The Importance Of Hardware Support Services

Businesses go in for the latest IT networks for more efficient business. With higher efficiency the business can achieve higher profitability. Setting up or even upgrading your network, hardware and software is not an easy task. You have to choose the right company for the supply of hardware and software that will give you a perfect set up and maintained platform for your business.

Private and public companies have to choose between the right IT suppliers. For them, to get a single supplier of hardware and software is like a dream come true; as it will simplify processes and communication. However, for this to happen the company has to make sure that the unique supplier is also able to deliver different types of services promptly and efficiently. A company hiring a supplier will look for a guarantee of reliability and quality; which comes if the latter has partnerships with major multinational computer hardware and software companies/manufacturers like IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Fortinet Firewall etc.

A good service provider offers greater accountability of your businesses’ IT needs. Issues like server problems, hardware malfunctions, and the worst network crashes stand to be resolved quickly. A professional IT support company will address these problems promptly and diligently, they will be solved with minimum delay, hence causing very little loss of time. Time saved is often referred to as money made, and an expert IT company will let you do just that. Overcome network clogs quickly and run uninterrupted towards completing targets.

An IT support and services company that provides complete and end to end network, hardware and software solutions, will probably service you with primary services like Internet, Intranet, Extranet (VPN and encryption, VoIP, etc.). Also they will work on the design, construction and maintenance of local area networks (LAN) and geographical (WAN). They will sell, install and support basic and application software and hardware support. Data support and data storage systems are other services that are extremely essential and are provided by these companies. So whatever be your business genre, be that finance, legal, construction, retail, government or leisure, technical support can make things a lot faster and easier, with these services:

* Networking
* Servers
* Storage
* Desktops and Laptops
* Printers

When you have chosen a reliable IT support company, then you can just sit back and relax as the experts are there to handle all such issues. They employ highly trained technicians and consultants that are skilled enough to handle basic network implementations to more complex and large scale deployments. Staff are usually certified by the biggest vendors in the industry and is given training to keep them up to date with changes and developments. This allows them to deliver enhanced support services without compromising on quality.

These support and service companies will provide you with the best suited software for your needs. This will let you work better and faster. One more service provided by these companies is training. Since they are the experts, when it comes to any hardware or software issues, they can impart some of their skills to the employees too. They can either train the employees on a new software, or as complex as utilizing a network to increase efficiency.

The Business of Construction – The Lessons of Purchasing Cheap Tools For the Trade

Anyone who has ever been in the construction industry, or has run a small business using tools, knows that there is a big difference between the tools of the trade, and the tools you can buy for small jobs around the house as a consumer. The durability, safety, and price are completely different. Although the tools are used for essentially the same type of job, you will note that a ratchet set might be good for building a barbecue that you just bought at Home Depot, but it won’t work too well, for too long if you are working on a farm equipment.

This issue is that if put too much to strength into the ratchet, it will break, and it’s not just the ratchet-sets for $29, with 40 pieces, which come at of some country in Asia, there are other manufacturers in other parts of the world that also sell to the US market. The reality is it can also be dangerous using such tools, because when they break they often catch the operator off guard, or the event of an electrical tool they can catch fire, or break themselves apart – and don’t laugh, it’s happened to me, and if you’ve been in construction for any length of time, I am certain this has happened to you as well.

Now normally, it will not cause an injury because you jump back and throw the tool on the ground. And you curse and swear, and promise to never buy another cheap product again in your life, but that’s hard to do considering the very low cost compared to the other professional tools. One trend we are seeing is that many smaller subcontractors are hiring labor that doesn’t know the difference, doesn’t care, or are just buying a tool for one or two jobs. They end up buying the cheap stuff and paying for it later.

An Interesting White Paper to read on this topic, one which was actually featured in Commercial Construction Management Bulletin Magazine is; “Why Using Consumer Hardware Can Cost Your Business More in the Long Run,” by Motorola Corporation. The paper is designed to help “companies which are investing in mobile technology, consumer-grade PDAs and smart phones, which have undeniable appeal, but it’s much wiser to invest in rugged, enterprise-grade devices otherwise it will cost your company more in the long run.

