Feature Article: ISV Success Hinges On Customer Communications
By Gennifer Biggs, Business Solutions magazine.
Most of you have heard my opinions about the value of working with a small vendor versus a large IT conglomerate. Smaller vendors often remember how they felt when they were too little to be taken seriously and work all that much harder to make their channel partners an integral part of the relationship. Such is the case for Total Computing LLC, the POS-focused solutions provider behind EZ Software Solutions LLC. President Ali Hessaraki knows how he likes to be treated as a business owner, so his company strives to develop strong partnerships with its clients with strong customer communications. While his hands-on approach may seem a bit old-fashioned, it is driving 25% growth for Total Computing, so you may want to listen up.
"Our goal is to be a complete partner on the solutions provider side, so if it is a problem with credit card payments or with video surveillance, we want to take all those calls," explains Hessaraki. The idea of handling all your customers' needs soup to nuts is controversial — the debate over differentiating yourself by building on your core competencies versus the advantages of a full-service IT relationship with customers will rage on well past the end of this article — but for Hessaraki, offering adjacent technologies to customers has served his company well. "I wanted to make sure we get the call first because we don't want to pass along a hot potato, a chance to sell something to our customers. We want to offer everything they need." That mentality is what led Hessaraki to add a software development side (EZ Software) to his solutions provider business (Total Computing). Through EZ Software, Hessaraki launched EZ Dine, a restaurant POS solution, in 2005, and EZ Retail, a POS solution for retail businesses, in 2008. Both have grown from start-up status to supporting nearly 500 customers across 17 states, and after starting in the red in 2005, EZ Dine has enjoyed more than 400% growth in the past six years while EZ Retail saw 200% growth in 2010 alone. In fact, EZ Software has invested heavily in staff to keep up with the growth; what started as a one-man shop now supports 15 employees.