2018 saw a lot of milestone events at Data Age, kicking off with our thirtieth anniversary. Being in business for thirty years is no easy feat, as we've seen where so many other business have come and gone, and others that continue to fail. Being able to service our ever-growing customer base while staying ahead of the pack as the industry leader is an accomplishment that we are very proud of. During 2018, our eCommerce and mobile services provided great reach and success for our clients. Our integrated eCommerce platform e4o generated over 10 million dollars in online sales for our clients, and our success fee-free model kept our clients profit margins high, as they should be. This robust product continues to gain rapid success, and new users are adopting it on a weekly basis. Our text messaging platform has lead the way in this industry for a number of years, but recent expansion has helped us define mobility in a much more efficient and safe way. With the addition of TxTPay, text messaging is a product line that's exploding with new ideas and increased revenue opportunities for our customers.
We are consistently coming across shops changing their software vendor for a number of reasons, so we feel it's important to provide resources to those who are looking to make a switch. When you're entering into a SaaS agreement for the first time, you may have some questions or concerns. That's normal. According to CIO Review, "The best means of protecting yourself is to carefully read and understand the terms of the contracts with your data vendors. Often these provisions can be negotiated—for example, you can require that your data to be anonymized when it's used by the vendor."
In my previous life as a small business owner, this was always the time of year when I was heads down looking to crank out sales. Having a multiple store chain and selling straight retail, the holidays was where I made my mark. At the time, I didn't realize that the entire year leading up to the holiday season we were unconsciously making sure that we went the extra yard for our customers. This is always the correct approach when supplying and supporting a large customer base.
No product or service – or end user – is perfect. This is especially true when it comes to hardware and software. Most entrepreneurial-dominated industries are successful because the people who make up the industry focus on what they do best. In the collateral lending industry, PawnMaster users are heads down with their customers, loaning, buying, and selling. They don’t have the time to focus or be concerned if an issue arises around the technology they depend on to help operate their business. Should they have an issue, they know that they can make a call and get an answer, and never have to worry about getting their vendor on the line to help them.
There are several schools of thought when going to market with software and technology. Many companies pick the market they want to go after. The “upstream” market consists of the larger enterprises and public space. This market, albeit very lucrative, places great strain and demand on a technology company in a host of ways. Specifically, round the clock support, custom development, hyper-specific service level agreements, and of course, special reduced rates. If a technology firm is primarily seeking this kind of business and does not want to scale, the model works-but it is very tedious to sustain. This model can’t sustain the smaller downstream clients because of the lack of resources to succeed at both. Companies who are constantly shifting their focus and toggling from one client model to another are doomed to implode, and the client base on both ends suffer. Not as damaging for the larger customers who may have the resources to go out and build custom software for themselves, but for smaller customers these events can be catastrophic.
Choosing the correct vendors for your shop can seem like a daunting task, but you shouldn't feel like you're trapped when making your decision. We know that it's a lot to take in, that's why we at PawnMaster put together resources for people in the market to make a switch. When you're entering into a SaaS agreement for the first time, you may have some questions or concerns. That's normal. According to CIO Review, "The best means of protecting yourself is to carefully read and understand the terms of the contracts with your data vendors. Often these provisions can be negotiated--for example, you can require that your data to be anonymized when it's used by the vendor."
As a former business owner in the retail space, my partner and I knew what it meant to face challenges. These challenges could range from the day-to-day "running a business" issues, to people problems, to dealing with local ordinance, the up and downs of revenue, the list goes on. As we all know, small business owners wear almost every hat. Personally, what made jumping through all these hoops worth it was bringing in new customers while still collecting revenue from my returning clientele. Word of mouth was it as far as marketing went; you treated your customers well and people flocked to you. In 2018, it may seem harder than ever to find new clients, and we all know that competition is coming from every direction. There is a silver lining here, and that is there are a lot of online platforms that you can use to ensure that your brand is securing the visibility is needs to thrive.
Every day we hear stories about vendors not helping their clients, not calling them back, and a host of other very frustrating and disappointing things, all of which are negatively impacting peoples' businesses. The Data Age/PawnMaster brand, company, and suite of products have been known for being world-class for the past thirty years. We always sit back and analyze how to improve. I recall an event held at the Ritz Carlton a few years back. I was walking to my meeting and in the hallway I saw three Ritz Carlton employees on their knees highly focused on removing a small piece of gum from the carpet. At first I said for the amount of money a room cost I would expect this but the establishment provided great value in so many areas. They don’t need to roll out three people to get a tiny piece of gum that cannot be seen removed. This is their strategy to customer service excellence and overall user experience. Let me be clear, customer support is a strategy that many miss the mark on in a big way.