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Advice for dealing with vanity number Vendors
By Bill Quimby on May 1, 2023
The simplest way to explain my role in the vanity number business is to say that we’re the registrar of the toll free world. Sometimes I just say we’re the GoDaddy of the toll free world, though that’s just an analogy, as we’re not affiliated with them or any domain registrar. Most of the other businesses you see are like domain name sellers, exclusively or mostly offering numbers they control.
The first thing you’ll notice is that they are much more expensive. We all understand economics. They’re trying to get as much as possible for their products, which is honestly understandable. They have a desirable piece of property, and their goal is basically to get the most they can for it. You also have to realize, if they gave them away too cheap, they wouldn’t still have the one you want.
Most of my numbers and sales come from the spare pool, and are just $49 because I base my prices on the cost to provide the service, not the value of the numbers. It’s obviously cheaper to get a domain name by registering it yourself than it is to buy it from a broker. But if you really have to have a specific name it’s also important to know if it might be available from a vendor and have a good way to reach them and get the price and terms.
First of all, I wouldn’t link to or refer customers to someone that wasn’t reputable and someone they should be able work with. I don’t control them though so they’re the only ones that can tell you if a number under their control is available and how much it would be. I can often give some input based on my experience which is why I’m writing this but the bottom line is that they’re their numbers.
Some general advice in dealing with vendors
This is good general advice about dealing with any of the vendors.
Don’t over share
The first and probably most important thing is not to share too much information. It’s important to be polite and friendly but be very careful about sharing too much about your business and especially how important it is to you. If a larger company asks the price, the response may be significantly higher. That can also be true though if you come off as huffy or hard to deal with.
Don’t get huffy if their view of the value is way higher than yours
Be honest and tell them if a price is too high, but don’t overreact. Their goal is obviously to get as much as they can for it and if you’re small, just starting a business, you’re probably not the most valuable use for that number and should be looking for an available (cheaper) number. Also if you respond well, you might be able to negotiate it for less, or build your business up and be in a position to purchase it in the future. Blasting them for asking too much, might feel good, but it isn’t going to change their view on anything except you.
Also realize you’re probably not the first person that’s inquired about that number and if they didn’t have a high view of it’s value, it probably wouldn’t be available any more.
Try not to say SELLING numbers
Ask them the fee for the number, and talk about the cost of their service for a specific number. Vanity number vendors provide a valuable service and aren’t just “selling” or “brokering” numbers. They package the number with the toll free service, with marketing services or domain names etc. Some are more sensitive about the language than others and I’ve seen customers shut down simply because they didn’t respect or understand their sensitivity to that. Understanding and looking at it this way will make it easier to work with them.
Time is on your side
This is a big one that most customers don’t realize. This has to take enough time for them to feel like they got the most they could for a number, and you have to take enough time to feel like you got the best deal you could too. But realize you don’t know what other issues might be going on, and even though they might tell you there’s a lot of demand for that number or they’re talking to a couple other law firms about it, they really don’t have other prospects beating down their doors for that number. All the vendors have more numbers than they are able to promote and don’t want to let an interested prospect get away. So don’t be in a rush and keep checking back.
It’s probably more negotiable than they want it to sound.
Their response might look professional, and their email or website might look like a big business, and the price might sound very specific, but you can still negotiate. There is one exception, a phone company that bought a vanity number business several years ago, but I won’t go into that here in the general advice.
You’re not going to negotiate someone down to 10-20% of what they were asking. If you offered that you would be telling the vendor you’re not worth their time. They’re negotiable but it’s not a garage sale. Our view on Toll Free Numbers Pricing
Everything is Negotiable
By “everything” I mean more than just the fee or price. You could need a longer start up or ramp up period, or a shorter term or buyout. You might need other services or certain billing provisions. It’s important to think about these things up front as much as possible.
If you can’t afford it now you can always revisit this in the future. It’s easier to switch toll free numbers than almost anything else, because you keep the old one and just add the new one to new advertising going forward. That way you don’t lose benefit or calls from the old one.
Know what you want but take what you can get
Ask me questions
They’re outside organizations but I’ve worked with some of them for quite a while and know this business. My goal is to help you get the best number for your business whether it’s from a vendor or directly from us.
Your Feedback is important!
Everyone says that these days, but with 3rd party vendors like this it’s definitely more important than other situations. I may be able to diplomatically pass things on to them and really want to help customers here as much as possible in this, hence these pages.
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