How three small business owners made the most out of their tech.
By Christian Nascimento
From boutiques and consultants to neighborhood coffee shops and family-owned restaurants, business owners often face similar challenges when it comes to managing operations and growth. They want to scale their businesses, keep customers happy and better maximize their time and resources. When utilized properly, technology can be a great ally, but without the right, reliable tools, it can leave some companies struggling to keep up. Below are three tips that will help take small business technology to the next level.
Have the bandwidth to do what you need
Bandwidth can mean different things to different people. Yes, as a business owner it’s important to have personal bandwidth and the time and stress management skills to handle the grueling demands of running a company. But, almost equally important, is having a reliable internet service that can handle the bandwidth demands that come from an entire business running on the system while also maintaining speeds that will keep both employees and guests happy.
Businesses like Pickleball Central, a family-run company dedicated to providing quality pickleball products and experiences, rely heavily on their high-speed internet as 98 percent of their business is made from online sales between six different websites. On top of this, they’ve also installed video cameras in order to live stream pickleball games at their on-premise courts to their social media page. By having the necessary bandwidth to do both, they’re allowing their employees to continue to manage their ecommerce sites, while also ensuring their customers continue to get the type of service and experience Pickleball Central prides themselves on.
Anna Copley, Partner of Pickleball Central, attributes much of the company’s ability to provide the exceptional customer service that is part of their identity to reliable internet. Like Pickleball Central, having the bandwidth to support both business operations as well as customers’ needs and wants allow businesses to create an environment that keeps people coming back and helps small businesses maintain a reputation and personality that sets them apart from their competition.
Remember the 3 R’s of Connectivity – Reliable, Resilient, Restorative
Any small business that deals with their own online marketplace understands the importance of keeping their network running, regardless of how Mother Nature is cooperating. It’s imperative to have a plan in place when power outages are an imminent threat as every minute of connectivity disruption could mean missed orders, and unhappy customers.
When thinking about a network shortage, it’s easy to picture all the front-of-house operations that could be affected. However, companies like Woodchuck USA understand there’s a lot more to keep running then just POS systems. As a business that focuses on taking the old art of woodworking and modernizing it by integrating technology, there are a lot of moving pieces that rely on the network connection. For Woodchuck USA, loss of connectivity would not only prevent new sales from coming in, but it could create a potentially significant delay in shipping and fulfilling existing orders. For Woodchuck USA, making sure they worked with the right technology provider that understood the importance of a backup plan was a priority.
In addition to having the right technology provider, it is also important for small businesses to keep the three R’s of connectivity in mind – reliable, resilient, restorative.
Reliability and resiliency are key for business owners. With hundreds of ideas and to-dos running through small business owners’ minds at all times, wondering about hypothetical situations that could happen without a network back up plan shouldn’t have to be a worry. Choosing a tech solution that is prepared for unfavorable conditions is a must.
Technology that is both resilient and reliable also leaves one less stressor to worry about. This is where that third “R”, restorative, comes into play. Having a reliable connection allows business owners to restore their focus on what matters the most, like ways to better service their clients or manage their time more efficiently.
Use Technology to Revamp Existing Products and Services
Each year, thousands of new businesses are created. Those thinking about starting their own company must remember to think outside the box so their startup doesn’t get lost in the crowd. Having the right technology and properly utilizing it to its full potential can help take even the most mundane ideas and turn them into brilliant services and products.
A perfect example of this is Crew Carwash, who through the use of tech has been able to reinvent the service. By employing a vehicle tracking system equipped with video cameras and sensors (all backed by high-speed internet and cloud solutions), Crew Carwash is able to better optimize water and soap usage, as well as associated costs. They also reduce wait times and allow customers to get a complete wash without ever having to roll down their window by using RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips in vehicles. The customer’s account, payment and preferences are accessed through a scan, and Crew takes care of the rest. Now, this Indiana-based, family owned car wash is experiencing rapid growth with more than 30 locations across the Hoosier state.
No matter the size of the business, efficient and reliable technology is paramount. Finding the right service provider that works just as hard as business owners to provide tech solutions for each company is the most important step to turning a small business into a smart business.
Christian Nascimento is vice president, Product and Premise Services at Comcast Business.