Paul Faust is Co-Founder and President of RingBoost, the nation’s largest marketplace for custom phone numbers. Paul is a serial entrepreneur and a thought leader on how business owners can use voice connection to grow their companies. Paul Faust joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded RingBoost our Impact Company of 2019 award, and we are delighted to have Paul join us for our Leader Round Table Interview.
The RingBoost story is fascinating: phone numbers are both something that we all have experience with and yet probably had no idea that a thriving business can be built around them as a product. We are very excited to not only speak with Paul about the business and how he has built it to be the industry leader, but also put him through our popular speed round as well.
Paul, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview, and answering some questions about leadership, your vision, and your passion.
1. What is the “elevator pitch” for RingBoost?
RingBoost helps businesses increase lead generation, improve conversion rates, grow customer loyalty, and build their brands through the use of memorable phone numbers. We’re a one-stop-shop for local and toll-free numbers including vanity, easy-dial, exhausted area codes, and tracking numbers.
2. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give CEO’s just starting out regarding keeping a company moving forward, and please tell us the key to your company’s success?
Partnerships have played a huge role in RingBoost’s success. We have API, affiliate, and reseller partners on the front end. We work with marketing, advertising and IT consultancies to assist with their clients. On the back end, we work with telecom providers to get exclusive access to greater pools of numbers as well as offer a better selection to their clients, helping them open new revenue streams. Our partnership network is not only about diversification, it’s about creating strong relationships that accelerate growth.
For startups, you need to leverage systems that already exist to gain momentum. You must think about where your target audience already goes to find information about products and services and show up there. It could be as simple as going to a trade show or it could be something more unique like growth hacking. You have to get your story out there and find partners who will help amplify it.
3. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
When times get challenging, you have to remember why you started the business. What inspired you to start it? What is the uniqueness that you’re offering the marketplace? Reconnect with those founding reasons and stay the course.
You find in a lot of businesses where people were hoping for a get-rich-quick scheme and weren’t passionately committed to the founding premise that when times get challenging, they will crumble or head for greener pastures. Think about the refi boom as an example: everyone went into the mortgage business, and the ones who did it because it was the hot thing to do (not because real estate was their passion) they went out of business.
So, if you really believe in what you’re doing: tighten your belt and don’t give up. Keep your vision intact but listen to feedback and make refinements as needed. Adjust your approach and work a little harder. When you get through it, you’ll be stronger on the other side. And, there will be fewer warriors on the battlefield.
4. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at RingBoost, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
I see this as two different questions because to me “client satisfaction” is the bare minimum hurdle. A satisfied client implies a transactional relationship where minimum expectations have been met. Someone who walks into a 7-11 to get a Slurpee and walks out with a Slurpee is satisfied. To us, a satisfied client means we did what we told them we would do. If there is anything less than a satisfied client, we messed up.
I don’t want a “satisfied” client, I want clients that connect with us, who know us personally, who know us by name. I want them to feel a wow factor. I want them to think, “They really took the time to get to know me and my business and honestly tried to help me.” It’s all about the relationship, not the transaction. Satisfaction is just the starting line.
To get beyond satisfaction to raving fans, we put the effort in. We spend as much time as we need with them and guide them. We consult with them to pick the best custom number or set of numbers that will help them achieve their goals, and then we go further. We give ideas in marketing, connect, educate, give further resources, and make recommendations. We often invest time well beyond the value of the sale itself because we know it builds a lasting relationship.
It’s not that someone who spends more money gets more time. Everybody is somebody’s somebody. I don’t care if they are spending $300 or $10,000. They might never buy another vanity number in their life and that’s okay. But if one of their friends or contacts needs one, they will recommend RingBoost. If we need an idea or a favor, we now have that goodwill where we can reach out. We are not vendor and buyer but business partners who care about the success of each other’s companies.
5. What is the one thing RingBoost does to have great communication with their customers?
We provide them as many different ways to communicate with us as possible. They can call. They can email. They can text. They can chat. We open as many possible avenues, so they can communicate how they want.
And at the same time, we are proactive in communicating with them. We reach out and follow up. We post articles that we think will help them with their businesses. We care about growing their businesses. I’m a resource for my client, so I want them to call me about anything. And not just about phone numbers. I will try to help them or connect them with the right resources, people, or other companies that can help them.