You see, the reality is that the tools now are getting more high-tech with laser levelers, plasma torches, and all sorts of tricky electronic gadgets. They save time, and help with the precision that is often needed for quality job. But don’t buy the imitations or cheap stuff, or you’ll be sorry and you’ll have to buy them all over again, thus, you’ve wasted your money. Please consider all this.

Business Health, Wealth and Workers

Condensed highlights are only a glimpse of the many incredible accomplishments from the life of this prolific entrepreneur. Many may ask, “What inspires and enables a man to achieve so much in a single lifetime?” To this question he has demonstrated the answer in actions as well as his own words. His business success was founded on a genuine commitment to the workers. From humble beginnings and a romantic quest, he was lifted to astounding success on the shoulders of the workers and the values that he supported. See if you can recognize this man by his accomplishments before you get to the last paragraph.

Problems in work clothes . . . .

From his humble beginnings as a cashier in a dry goods shop in Utica, New York, this future entrepreneur moved many times in the pursuit of hardware business and photography. At an early age he met and feel in love with a girl in New York society. He expressed a desire to marry her, but the girl’s father insisted that the young man establish himself and become financially stable enough to support his daughter properly. Thus began a search that would take him to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where in 1912 he established a road paving business in Washington state and British Columbia.

By 1914 he won his first California paving contract and established headquarters in Oakland, California. Demonstrating his prowess as a true leader, he created an innovative management structure that stressed good pay for workers. As are result of motivational compensation, the California road paving contract was completed under budget and ahead of schedule. This success paved the way for more opportunities in government sponsored programs to build roads and infrastructure.

The workers responded to the supportive management style with creativity and collaboration. At that time cement powder, four times more fine than cosmetic face powder, was created by a refining process at the quarry and packaged in bags. The bags of cement were then carried by truck to be mixed and poured at the site. The company engineers designed an improved process that allowed them to refine and mix the cement at the building site, vastly improving the efficiency of the production. This innovative process was used on one of the more notable contracts won by the growing company, the Hoover Dam (Boulder Dam) on the Colorado River. The Hoover Dam is a monument to hard work and creative engineering.

Surrounded by smarter people . . . .

The company continued to win more contracts, including the building of the Bonneville, Grand Coulee, and Shasta Dams. They built natural gas pipelines in the Southwest, Mississippi River levees and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge underwater foundations. The workers were inspired by the freedom and motivation to develop enhanced production techniques, which became famous at the shipyards in Richmond, California, Ryan Point (Vancouver) and the Columbia River in Washington. During World War II, the workers used these production techniques to generate one cargo ship every 30 days, rapidly increasing the size of the naval cargo fleet. These concepts for mass production are still in use today. As a means to care for the health and benefits of the workers at the Richmond, California shipyard, the company pioneered the idea for a now well recognized HMO program.

As a real estate magnate, he founded the Honolulu Suburban community of Hawaii Kai, where a public High School still bears his name. He also developed a community in Panorama City near Los Angeles.

The entrepreneur continued to test his boundaries, and in 1945 he established a new automobile company in Willow Run, Michigan. Production began in abandoned facility that had been used to build aircraft during World War II. Ten years later they moved production to plants in Brazil and Argentina. These South American operations were subsequently sold to a Ford-Renault combine. In 1970 he sold the Willy’s Motors line of Jeep utility vehicles to American Motors Corporation, and Henry decided to leave the automobile business. As a result of the transaction, he acquired 22% interest in AMC.

Still concerned for the health and welfare of his employees, in 1948 he established a non-profit, private operating foundation focused on the major health care issues facing the workers of the nation. The foundation became an independent voice and source of facts and analysis for policymakers, media, the health care community and the general public. It is also responsible for numerous hospitals, medical centers and medical schools.

The Legacy of dreams against the stars . . . .

Henry spent much of his later life with his wife, his first love from New York society, perfecting the urban landscape he designed in Honolulu. Together they founded the Hawaiian Village Hotel, which has become one of the most famous Hilton Resorts in the world. Among other things, this resort contains one of the first commercially practical geodesic domes.

The innovative management style and employee conscious commitments began in the small mining town of Eagle Mountain, California. It was the cement plant that created integrated mining and processing operations which first carried the name Kaiser Permanente. Under the caring leadership of Henry J Kaiser, with stress for good pay and health care to workers, the company expanded into construction, developing communities, the Hoover Dam, aluminum, shipyards, automobiles, and eventually into the first health maintenance organization that still bears the name, Kaiser Permanente.

