Person on their phone: TCPA compliance for multi-location businesses

Non-negotiable: TCPA compliance for multi-location businesses

April 25, 2024
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has significantly raised the bar on TCPA compliance for multi-location businesses. Their move in December 2023 to close the “lead generation loophole” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) puts consumer protection from unsolicited calls and spam texts at the forefront.

If your company operates multiple locations, franchises, or relies heavily on telemarketing for lead generation, it’s time for a reality check. Gone are the days when local operators could coast through lead collection and management. Robust systems tracking consumer consent are now mandatory to avoid costly violations and fines.

The consequences of non-compliance are severe, as Keller Williams and Allstate have learned the hard way. Keller Williams paid a staggering $40 million settlement last year for illegal robocalling practices. And now, they face another class-action lawsuit alleging failure to properly communicate do-not-call requests across brokerages. Allstate, too, faced liability for calls made by independent sales agents operating under their brand.

The writing is on the wall: Multi-location brands can no longer distance themselves from TCPA risks behind flimsy contractor relationships or outdated compliance loopholes. Failure to bring marketing strategies into strict adherence with these tightened regulations leaves companies vulnerable to penalties that could devastate their bottom line.

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The Keller Williams and Allstate sagas

The cautionary tales of Keller Williams and Allstate underscore the urgent need for TCPA compliance for multi-location businesses. Keller Williams, a national real estate brokerage, faced the harsh realities of non-compliance. After paying $40 million to settle a TCPA lawsuit over illegal robocalls in 2023, they are now embroiled in another class-action suit.

The latest allegations?

Keller Williams failed to properly communicate do-not-call requests across its network of brokerages. This meant some agents continued calling individuals who had already asked not to be contacted – a blatant TCPA violation (learn more about the latest allegations here). Reminiscent of Dish Network’s nine-figure penalty for similar conduct.

But Keller Williams is not alone in its TCPA compliance struggles for multi-location businesses. Allstate, the insurance giant, also faced the consequences of independent sales agents making calls under their brand name. Despite the contractor relationship, courts increasingly hold corporations accountable when improperly overseen marketers represent their brands.

A Pennsylvania court exemplified this stance in a 2024 ruling against Keller Williams. The court denied Keller Williams’ attempt to avoid jurisdiction, citing their control over agent marketing and operations through a mandated “System.” This control established a sufficient connection for liability, even if employees didn’t directly make the calls.

These cases highlight the harsh truth that traditional compliance loopholes no longer sufficiently protect TCPA compliance for multi-location businesses. Comprehensive action is required to meet the heightened standards and avoid costly penalties.

Achieving TCPA compliance: A comprehensive approach

The FCC’s tightened telemarketing regulations leave no room for complacency in TCPA compliance for multi-location businesses. To avoid the pitfalls of companies like Keller Williams and Allstate, a comprehensive review and overhaul of lead collection, management, and utilization processes is crucial.

Businesses must take the following steps:

  • Implement robust consent tracking systems: Establishing robust systems to accurately track consumer consent for marketing communications is paramount. This includes capturing consent sources, revocation requests, and maintaining meticulous records.
  • Align all marketing practices: A comprehensive audit of all marketing practices, from lead generation to sales outreach, is necessary to ensure full alignment with the new TCPA regulations. Any non-compliant activities must be promptly identified and rectified.
  • Enhance cross-location communication: For multi-unit operations, seamless communication of consumer preferences (e.g., do-not-call requests) across all locations is vital. Breakdowns in this process can lead to costly violations, as evidenced by the allegations against Keller Williams.
  • Prioritize continuous training: Ongoing training and education programs should be implemented to ensure all personnel involved in marketing and sales operations understand and adhere to TCPA compliance protocols. This includes corporate staff, franchisees, and local operators.

Failing to implement these comprehensive measures puts multi-location businesses at significant risk of incurring substantial fines, legal challenges, and reputational damage. The cost of non-compliance far outweighs the investment required for TCPA compliance.

The future of compliant multi-location marketing

As multi-location businesses grapple with the complexities of TCPA compliance, Evocalize aims to help streamline compliant marketing efforts. Our innovative software empowers corporate teams to create centralized, pre-approved ad templates that are locked for compliance. Local operators can then customize certain aspects of these templates to tailor messaging for their regions while still operating within clearly defined brand and legal guardrails.

Evocalize blueprints locked down

This balanced approach allows for both top-down oversight and localized execution — the ideal combination for adhering to stringent TCPA rules across multi-unit operations. By bridging the gap between national compliance standards and on-the-ground marketing needs, platforms like Evocalize effectively future-proof marketing strategies against evolving regulations. As the costs of non-compliance escalate, such purpose-built solutions will become essential for multi-location businesses committed to compliantly driving growth.

Also, the closing of the “lead generation loophole” adds another level of complexity for compliance requirements for multi-location marketers. As a reminder, the new FCC rules require one-to-one consent from a consumer to share their contact info with a business. For lead aggregators, this means the consumer will need to select each company one-by-one if they want to be contacted by that business.

If you purchase leads from lead aggregators, most likely the cost of leads is going to increase since it won’t be as easy to collect consumer info. This is why we strongly recommend starting now to begin setting up your own lead generation. Feel free to learn more about how Evocalize can drive leads for your business with the power of local digital marketing.

TCPA compliance for multi-location businesses

The FCC’s move to close the “lead generation loophole” serves as a wake-up call for multi-location businesses. Entities operating multiple units through franchises, dealer networks, or affiliated locations can no longer turn a blind eye to the potential TCPA compliance pitfalls in their marketing and lead generation practices.

The cautionary tales of Keller Williams’ multi-million dollar settlements and Allstate’s court battles make one truth abundantly clear: traditional compliance loopholes and fragmented marketing oversight are untenable in today’s environment. Multi-unit brands will be held accountable for TCPA violations committed under their brand umbrella.

New FCC rules & the future of lead generation

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