Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tethered Communities™ Finally Trademarked

Recently we won our Trademark approval for our seamless home to work environment process, Tethered Communities™. All of sudden I have a new found respect for small businesses that acquire that designation. I’m not talking about the hundreds and maybe thousands that merely use the Trademark (™) without having jumped through all the hoops fairly and legally battled to establish their products and services as something unique and not yet defined in the massive litany of Trademarks.

Clearly for our little company, this is a major victory. I don’t know that we will ever have the opportunity to produce an actual instance of this complex and incredibly powerful alternative to traditional work and labor force structuring. We are simply well ahead of the curve. I started building this concept over twenty years ago when I believed it was just a matter of time before we hit the “energy” wall and needed intelligent alternatives to “what going to work” looked like.

I began testing the program in the late 1980’s when I built the first of its kind work from home Telesales and Telemarketing company. Within a year I had over 500 people working from home and working on accounts like American Express, Lucent and even Ameritech. I’m not sure they knew exactly what they had gotten themselves into until it was too late but, once on board, my system worked so well that we were out performing any contractor these companies had ever known. We were more efficient, less costly and far more productive.

Before the Internet was even a thought, we were communicating weekly, and sometimes daily, with over 500 people working from home. I will admit those first years were crazy. We had grown so big, so fast that we consumed the top three floors of a deserted bank building. I remember that in the postal area of this old deserted bank they had this room with over a thousand mail slots. Every Friday afternoon the mail would come in or be dropped off by our 500 telemarketers. In their packages were their production reports, leads, hours and information on their project. And every Friday a small army descended on the “Mail” project.

I remember the color coded shopping carts – and I will never forget the squeaky wheels moving back and forth over the high gloss hardwood floors. First every package received had to be shoved into the right telemarketer slot in this enormous mailroom. The incoming packages had to contain all the information in the right order or they were tossed into another shopping cart to be sent back to the telemarketer who would have to fix the report and return it the next Friday (yup, they would lose a week’s work). We simply had too many people to allow them to make mistakes that we would have to fix during our very busy week. They learned quickly what had to be done and how it had to be done if they were going to get more work and, more importantly, get paid.

From the incoming packages that recorded all the work from the week prior, another group would scoop up over 500 packages in five painted shopping carts (one color for each client project) and deliver the first round of production recording where each package was opened, the contents analyzed, new leads prepared everything attached put into a color coded manila envelope which was then tossed into the coordinating color coded shopping cart. From there they moved to accounting. Here the envelopes were opened and, depending on their payment order, each telemarketer’s work was reviewed and calculated credits added to his or her profile in the computer (the old ones with the lead screen and green fonts). Credits made it easier to figure a telemarketer’s pay because they were paid in different formats; some hourly, others commission and some by appointments. The credit system allowed us to track the telemarketer by their job and the each credit equaled a dollar figure. The envelope was then filled with a revenue report that would be signed by the manager of that client and telemarketer, neatly tucked into the proper manila envelope and moved to the next department.

The Billing Department would then figure out what we were to charge each client. Using the production reports generated by the telemarketer, each accountant was trained on each client’s system of revenue. They would create the bill for the client and add that dollar amount into a separate report which logged telemarketer’s credits converted into dollars. This was a sophisticated report which I envisioned. It calculated the fixed and variable costs of the company for each preceding week. Our company flexed up and down considerably every week. One week we had 24 people in training, 16 people working sales, and a staff of eight or ten people to answer the phone, run errands, etc. and of course somewhere between 490 and 540 telemarketers working from home. I had built out a very complex but accurate spreadsheet that could account for all the factors - fixed and variable, from heating and AC to gas in the cars and pizza on Friday and Saturday nights which we would calculate to within a few dollars each week.

That final telemarketing report was neatly folded and put into the same manila folder, tossed into the appropriate shopping cart and then brought to my office. An enormous room; my office had a grand oak desk and seating area by a large window in the far corner. In the center of the office there was a huge conference table. There I would sit with the ten top managers and we would pore over every telemarketer report both those on the computer and those in the manila envelopes with the color circles pasted on the front. Are the hours right? Was the compensation to the telemarketer correct? Were new leads in the package? Were the hours accounted for? How much were we charging the client? Had the cash count been right (Oh, yes, we would always bring in somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars in cash every week) What was the telemarketer grade (Each week they were graded on performance - three bad weeks and you did not hear from us again)? Once we had all this done I would sign each and every report which would then go to Bob. Good old Bob, who would sift through all these payment and billing reports to match against my giant spreadsheet to enter in all the data and prove out the week. By Monday morning I would know, within pennies, how much money we had made or lost the preceding week and when you’re billing in excess of $100,000.00 a month that was no small feat.