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Words of Wisdom

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”
- Henry J Kaiser

“I make progress by having people around me who are smarter than I am and listening to them. And I assume that everyone is smarter about something than I am.”
- Henry J Kaiser

“I always have to dream up there against the stars. If I don’t dream I’ll make it, I won’t even get close.”
- Henry J Kaiser

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Seven Keys to a Recession-Proof Business

How a Former Retailer Transformed His Business-and His Life-with an Internet Business…and How You Can, Too

The charming, homey, mom-and-pop business on the corner with the sweet couple who provide personal service. The multibillion-dollar corporation with hefty CEO bonus packages and an army of well dressed executives. What do these two businesses have in common? Not much, you may be thinking. But you’d be wrong. No matter what business you are in or how large it is, you have to be concerned with the economy. That means making sure you take steps to recession proof your business. Companies large and small have fallen victim to the recession. When Microsoft lays off employees, you know it’s a bad economy! It’s more of an issue for some businesses than for others, of course. People will sacrifice a night out on the town, a new pair of shoes, or seeing the latest movie… but they still need toilet paper. And soap. And food! But there are things you can do to ensure that you are at least somewhat immune to the inevitable dips in your customers’ finances.

1. Build up a reserve
From the day you open your business-or starting right now-you need to put money aside in a cash reserve. You don’t want to be looking for loans to make a payroll or to keep the doors open another month. It’s cruel, but true: Those who need credit the least are the most likely to get it. If you wait until you are desperate, you will probably not find what you are looking for. When you find yourself needing money the most-like when I was trying to get a loan to keep my hardware business open-you will have the hardest time finding it. Banks want a guaranteed return on their money. They couldn’t care less about whether you actually need it or not… in fact, even those with good credit can get denied. So when should you stop putting money aside? Never! You can never have too much cash. So if you don’t have a cash reserve, start making it a priority… today! Cut back on non-essentials. Analyze your inventory to make sure you are not overstocking. Cut employee hours by getting by with less staffing during the slow times. Find out the bare minimum you need to survive on, and put any excess revenue into savings. In extreme cases, you may want to try renegotiating the terms of your lease. You can even threaten to break it, if necessary. In these times, it’s a renter’s market. Most likely, there’s a better deal somewhere else… so find it, and use it as a negotiation tool.

2. Continue-or Step Up-Your Marketing Don’t stop marketing yourself… ever.
Unless you want to ensure that you go out of business, that is! Let’s take a look at a few case studies of this in action. MarketSense did a study analyzing the performance of over 100 brand-name household products during the 1989 to 1991 recession. This study came to some very eye-opening conclusions about the importance of advertising:

• Kraft Food’s Jell-O brand, Frito-Lay’s Doritos brand, and J. M. Smucker Company’s Crisco brand had their advertising cut… and sales of each dropped by 26 to 64% from previous levels.
• J. M. Smucker Company increased the amount they spent advertising Jiff peanut butter… and their sales increased by a whopping 57% in a recession.
• In general, consumers bought less beer during that recession-witness the fact that the entire category was down by 1%. But 2 brands -Bud Light and Coors Light-pumped up their advertising, and their sales, too… by 15% and 16%.
• People still have to eat, right? Yes, but they still have choices. McDonald’s cut their advertising budget and watched sales drop 28%. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut increased their spending on advertising… and their sales rose 40% and 61%. Part of that has to do with the fact that the first thing business owners cut in an economic downturn is their advertising and marketing budget.

So those who keep the spending at the same level-or even increase it-end up grabbing a larger share of the market by default. In fact, a McGraw Hill study of the 1981-1982 economic slowdown demonstrated this. They found that businesses that maintained or increased their advertising levels averaged “significantly higher sales growth” than their competitors who cut or ceased advertising-during the slowdown and for the 3 years following it! And don’t think these are isolated studies. There have been studies on this subject dating back to 1923-and each and every one has shown similar results. Those who advertised the most had the most sales. Those who cut or eliminated advertising hurt their sales.

