I already posted a story about attending the Long Beach Home and Backyard Show, and how much I enjoyed it. However, there was an “after show” situation that has really annoyed me. Let me tell you about it.
While I was at the show, I stopped by a construction company booth. The company name was listed as “AAA Green Builders.” As I am looking to do some home renovations, I completed a form with my email address and phone number. I did explain the person manning the booth that I was working with my architect to complete my plans, and that I didn’t expect them to be ready for a month or more, so if he was going to contact me, he should wait four to six weeks.
The following Monday (the show was on a weekend) I received a call from someone at AAA Green Builders. He wanted to confirm my appointment. I explained to him that I had not made an appointment, that I was working with my architect, and that I would probably not be ready for four to six weeks, and that he was welcome to call back then.
The next day, Tuesday, I received another call from AAA Green Builders, from a different person. This person also wanted to confirm an appointment. I explained to this new caller the same thing I had explained to the caller the day prior and told him to call back in four to six weeks.
This pattern was repeated at least four or five more times. Each time it was a different person on the call. Each time the person had no idea of my prior conversation with those people I had spoken with previously. And each time the call has come from a different number, and the caller ID was from a different person’s name, but none of the calls came from AAA Green Builders.
This pattern all seemed very strange to me, so I started to do some research. I went to the company’s website. The website does not provide any information on the company other than a name and three addresses – one in Lancaster, one in Rancho Cucamonga and one in Los Angeles. The website does not say if AAA Green Builders is a trademark, a DBA, or the name of a corporation. No other corporate entity is mentioned on the website. There are also no names of executives of the company, or even a history of the company.
I then went onto the Secretary of State for the State of California’s website. No company with the name AAA Green Builders exists. I then went to the US Patent and Trademark Office. I could not find that any company had registered the tradename AAA Green Builders. I was really beginning to wonder who these people are.
A few days later I had to drive up to the San Fernando Valley (a part of Los Angeles) on business. While there, I took the time to drop by the location listed on the AAA Green Builder’s website which is way at the north end of the valley. The building was on old two-story office building that looked as if it was mostly empty. It certainly didn’t look like a construction company office. One of my client’s is in the construction business and if you go to its office, you will see pickup trucks, building materials, construction equipment and other things associated with construction companies. No such things were at the location of AAA Green Builders. I then tried to get into the building. The used the door entry system to ring AAA Green Builders to try to get into the building, but even though I tried five or six times, no one ever answered the intercom system, so I was never actually able to get into the building.
I also checked the Better Business Bureau. I was able to find AAA Green Builders on the BBB website, and not surprisingly, the company has numerous complaints against it for what appear to be rather shady and deceptive business practices. Then I checked the California Contractors State License Board. Finally, I found something. The license on the AAA Green Builders website is registered to Montana Marketing & Sales Inc. That company is registered with the State of California Secretary of State. The CEO, CFO and Director of the company is one Igor Rahlin, with a reported office as the same one that I went to in the San Fernando Valley. Associated with AAA Green Builders is a list of about 20 salespeople.
Now this company has a website, it exhibits at shows, and it has people who make annoying phone calls, but it didn’t seem like a real construction company. What was going on?
A couple of weeks later I received a call from another construction company whom I had also met at the Long Beach Home and Backyard Show. I mentioned to the person who called my strange experience with AAA Green Builders. He explained to me that AAA Green Builders is not really a construction company, but a telemarketing operation. Apparently, they make calls to people who are looking to do home remodeling, set up appointments with various contactors and homeowners, and then pocket some sort of fee for setting up the meeting (and perhaps a commission if the construction company makes a sale).
Now the mystery was solved. This mysterious company with strange offices, no trademark registration, and BBB complaints, appears to be some sort of telemarketing operation. Whether the company actually does any construction work is difficult to know.
Look, I have no problem with telemarketers. Everyone must earn a living and telemarketers would not exist if they were not successful. But I also know that a good CRM system is not that expensive, and if a company’s telemarketers cannot figure out that someone from that company has called and spoken to a prospect the day before, then why would you trust that company to manage your construction project?
This process was also an eye opener for me. I never realized that such a business model exists. Basically, you operate a business that is nothing more than a telemarketing operation for a particular industry, and then you just make appointments for people in that industry, and you earn a fee. Brilliant. However, I must think you could operate that type of business by being more open and honest about the nature of your business, who you are and how you operate.
I admit in writing this article I have made some assumptions about the business which may not be 100% correct. However, I tried to contact the owner of the business to clarify certain things. I was not able to get through to the owner and my voice message was not returned.