What Fuels POS Growth
Dalcom Consulting, Inc. plans to add more sales and service employees this year to handle its expected $2 million boost in POS (point of sale) sales revenue.
When was the last time you could say your company experienced rapid sales growth? For Dalcom Consulting, Inc., it’s been the past three years. In 2005, this VAR/integrator/software developer grew sales 100%, and the same is expected this year. According to company President John Greene, much of that growth is due to Dalcom’s increased emphasis on POS technology.
POS technology is nothing new for Dalcom. In 1997, the company began as a consulting firm that subcontracted POS training and installation services to another VAR. During the next few years, though, the company grew by focusing more on adding and selling Microsoft accounting and inventory software, 3Com IP (Internet Protocol)-based phone systems, and PC, server, and network support services. In fact, it was the company’s growing base of retail customers using the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP (enterprise resource planning) software that led Dalcom to become a POS VAR in 2002. (Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP was developed specifically for small and midmarket organizations. It integrates financial, manufacturing, distribution, customer management, supply chain, analytic, and e-commerce data into one solution.) “Today, every one of our 20 employees is somehow focused on expanding or maintaining our retail POS business,” Greene says. “They have to be, since the demand is so high due to many retailers wanting to refresh the IT and POS equipment purchased for Y2K. We’ve also seen an increase in SMB customers purchasing our retail software products such as those from Triversity and Dynamics NAV.” The latter clients tend to want a total solution that includes POS systems and related support services. Dalcom gives its clients that type of solution by offering everything from servers to POS terminals and all of the associated services.
Offer One Call For POS Break/Fix Service
Every VAR understands the importance of service these days, but what services you offer and how you deliver them can impact your customers’ satisfaction. And in today’s Internet-driven world, the last thing you need is a fickle customer.
Dalcom is lucky. Almost 50% of the company’s POS revenue comes from hardware sales, with the remaining 50% split between software sales and service. Many VARs earn much less revenue from hardware. Greene understands this fact, which is why he has put so much work into developing and promoting the company’s help desk and break/fix managed services.
For break/fix repair services, Dalcom has technicians who are dispatched from its headquarters in Greensboro, NC, and three other remote offices. These technicians cover customers in NC, SC, VA, WV, and TN. The company’s plan is to add more of these technicians this year. Greene says he has no formal plans to become a national service center, although he will always consider adding service capabilities outside the current geography as customer demand requires it.
During the past few years, Dalcom has achieved the label of servicing partner with some of its POS vendors, which has boosted the company’s credibility. If a Dalcom technician can’t fix a product or if the product is under warranty, Dalcom coordinates the whole return process for the customer. For IBM and NCR products, Dalcom sells service contracts through ScanSource. “Our customers appreciate knowing that no matter what the repair or problem, they only need to make one call to us, and we will manage all of the details,” Greene says.
Enhance Your Help Desk Capabilities
Growth is also in the works for Dalcom’s help desk, which was started in 2002. The company plans to add three more full-time help desk employees this year. “We normally have five or six employees working the help desk each day,” explains Tim Lindsay, VP of sales and marketing at Dalcom. “When help desk employees aren’t on the phone, they are often helping stage current projects being prepared for clients. Since we’re a small business, everyone is really a help desk employee. We’re all trained for that kind of job, and most of the employees we hire have experience in the retail market.”
Dalcom offers two levels of help desk support. Level 1 is direct-to-store support in which stores call directly into Dalcom’s help desk. This level is perfect for retailers that don’t have an internal IT staff to diagnose problems. Level 2 is help-desk- to-help-desk support, in which a store calls its own central support center, which performs some level of diagnosis. If the problem persists, the central support center calls Dalcom’s help desk for final resolution.
Lindsay says Monday is the busiest day for the help desk, and the most common calls concern a credit card connection that is down, a crashed hard drive, or an OS error. The help desk personnel troubleshoot the problems by connecting to the users’ systems using remote control software such as PC Anywhere, VNC, or Remote Desktop. If the problem is hardware related, a technician is dispatched to the site. Lindsay says, though, that the majority of problems are fixed over the phone or via remote access. “Having our help desk open 24/7 shows our clients we are committed to solving their problems. By developing that kind of trust, our clients are more likely to spend more of their IT dollars with us and to recommend us to other clients.”
Refocus Your POS Sales Approach
In addition to focusing on building its help desk and break/fix services, Dalcom needed some changes to its sales strategy and workforce. In the early days of the company, certain employees would focus on selling for an extended period of time and follow that up with an intense period of installing the recently sold systems. During the installation phase, though, the selling would stop.
When Lindsay joined the company in January 2006, there was only one person assigned to full-time sales. Now, the two of them are focused on sales, and the plan is to add additional experienced salespeople dedicated to the company’s key markets. Lindsay also plans to develop a formal marketing plan to help boost the leads the company receives from vendors and word of mouth. That plan, the additional service and sales employees, and the company’s POS software packages are what Greene says will help his company grow by $2 million this year. “Our biggest challenge is finding enough qualified employees in this specialized type of business to handle our rapid growth,” he concludes.