When it comes to choosing a legal entity for your you have the option of choosing from general partnership, a limited partnership, an LLC, a “C” corporation, or a “S” corporation. It is important to clearly state that these different forms of legal structure for business has its own advantages and disadvantages; which is why you must weigh your options properly before making your choice.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your call center company; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.
If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your call center company, you will agree that Limited Liability Company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or a ‘S’ corporations especially when you have the plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your call center company so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company; you will enjoy flexibility in ownership and in your management structures.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When it comes to Choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represent. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
If you are considering starting your own call center company, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Independent Call Center Company
- One Square Meter Telemarketing, Inc.
- Benet Outsourcing, LLC
- Degree 360 Call Center, Inc.
- Project Detail Call Center, LCC
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world as well, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance that is required by the industry you want to operate from. So it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your call center company.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own call center company in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
Basically, if you are considering starting your own call center company, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection / trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or call center software and other software apps that are unique to your company, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark in the United States, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
If you want to make impact in the call center industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. You are strongly encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run a successful call center company;
- Call Center Management Certification
- The RCCSP Call Center Manager Certification
- The Certified Call Center Manager (CCCM) certification
Please note that the higher your qualifications and experience (expertise), the easier it is for you to secure high profile call center outsourcing contracts from all over the globe especially from organizations in the United States of America and Canada.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations.
These are some of the basic legal document that you are expected to have in place if you want to run your own call center business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Consulting contract documents
- Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
13. Write a Business Plan
As an entrepreneur who truly wants to build a successful business from the scratch, nothing but the best will be expected from you when it comes to writing a business plan. The truth is that, if you can successfully pen down your business concept and the strategies you intend working with to achieve your business aims, goals and objectives, then you would have successfully create your business blue – print.
It is not only when you want to set up a conglomerate or multi – million dollars corporations that you are required to write a business plan; ideally if you call what you want to do business, then you would need a business plan to work with.
A business plan is the blue print of your business; it is a business document that can aid you to successfully set up a business and also administer / manage the business. It is not enough to just write a business plan for the sake of writing one, your business plan should be able to pass reality check; you must put relevant facts, figures and statistics into consideration when writing your business plan.
The truth is that, the main aim of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but to have a detail guide on how to effectively set – up, run and manage your business. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to operate your call center business.
When it comes to writing your business plan, make sure that you are moderate when it comes to setting projections on income generation et al. It is better to be on the safer side when you are calculating your future income. These are some key factors that you should also consider when drafting your business plan;
Executive summary and Company’s descriptions
You are expected to write about the concept of your business, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, and mission statement, where your company will be located, how you intend sourcing for outsourced call center contracts, the industry you want to work for and perhaps why people should patronize your services.
Some other key components that should not be missing in your call center company business plan are your service offering, SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, pricing, costing and financial projection, management techniques, expansion strategies, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation et al.
14. Prepare a Detailed Cost Analysis
When it comes to starting a call center, what you should be concerned about is the amount needed to secure a standard office facility or warehouse facility that can contain the numbers of call center agents you intend employing in a good and busy business district, the amount needed to furniture and equip the office, the amount to purchase the required call center gadgets (computers, phone box, and headphone et al), software applications and internet facilities, the amount needed to pay bills, promote the business and obtain the appropriate business license and certifications.
When it comes to starting a small scale call center company, the following expenditure should guide you;
- The Total Fee for incorporating the Business in the United States of America: $750.
- The budget for Liability insurance, permits and license: $2,500
- The Amount needed to acquire a suitable Office facility in a business district 6 months (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive): $40,000.
- The Cost for equipping the office (call center gadgets (Private Automated Business Exchanges” (PABX), computers, phone box, and headphone et al), software applications and internet facilities, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets and electronics et al): $50,000
- The Cost of Launching your official Website: $600
- The budget for paying at least 10 employees for 3 months and utility bills : $100,000
- Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al): $2,500
- Miscellaneous: $1,000
Going by the report from the research and feasibility studies conducted, you will need about $200,000 or less to set up a small scale call center company in the United States of America
You will need over five hundred thousand U.S. dollars to successfully set – up a medium scale call center company in the United States of America.
If you are considering starting a large scale call center company with several professionals under your payroll in the United States of America and other parts of the world, then you should look towards budgeting from 1 million United States dollars and above.
15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
If you are considering starting a call center business, then you should be able to pool in loads of cash because call center business is indeed a capital intensive project. This is so because the money required to set up a standard call center is not cheap.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first thing and perhaps the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your call center business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for Loan from your Bank / banks
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
One thing about call center is that, a call center can be located in a remote part of town and still generate good business deals. This is so because the nature of the business enables operators to operate from any part of the world; location is not a barrier to the success of the business. But if you can afford to get a good location for your call center, then you are likely going to have some leverage that a business district offers.
