‘Sell To The Big Ones'
That's the philosophy of IDenticard Systems, Inc., which installed a $100,000 membership ID solution for seven Cincinnati YMCAs. How did IDenticard land such a major account? With a simple cold call.
IDenticard, based in Lancaster, PA, installs and integrates security identification and electronic access control systems. Established in 1970, IDenticard maintains direct sales and technical assistance offices in 29 cities throughout the United States and Canada. The privately held corporation employs 150 people.
IDenticard discovered the Cincinnati YMCA's need while searching for new accounts. "We look for any opportunity through cold calling," Schafer said. "We ask people if they need help with security, access control systems and bar coding. We start with the big ones and work our way down."
Competitor Learns That The Truth Hurts
IDenticard had serviced other YMCAs before, but none the size of Cincinnati - seven fitness centers with 75,000 members. Keeping accurate tabs on those members had become a cumbersome task. The YMCA needed to produce color ID badges for its patrons for identification and access to its facilities. Also, the system had to be integrated with the Y's current IBM AS/400 computer system and customized Y-Metro member-management software. Previously, ID cards were produced with an instant camera, cutter, laminator and paper card.
To solve this problem, IDenticard installed uniform equipment at the seven YMCAs. The systems included IVIS® Plus software, AGFA 307 digital cameras with tripods, and Zebra Technologies' Eltron series P300 card printers. The IVIS software offered a variety of technologies including PVC, ink jet, laserjet and micro dry.
Working with Dwight Blubaugh, the Cincinnati YMCA director of information services, the system was integrated with the Y's current hardware and software. "When we first called, we were referred to Dwight to find out what they (the Cincy YMCAs) were doing," Schafer said. "They were shopping at the time for an ID system and had already talked with one of our competitors. But we had more options in our system, and our competitors misrepresented their experience with the Y-Metro program. They said they had attached their system to Y-Metro in Pittsburgh, but that wasn't the case. The door was already open about two feet wide for us, but that opened it another foot."
Schafer said IDenticard serviced the YMCAs by loaning them software trials and maintaining regular communication with Blubaugh. "He saw multiple products and drove the idea home to his bosses," Schafer said. "He was very helpful on that front; actually, he was invaluable. An installation is rarely going to happen if you don't have the support of someone internal. If we didn't, our tech support people would have to learn their system and then do all the testing."
System Facilitates Improved Cash Flow
The new system cut in half the time necessary to produce an ID card and improved the quality of the card. The imaging system took only 90 seconds to capture a photo and print a plastic card. In addition, digital photos could be cropped, lightened, darkened or enlarged to be used in photo directories. The YMCA also reported that members actually enjoyed participating in and watching the issuance process.
More importantly, the bar coding on the card helps the YMCA keep track of its members. The IVIS Plus software attached to the open database connectivity (ODBC) data source and provided the ability to search for information, design badges and update data. Also, the system could print badges in several formats automatically based on data entered or residing in the central AS/400 database. Those records can be accessed from any YMCA in the Cincinnati network.
Delinquent accounts and renewals have also been affected. In the first two months the system was operating, each branch reported an average of six rectified delinquent accounts. At $500 per membership, that's an overall recovery of $21,000. The new card system has also sped up the renewal process. Beginning a few weeks before their membership expires, members are reminded about that expiration date each time they visit the Y. Then, instead of renewing after the membership has expired, members pay up front, increasing the YMCA's cash flow. In the past, many members paid one or two months after their membership had expired.
IDenticard, YMCAs Nationwide To Talk About Additional Installation Opportunities
Expansion of the current Cincinnati YMCA system is certain, Schafer said. An eighth location is currently being added to the network and four more branches are expected to join soon. Upgrading the current system is likely as well. "We're now bar coding the membership numbers, but the next step is to install swipe readers on the door," he said.
The new ID cards may also help the YMCAs collect demographic information. "For example, if they see that single men visit weeknights between 8 and 10 p.m., they can tailor their marketing program based on that fact," Schafer said. Quite fittingly, the Cincinnati YMCA account is now opening doors for IDenticard. "We have done individual stand-alone systems in other cities, but Cincinnati was the largest sale we ever had to a YMCA," Schafer said. "We just had a meeting with another large YMCA in the region about their Y-Ware system which is a different version of Y-Metro."
IDenticard will have an opportunity to talk with Y-Metro users from around the country when they participate in an upcoming YMCA conference in Florida. "Dwight will be a presenter, and we will be there to assist him," Schafer said. "He'll display the networking capabilities by remotely attaching to the system in Cincinnati."