Once the leads left my room, they were rushed over to the mail room in the appropriate color coded shopping carts. There, once again, the “Mail” army would begin putting every completed envelope in the corresponding telemarketer’s mail slot on the other side of the massive mail room.

Finally, by end of day Saturday, over 500 packages had been received, calculated, audited, refilled with new work, organized, billing completed, pay calculated and were ready to go back out. The march would begin on Sunday morning. Car after car drove up to the vacuum tubes that used to send deposits back and forth from the bank and now served another purpose. A telemarketer drove up, put his or her telemarketing ID in the tube and it was sent off to Monica in the little glass room. She handed the ID to one of ten runners who would dash off to the mail room, one floor up and over, find the appropriate slot, match it against the name and run the envelope down to Monica. Monica would take out the agreement sheet and read to the telemarketer his or her account balance. Once they agreed, the paper was sent out for their signature and then back to Monica for her signature. Then, at long last, the tube, now filled with the telemarketer’s work, was swooshed out to the waiting telemarketer who emptied the tube and sent it back to Monica to repeat the process. This same process would occur over 500 times until the late evening Sunday. On Monday morning we started the process once again.

Those were the first ever Tethered Communities™. They existed about five years before the Internet. I sold the company. I didn’t want to but the price was too good to ignore and the work was exhausting. Even back then I knew America needed to start developing an intelligent process for moving people from office work to work from home and that they would need to create sound and accountable environments where managers would be assured that their people were productive. We were smartly reducing the need to overbuild structures while continuing the senseless migration of talent moving like nomads across the American landscape looking for each new corporate mecca. We put 500 people to work from home and not one of them lived further than 30 miles from the office and we could have sold anything, anywhere.

I miss the days when my life was that busy and that much fun. I know that I’ve had some amazing adventures in my life because I always wanted to try what I thought no one else had. I never stopped believing that someday America would wake up and start looking for an alternative to the way we conduct work in an effort to reduce in-house costs, gridlock, and dependency on foreign fuel and as a means to stabilize our economy. We are at that place. I can only hope that someone sees this, reads about Tethered Communities™ or decides that the way we do business needs to be recalculated. I’ve been ready for 20 years…now I guess it’s up to someone with the vision and guts to match mine.

Tethered Communities™ is the process of deconstructing everything in a singular fixed job function - or department or elements of a function- from the hardware and software to the emails and conversations to recreate them more efficiently in a remote structure. I created the proprietary mathematical process “nTelegenz®”, which calculates statistical as well as organic values to take apart a work position and reassemble it to be more effective; removing redundancies, compressing activity and eliminating dead time to reduce costs and making them more productive. The real value is that you can pick a Tethered Community up and set it down anywhere and it will operate more effectively than ever. Our program invites companies to move these positions to home offices to create seamless home to work environments but they can work just as well in hotels, airports and even cars.

By creating the proper Tethered Community you are reducing over all pay, easing gridlock, reducing dependency on fuel, creating flexible key positions allowing your company to have a global reach without the cost of global presence while stimulating local home building activity and by way of economics eliminating our need for overseas employment. This is easily one of the smartest economic moves America's corporate entities could approve. The argument of maintaining control and exercising management becomes moot when you compare moving positions to homes in America as opposed to moving offices to India.

We’ve come a long way from color coded shopping carts and an army of “Mail” room specialists. Now we use the Internet, math and analytics to reduce real costs by as much as 3-8% and increase net profits by 2-6%. It was just an idea in the 80’s now it’s a certainty –America will adopt some form of work from home regiment. How we get it done will determine whether we get it right or fumble with the process until someone figures out what we at The Bosson Group already know. You can read about Tethered Communities™ on our website, learn about it in my many white papers or now, you can look us up in the USPTO. Who knows, maybe someone will see this and wonder whether it all makes sense to try it. If you do, contact me. I don’t have the painted shopping carts anymore but I've got the program down to a science. An actual and real science. How cool is that?

Frank Bosson
President, The Bosson Group
209 642 2821

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