Darryl Ferdinand is CEO of Best Phone Numbers, which leases and sells vanity phone numbers like 1-800-800-CARS. | Contributed photo
Park Ridge company offers vanity phone numbers
Personalized or vanity license plates have long been an option for car owners, but one Park Ridge-based company has found a niche by offering vanity telephone numbers.
Best Phone Numbers, with an office at 310 Busse Hwy., leases and sells phone numbers that, like personalized license plates, set their owners apart from the crowd. But most importantly, they are easy to remember, according to Darryl Ferdinand, CEO of Best Phone Numbers — something that is vital for businesses that rely on phone number recognition.
“When you drive by a billboard at 60 mph and it says 1-800-800-CARS, you are most likely remember it,” Ferdinand said. “When you get a vanity number, the return on the investment is what you’re looking for.”
The monthly fee for renting a phone number can range anywhere from $150 to $1,200. Companies can also buy their own vanity number.
“A real good number could cost $50,000 to $100,000,” Ferdinand explained. “It sounds like a lot of money to an average person, but for a business like a taxi company that gets 1,800 calls a day” it could be worth the expense, he added.
Ferdinand estimates he has sold about 500 phone numbers and currently rents numbers to about 75 different clients across the county. His own company number, 224-200-0000, is obviously of the vanity variety.
Best Phone Numbers provides many phone numbers that use repetition (like 312-888-8888, one of the vanity numbers currently available) or spell out the name of a company. Customers consist largely of attorneys, car dealerships, limousine and taxi companies, insurance companies and ad agencies, Ferdinand said.
But about 10 to 15 percent of his business involves ordinary citizens who just want to choose their own phone number.
“We get people who want an easy-to-remember number for their kids to call in,” Ferdinand explained. These numbers are available for purchase at a cost of $250 to $1,500 he said.
The company also offers other phone features for those who rent numbers. One feature includes call tracking, which allows a company to log onto an online account and determine when customers called and if those calls coincided with, say, a radio advertisement. The system can also record all phone calls so managers can review them, Ferdinand said.
Other features include conference calling, email notification of each time the number is called, caller ID, call blocking and web calling, which allows calls to be made directly from a company’s website.
Ferdinand said he learned how vanity phone numbers can help businesses while he was working at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in the late 1990s. The dealership, Ferdinand discovered, saw a 40 percent increase in customer responses when it advertised using an easy-to-remember vanity number.
The idea of starting his own vanity telephone number business was born and 12 years ago Ferdinand officially started his business, the focus initially on numbers for car dealerships.
Ferdinand explained that the FCC controls a database of all available phone numbers, numbers which are then acquired by telephone companies. Ferdinand, in turn, obtains many of his vanity numbers from the phone companies and other large companies that have access to blocks of thousands of numbers. Sometimes the numbers are free to Ferdinand, sometimes they come with a large cost.
And other times he finds them by just calling a number he thinks would make a good vanity number.
The 1-800-800-CARS number, for example, originally belonged to a doctor’s office in Texas.
“We bought (the number) off of him,” he said.
His office in Park Ridge is responsible for call routing, billing and other paperwork. Some local numbers that are currently available, according to the BestPhoneNumbers.com website, are (630) 333-3333, (708) 800-0000, and 1-USA-222-2222.
The company also launched a nationwide “8 Million Program,” offering localized numbers that end in 800-0000.
“That number is the front door to your business,” Ferdinand said of company phone numbers. “It’s a great return on your investment.”