We also talk to our team regularly to foster this attitude within our culture – that we care more about the relationship than the transaction. We reinforce this message repeatedly, and it’s part of how we judge employee performance.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
One of the nice things about our business and our business model is that the technology and delivery of what we do doesn’t change rapidly. Communicating via voice and using phone numbers to grow businesses and retain customers is a tried-and-true method unlike a digital marketing or an SEO company, where the pathway to success is a moving target.
Our challenge is to not let the message of voice get lost with the new technologies and shiny toys that can distract people from the basics. We have to constantly communicate with our client base and educate them. Part of that storytelling is staying on top of what is happening in their industries and in emerging industries. So, we do what most people do: we read a lot, attend conferences, join group discussions, participate in social media, listen to podcasts and so on. We pay attention not just for what will serve our business, but what will serve our clients’ businesses.
One of the things that I think all entrepreneurs should strive for is not just paying attention to the changes around you but figuring out how you can be the change. What will truly make you stand out. We are constantly looking at what’s going on to stay ahead in this fast-paced world, but we’re also looking to change that world. We constantly ask ourselves, “How can our assets, our numbers, become better? Is there a new way to deliver them? Is there a different way we can monetize them?” We’re trying to not just be successful, but to be leaders.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead RingBoost?
I love the fact that while it seems like I do only one thing there is actual incredible variety in my day. We work with every kind of company you can imagine from Fortune 500 giants to small mom-and-pop business owners. I get to work across all industries and all company sizes. They all have unique languages, challenges, opportunities, and goals. Every single day is different for me. I could be talking to a lawyer with a massive marketing play and the next call is a local dog walker who is just starting out.
At RingBoost, we’re only bound by our own creativity and marketing ability. There aren’t any limits to who we can market and sell it to. At its core, we monetize intellectual property assets to create value for clients. We make our own rules. We can give away numbers, license them, barter, sell. We’re not bound by anything, and we have a unique opportunity to have an impact on other people’s lives. That’s exciting to me.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
“Make Your Bed” by Admiral William McRaven. It’s all about the little things that we do that have major impacts in our lives and other people. He talked about how the most elite of the Navy Seals – the first thing they do is make their bed. In the first moment of the day, they have already accomplished something, which paves the way to the next accomplishment. Each little thing you do is part of the path that impacts you and those around you, so be purposeful about it. And, if nothing else happens, you come home to a made bed, which is pretty nice in and of itself.
9. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at RingBoost?
It sounds simple, but I work hard to make sure they understand what I’m telling them, and they buy into it.
Sometimes people interpret what you say in their own way. You must make sure that there aren’t wrong assumptions happening that could derail efforts. And, you need your team to be motivated, which means you can’t just dictate to them, you need to make them part of the process and have buy-in. I may bring the idea forward, but it’s not my thing, it’s our thing.
I try to ask for their feedback at the beginning and then keep asking for feedback. I check back in, ask how it’s going. Are there any objections? Let’s work together to overcome them. Are there unexpected challenges? Is there a new angle that is more efficient? You should keep actively involved. Don’t just drop a directive and wait for the deadline to come. Growing a company isn’t a static thing, it needs to be attended to, every day.
10. In one sentence, can you give some advice to fellow entrepreneurs wishing to build a company as exciting as RingBoost?
Don’t listen to naysayers.
What I mean by that is: if you have done your research and you really believe in what you’re doing, don’t let someone else’s pessimism or envy derail you from your ambition. Do you know how many people told me that phone numbers were archaic and were going to be irrelevant? A lot. And here we are nearly 15 years later, still growing at a good clip. Many of those detractors were part of dot-coms and trendy companies that have since gone out of business. Just as you can’t grow your own business on gut feel alone, you shouldn’t doubt your business on someone else’s gut feel either.
We would like to have some fun and do a “Speed Round” with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, what makes a successful leader?
Lead from front.
2. Describe your business in one word?
3. Describe your customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about your company?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion
Think outside box
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful
No zero days
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at RingBoost
Bound by nothing
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you
Freedom to choose
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language
Paul Faust, Thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Leader Round Table. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping others learn more about what it takes to be a leader. We hope your interview helps our readers, and we wish you, your family, and of course RingBoost, nothing but the best. Thanks again!
Paul Faust, President of RingBoost, The Leader Roundtable Interview Series