3. Pay Attention
Many business owners are so absorbed in the day-to-day running of their businesses that they don’t look up to see what is happening in the world. That is a big mistake. Things change, and we have to change with them (or risk getting left behind). If you stay on top of developments in your industry and in the world in general, you can anticipate trends, changes, and new consumer tastes. For instance, you can discontinue carrying some items that aren’t selling. You can identify the next big thing and position yourself to take advantage of it. Remember, too, that you never know where inspiration can come from. Sometimes an innovation in another industry can be applied to yours. Sometimes a seemingly random news story or occurrence can spark a million-dollar idea. Sometimes a customer’s comments can lead the way to greater profitability. In fact, it’s a good idea to solicit your customers’ feedback on a regular basis. You can do this in the form of surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups. In addition, your front-line employees can see things that you can’t. Reward them for suggestions that actually increase sales. The more you do it, the more good suggestions you will get in return. It just takes a few minutes here and there every day to stay in touch with the world around you. Invest the time it takes… stay open to what is going on and don’t be in so much of a rush you can’t get feedback from others or read the news!

4. Embrace Technology
There is no excuse for not taking full advantage of all the technology that is available to us. Yes, you may need to take time to learn it. But everything we do in life, we had to learn at some point (even walking, dressing, and eating!). Think about all you have to gain from embracing technology: greater profitability, a larger marketplace, and less time spent on menial tasks. That alone should be motivation enough to carry you through your dislike of any device. Take the Internet, for instance. There are 1.5 billion people using it every day. Even if you are a local retailer, you might be able to find a way to tap into that. And even though your local economy may be in the toilet, somewhere else it probably isn’t. You might just end up transforming your business by fully using the Internet’s potential. For example, let’s say you are in the Pacific Northwestern and you are able to catch fresh salmon; why just have a local restaurant and/or fish market? Smoke it, freeze it, and sell it over the Internet. You can find someone to handle the fulfillment-outsourcing can be a beautiful thing-and you adjust your prices accordingly. If the U.S. is still hurting economically, perhaps Canada is a good market for you or Brazil. Or even China. You never know what’s going to work, but with the Internet, there’s no reason you can’t reach out to any part of the globe. Costs more to ship? Have to worry about customs? Well, charge more for international shipping and let your fulfillment company tell you how they will handle customs for you. Look, if you have an existing business, you have already overcome all sorts of barriers to entry-large and small-just to open your doors in the first place. If you did that, there is no doubt that you can also do the same with the Internet. There will be different barriers, yes-but they can still be overcome! Thousands of others have done it. And so can you.

5. Strategic Partnering
Consumers like dealing with the fewest number of people possible for a project. Think about building a swimming pool. There’s the pool contractor. Then the screening or fencing contractors. And then there are usually child fences needed in addition to that-and a pool service, too, for those who are too busy to do it on their own. If your company fits somewhere in that span of services, partner with other companies who do the other work… and offer a package of services to the customer at a discount.

Let’s say you are a general contractor. Partner up with an air conditioning and heating company, a pest control service, a lawn service, a home inspector, and a plumber. Co-market their services with your own, refer customers to your partners (as they will to you), and let the referral fees start rolling in. You can take it one step further by presenting yourself as a unified front-an “end to end” solution for homeowners-with one toll free number. Market yourselves that way (splitting the cost of course). Just make sure the parameters of revenue sharing are well defined and agreed to in advance in writing to avoid problems down the road. A good example of strategic partnerships is found on any PC you buy. Whether you buy a Dell, an HP, or a Compaq, Microsoft’s operating system software comes preloaded-it’s part of the package. They also usually also have an icon for Microsoft’s Office suite (Word, Excel, Power Point programs)-and all you have to do is purchase it in order to use it. How Microsoft and computer manufacturers work this out financially, I’m not exactly sure… but it obviously works for both of them. It’s one of the reasons Microsoft is so successful and also why people once screamed that they had a monopoly. Yes, it takes more work to put together a strategic partnership. But when it works, you’ll get twice, three times, even four times the amount back that you put into it. Strategic partnerships put the power of leveraging to work for you, as other entities become invested in your success as well.

6. Adding Services and/or Product Lines
This is a variation on the strategic partnership method. In this case though, instead of partnering with another company, you actually add those services and products to your existing ones. You can start with natural extensions of your current product and service line. For example, grocery stores typically have a low profit margin on the food they sell. So what did they do? They added higher-margin products like pots, pans, cooking utensils, coffee mugs, child plates… all of which are related to cooking and food. But they didn’t stop there. Now you can pick up flower arrangements, cards, gift cards, and more. It’s just a matter of time before they find even more ways to get an increasing share of consumer spending.

