Special Report Tama Marketer of the Year: And the finalists are… Felton: at home in the service business

Richard FeltonPresidentHomeService ClubRichard Felton literally grew up in the business. And, it grew up around him.Felton remembers the day his dad Harry started HomeService Club.And he really has done every job from mailroom clerk to packing boxes, including driving around Saturdays...

Richard Felton

President

HomeService Club

Richard Felton literally grew up in the business. And, it grew up around him.

Felton remembers the day his dad Harry started HomeService Club.

And he really has done every job from mailroom clerk to packing boxes, including driving around Saturdays with his dad on house inspections, when other kids and dads were off to the ballpark.

Felton’s HomeService Club of 1994 is a far cry from what Harry Felton started and sweated at for seven years until the concept took off.

Instead of just home repairs, it’s more of a home protection/ group benefits club. Its 40,000-plus members enjoy group rates for home and car insurance, mortgages at 1/8% reductions with no transfer fees, heating oil discounts, and more.

Felton is particularly proud of the whopping 42% long-distance discount for members on all their calls. And, why not? There’s no smoke and mirrors, no turning in your friends, no foggy discount formulas, and no Candice Bergen.

Just 42% off. Period. HomeService Club members put nearly $80,000 worth of calls through long-distance reseller acc’s system weekly.

But, the club’s main revenue is still commission from contractors.

Felton says it’s great for tradespeople – with a reduced cost per lead, a 65% closure rate (vs 30% or less), and guarantee certificate from the club on every job.

And, it’s greater than ever for members, because the club now has ways to catch problems before they happen, instead of making good after the fact.

In Felton family tradition, Richard remains an entrepreneur right down to the club’s marketing communications.

‘We put our own ideas into the business,’ Felton says. ‘For our ads, we get involved in the writing of the ad.’

Felton tempers this client-from-hell statement with a heartening comment:

‘Political correctness is a problem in advertising,’ he says. ‘Advertising has to have humor and a lot of marketers have lost this.’

You won’t catch Felton badmouthing competitors, though.

He wonders why Pepsi wanted to remind consumers that Coke even exists, and vice-versa.

And, we won’t be seeing frills or frou-frous in HomeService Club ads. Just straight common sense. ‘ `Fancy’ doesn’t sell,’ Felton says.

Of tama’s 1994 credo, ‘Bullish on Basics,’ Felton says:

‘We are not reinventing the wheel, we are redirecting it,’ he says. ‘I don’t think there are any new ideas. I think we recycle old ones.’

Felton remarks on how Murad has recycled billboards painted on the sides of buildings, and made it seem fresh. ‘If it sounds logical, do it,’ he says. ‘If it makes sense, do it.’

In fact, Richard Felton is fiercely proud of his fundamental nature.

‘I am a very basic person,’ he says. ‘The businesses that are alive today after the recession are the ones that got back to basics, or never lost them.’

Felton is genuinely complimented by what some business types might view as the ultimate insult.

‘[Basic] is the best thing anyone has called me in a long time,’ he says.