Posted: Tue 10th Mar 2015
After a decade and a half of success in the UK, professional call handling service Moneypenny, has recently announced its launch into the US market. We ask head of sales and marketing, Joanna Swash, what led to the move and how Moneypenny's action can give confidence to other small businesses looking to do the same.
Our UK clients with offices in the US had been telling us for a while that they wished there was a Moneypenny in the market, as while there are countless telephone answering services available, the American market has been traditionally dominated by more impersonal messenger types; just as the UK market was when we started up in 2000. So after keeping an eye on the market for a while, we felt the time was right time to launch - confident that we were bringing a different model to the scene. Our service is different as it offers businesses a personal service and the same high-standards they would receive if they had their own receptionist based in their office.
It's a big move for us so we took a good couple of years making sure it was the right one. We learnt pretty early on to throw out any preconceptions we may have had, and certainly never assumed we could simply lift exactly what we do in the UK and parachute it into the US - particularly in terms of our marketing activity and the language we use. It's about sticking to what you do best then fine-tuning your approach. We also made sure we had the legal advice we needed to carefully navigate market entry.
Each of the US' individual states is a market in its own right and has to be researched as such - there is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to such a vast audience, so that took a lot of time. Knowing your market is 90% of the challenge in launching successfully. We researched hard, then researched again - talking to businesses, picking up the phone, living on the internet. As well as all the desktop work, we sought out feedback - we found people willing to talk to us and incredibly helpful. It can be so easy to trip up if you don't invest your time and effort into research - for example we started out referring to our employees as 'Moneypenny PAs' as we do here in the UK - only to find out that in the US, a PA is a 'Physician's Assistant!'.
Staff from the UK spent some time in the US helping get set up, but all our US employees are local. Charleston is a fantastic place to be and we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of local people towards our arrival. We have been inundated with CVs!
The expansion has been helped with support from UK Trade and Investment who have been a great source of information and support from the start. We found it particularly useful to get involved with their exhibitions, forums and events. They have helped us on so many practical levels too - from navigating some of the legal requirements, to finding meeting rooms, and making valuable introductions. When the South Carolina Department of Commerce heard we were considering basing our office in Charleston, they flew into the UK to meet with us. Like the UKTI, they have given us great advice and assistance and have opened a lot of doors. It's this kind of support you need when making a big move.
The plan now is to grow in line with the demands of existing clients with bases in the US as well as demand from US businesses. As in the UK, we are already seeing that legal is potentially a significant sector for us so we are doing some highly targeted as well as more general marketing activity. Our long-term goal is to employ approximately 400 people, the same number as we have in the UK now, within the next five years.
We have had a number of clients telling us that having the reassurance and familiarity of Moneypenny available to them in the US as well as the UK now is giving them more confidence to make the move - so hopefully our expansion will lead to even more British companies going Stateside!
Join Enterprise Nation for a webinar on 26th March on Doing Business in the US with Niall Gordon and Matt Guffey of UKTI to have your questions answered.
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