Or let’s say you have a lawn service. How about partnering with a pest control company? If you’re in a cold climate, add in firewood delivery. If you’re in a warm climate, you can add on that pool service! You already have a built-in base of customers, so you can afford to discount your add on services. Think a recession is a bad time to expand? Think again. “With soaring oil and food prices, falling home values, and the credit crunch beginning to take their toll on the U.S. economy, it’s a terrible time to try to expand businesses or innovate, right? Not necessarily. By some accounts, the worst of economic times-the Great Depression-was actually a rich period of management invention… a number of enterprises outperformed competitors and actually grew during that tumultuous era by excelling in understanding and satisfying customers’ changing needs. The Standard Oil companies built a lasting advantage by aggressively expanding their networks of service stations. DuPont increased its dominance by introducing nylon and other new products for consumer markets. Sears prospered-while Montgomery Ward languished-by coming out with innovations like low-cost refrigerators and mail-order automobile insurance and by doubling the number of its stores. And at a time when Wall Street was despised, Merrill Lynch recognized there was an opportunity for honest brokers.” – “Recession: The Mother of Invention?” Steve Prokesch, Harvard Business Review, June 17, 2008 Giving people what they want is the best way to create new opportunities for your business, Great Depression, Great Recession, or boom times alike!

7. Hit “Restart” Listen, sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. If you have exhausted all avenues in your existing business, it may be time to consider the possibility of ceasing operations and restarting another, more profitable venture. I know firsthand what this is like. After 2 years of decent profitability, my hardware store was in the red to the tune of $100K in its third year. Believe, me I tried everything I could-steps 1 through 6 and more-but it just wasn’t enough.

The town I was in had only 600 people. I made my money off the few months per year that tourists swelled our ranks to 3 times their normal level. But when the recession hit-and did not retreat-the number of months of good business fell from 8 to 4. I’m sure you can appreciate how hard it is to run a business on only 4 months of profitability. With only 2 good years prior to the recession hitting us, I hadn’t built up a significant enough cash reserve to float me for yet another year after taking that kind of loss. So I would have had to borrow money to continue. And think about it-I was entirely dependent on the local economy! What happened in that 600-person town decided my fate. I had expanded my product line-I had a tool rental business, I had pumped up our paint department-but when you have a business that is so tied to one sector (construction/home improvement) in such a limited market, you are vulnerable. And I did the numbers. I could see that I couldn’t survive for another year without returning to pre-recession profitability immediately. And that wasn’t happening. I could see that! But I didn’t give up on business altogether. I KNEW there had to be a better way. I did my due diligence. I did my research. And I found that an Internet business-with its low start-up costs, access to a global marketplace, and limited operating expense-was the way to go for me. And I was right! Our local economy hasn’t come close to turning around. But now, it doesn’t matter. I own the business of my dreams, and I can do business with anyone, anywhere. I get to spend quality time with my family. And I am making good money, without all of the headaches of employees, taxes, huge fixed expenses, and swings of fortune in the local economy. All of this is to say… I’m not someone from the outside, flippantly telling you to let go of your business. I know what it’s like, and I know how difficult it can be. I had thought I found the business that would sustain my family and me forever… but I was wrong. It was hard-very hard-to let it go. But you know what? It got better, and it got better fast. Some part of me actually felt relief. And I was free to go on to a more profitable situation, a better one for my family and me. Of course, you want to take the time to make the right decision for yourself. You don’t want to rush into anything. Take whatever time is necessary to figure it out. Just be open to the possibility that maybe the time for your current business has come to a end. Or maybe it’s just not right for you anymore. Run the numbers, talk to your spouse, and make the best decision for you. I’m here to tell you that if you have built a successful business at one time, you can do it again. Many times things happen that are just beyond our control. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, we lose something that was a part of our life for a long time. But then we end up better off when the next thing comes along. Above all else, remember that your greatest asset sits between your ears. Creativity and innovation start there-and have built fortunes for millions since the world began. The economy will always go up and down. By using your mind and your creativity, though, you can always find a way to prosper. Failure is only temporary, unless you choose it to be otherwise!

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