"I can't force you to save money, but we'd be delighted to have you as a customer. We're terribly nice people."
It's 10 months since Telecom Plus came third in the Deloitte Indy 100 competition for Britain's fastest-growing companies. In that time, its share price has more than doubled, winning it a loyal following in the City. But still the company's chief executive, Charles Wigoder, uses every opportunity to win new custom: "Who are your current suppliers? Do you know how much we charge?"
Telecom Plus, with a stock market value of £227m, offers cut-price gas, electricity and telecoms services. Plenty of companies have gone into competition against the incumbents - British Gas, the regional electricity companies and BT - but Telecom Plus is different. Since he arrived in the job six years ago, Mr Wigoder has spent almost nothing on advertising. Instead, Telecom Plus relies on word of mouth.
"It's fundamental to our business that we don't spend on advertising. Every penny has to be paid for by our customers," he says.
The company has gained more than 52,000 customers over the past 10 months, taking its total to over 160,000. For a utility company, this is small fry, but because Telecom Plus has spent next to nothing up- front winning new business, it has done wonders for the company's bottom line. Telecom Plus reported in November that half-year profits had almost doubled to £4.9m on sales of £37.2m.
To spread its message, Telecom Plus has hired 12,000 agents. They don't receive any salary but take a small cut from each customer's bill. Like Mr Wigoder, they are encouraged to use every opportunity to promote Telecom Plus. "If they choose to talk to their friends in the pub, at work or in the gym then that's up to them," says Mr Wigoder.
Winning the Deloitte Indy 100 award, he adds, has helped to dispel any suspicions potential customers might have that the company was a fly-by-night operator.Reuse content