Online call tracking service helps builders target their advertising.

By BUILDER Magazine Staff

"As business gets tougher, every lead becomes more valuable," says Fred Wright. That's fine with him. Wright is president of Who's Calling (, a Kirkland, Wash., company that tracks calls made to toll-free telephone numbers. He says his mission is "saving lost opportunities," and he has managed to sign up 25 home builders, including familiar names like Forecast Homes, Greystone, Del Webb, and Lennar.

Fred Wright wants to help builders track the return on their advertising dollars. [Photo: Courtesy Who's Calling]

Here's how it works: Phone bills have always listed the numbers of people who call toll-free lines--even those calling from unlisted or blocked numbers. Who's Calling simply captures these numbers in real-time and sends them to an online database created specifically for the customer. "We didn't invent the idea, we just invented the technology that takes advantage of the idea," says Wright. The system even captures calls that aren't answered or get a busy signal, so salespeople can hook prospects that might otherwise slip away. Marketers get constantly updated reports, including a tally of calls to each toll-frenumber; where people are calling from; the busiest call times; and the cost per call. They can receive the reports via e-mail, or view them on a secure Web page.

Roy Moffett, sales and marketing director for Forecast's southern division in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., began using the service in April. He has approached it methodically, publishing 40 toll-free numbers, in various media--online and print home buyers' guides, newspapers and magazines, the company's Web site, even the "Coming Soon" signs posted at future developments--and tracking the responses from each. "I can produce a report telling me the top 10 sources of phone leads, then use it to target my advertising," he says.

Moffett says that builders who want success with this service need to appoint someone to manage it. That person needs to make sure that the toll-free numbers get directed to the right sales office, and that reports get to the people who need them. There should also be a commitment to training salespeople. "You have to nail down the methodology they will use for follow ups," he says.

A basic subscription costs $325 per month for a package of five toll-free numbers, or $89 per month for one, plus long distance charges. For an additional $89 per month you get a service called Caller View, which provides the names and addresses of up to 2,500 callers. Another $399 will get you a recording system called Voice View that lets managers evaluate the performance of sales staff and lets customers rate your staff.

Moffett hasn't tracked his actual return on investment, but thinks the service is worth the price. "It's a tremendous tool," he says. "Now that I track exactly where our sales come from, I manage my marketing dollars more effectively."