So if you are looking for a location for your call center company, ensure that it is a place that is affordable, a place that is located in the hub of business in your city, a place that is visible and easily accessible. Of course you would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirt of town.
Your clients should be able to drive down and locate your office with little or no difficulty. Vendors also should be able to easily locate your office when they have to come submit their bid / proposals.
17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Call center requires some form of technology that makes it easier for several calls to received and made at the same time. A call center requires Private Automated Business Exchanges” (PABX) and customized software application. The phone box and headphones are programmed in such a way that it is easier to log outbound and inbound calls.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the call center company you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard call center company, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your call center company; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning and structuring.
As regards the numbers of employees that you are expected to kick start your call center with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Digital Marketing and Social Medial Management Consultants and Associates (Different areas of specializations as it applies to your business), Business Development Executive / marketing Executive, Call Center Agents, Front Desk Officer, and Accountant.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 10 to 20 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard call center company.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Service delivery process of a call center company revolves around receiving calls and making outbound calls. Basically a call center performs some or all of the following activities; providing telephone answering services, providing contract or fee-basis telemarketing services, providing wakeup call services, providing voice mailbox services, providing telephone solicitation services, providing message services, providing customer service via call centers, technical support services, and debt collection services et al.
One good thing about outsource call center jobs is that the entire processes can be measured and monitored with accurate data and statistics. For example, the total number of calls received, the total number of call made, the response received and the total time spent on calls within a given period of time. With that, it is easier to track progress and make amendments if need be.
18. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
As a call center company, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before you can be awarded any call center outsource contract. So if you have plans to start your own call center, then you must be willing to spend money to build a standard call center and also to recruit competent and qualified workforce that can deliver top notch services at all times
People and organizations will hire your services to help them handle all their customer service, telemarking and promotion campaigns role as it relates to call center outsource services if they know that they are going to get value for their money.
So when you are drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your call center company, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company’s profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to call center cum customer services and the organizations you have worked for in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for outsource call center contracts.
Please note that in most cases, when you bid for outsource call center contracts from organizations, you will be called upon to defend your proposal, and so you must be pretty good with presentations. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your call center services;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the corporate organizations and businesses in the United States ( if you are just starting out, you may want to concentrate on start – ups and smaller businesses)
- Promptness in bidding for outsource call center contracts
- Advertise your business in relevant business magazines, radio stations and TV stations (make yourself available for customer services cum call center related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radios)
- List your business on local directories / yellow pages
- Attend relevant customer services cum call center expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people who consider you an expert in the field)
- Join local chambers of commerce around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing
19. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The call center services industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to create easier and cheaper ways of tackling sales and marketing challenges in the industry you service.
Organizations and people will always run to you if they know that you have a better option especially as it relates to producing results for their customer care cum call center marketing needs.
Another strategy that you can adopt is to ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and regularly undergo training so as to enable them operate within the scope of best practices in the industry.
20. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
The truth is that no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your business tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customers’ retention and perhaps to attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service provider or products.
Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service provider or product is when there is a drop in quality. Another reason is poor customer service. If you can continue to improve on the quality of your customer service delivery, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick survey, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
21. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secret of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes year in and year out to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
If you intentions of starting a call center company is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand that can handle top notch outsourcing jobs from all over the globe, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both print and electronic media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and far reaching.
Another strategy is to sponsor relevant community, TV and radio programs, advertise your business in relevant magazines and newspapers and to also ensure that all your staff members wear your company’s branded shirt and your official staff bus is well – branded.
22. Tips for Running a Call Center Business Successfully
The success of any business is the combination of the daily activities that takes place in the organization. In order to run a successful call center business it is important to create standard operating processes that runs on autopilot and your automated service must always be available and user’s friendly.
Every day’s job should start by reviewing the previous day’s job, reviewing all the set targets and goals before setting a new target or goal for the day. If an organization must succeed, all hands must be on deck; everybody should be involved in promoting the brand of the organization. It should not be left to the PR or marketing and sales department.
The management of the organization should ensure that they review the operating processes from time to time in order to develop better and faster ways of doing things. If it is possible, they can hire the services of business consultants to look into the process and then make recommendations on how best to carry out a job description et al. Recommendation could mean suggesting a customized software for a specific process in the call center processes.
The truth is that, no matter the kind of business you run, your ability to get all the members of your team on same page at all times is one of the keys you need to successfully run the organization.
As the chief executive officer of the business, it is you responsibility to give direction to the business. Part of what you need to do is to ensure that you create time for office meetings; a time where challenges, feedbacks, projections and relevant issues are discussed. The meetings could be daily, once in a week or once in a month.
Carrying out appraisals on a regular basis and training your employees will help you run your organization effectively. Lastly, you should keep your doors open for suggestions from members of your team and be willing to reward excellent performance as at when due.