Its “Five-Point Pledge: Commitment to Excellence” a written promise to its customers and a way of life for its employees is the foundation of the company.
“They have to have their own mission, and every industry is different, but this surely works in our industry,” says company president Paul Hanna. “There has to be a companywide involvement to support that, even from the hiring process of our people. This document is often imitated but never duplicated.”
Blue Technologies, a document imaging solutions provider, was founded in 1995, and through a persistent focus on customer service, has grown to $30 million and 170 employees.
Smart Business spoke with Hanna about how he builds on his experiences to manage his company.
On corporate vision
We took the good of our experience in the industry as employees and the knowledge that we learned as owners and built a pretty successful company. We had experience in the strategy of selling office equipment and backed it up with service.
It’s called our Commitment to Excellence, and it’s really the foundation of our company. It’s a way of doing business and a set of performance guarantees that differentiates us from our competitors. Our five-point performance guarantee ensures total customer satisfaction.
We didn’t want to be like everybody else, we wanted to be better. It’s our pledge, and to this day, this five-point guarantee is what our sales staff is marketing to potential customers.
On the Commitment to Excellence
It’s not a wish or a hope, it’s a legal document in writing that tells the way we’re going to do business: product performance commitment, service commitment, supply commitment, easy acquisition commitment and complete satisfaction commitment. It covers every issue that a potential customer would have. They don’t have to ask and probe for it; we tell them how we’re going to do business. That adds a comfort level, and today, we have over 15,000 customers that experience that Commitment to Excellence. Every piece of equipment that we sell or lease comes with a Commitment to Excellence.
It’s one of our best hiring tools because everybody wants to do a good job. By putting this in writing, it gives our sales force a confidence level that the product that they sell is going to perform above the customer’s expectations. When an employee sees that type of commitment, it gives them a confidence level in the company that they’re working for. We’re not just trying to hire employees; we’re trying to hire people with a career vision.
On complete satisfaction
‘A satisfied customer is not loyal, only a completely satisfied customer is loyal.’ That quote came to me from a friend of mine in my early days, and it was in the Wall Street Journal. That line really impacted me because it’s very true. People like to do business with people they’re comfortable with, who they trust, who they know and are satisfied with. ‘Completely satisfied’ covers all those areas.
If they think you’re (simply) OK, you’re going to have a hard time retaining them. Our business is built on building those customers and keeping them. We’re not interested in losing them.
With my 20-years-plus in this industry, I wanted to make sure that I had something that had an advantage over everyone else, that we did it better than everyone else. To this day, I still believe in that.
We’re in an industry where the technology changes annually. Today, we’re far more technical than we were 10 years ago because of the digital revolution. You have to grow with the technology so that you can educate the marketplace on what’s available.
The fortunate thing was that we have the assets to financially be able to do that. As a start-up company, we had to be good, but today, we have the availability to be even better because of our training. We are one of the very few locations in the United States that’s an authorized training center for our manufacturers. Our technicians get trained from a certified trainer that works for Blue Technologies as opposed to having to go and ship our staff to a manufacturer’s location for training.
We have a dedicated trainer to train our sales staff, and that occurs onsite. It gives us a cutting-edge advantage, as opposed to making a decision whether to shut down a portion of our company and send X amount of employees out of town for training. (We have) the ability to do it without interrupting our normal flow of business.
On strategic acquisitions
If you buy garbage, you have to clean the garbage up. A poorly run company that you acquire takes a lot more cleanup than if you acquire another good, quality company. You get what you pay for.
Sometimes it’s better to buy another quality company, if you have the wherewithal to do that, because in the long run, it’ll save you a lot of headaches. When you try to put that other company into your system, bring that account base up to par and educate them on what they can now expect from you, hopefully you can keep them around long enough to experience that their new way of life should be a lot better.
When you buy a company that is not experienced, does not have any loyalty to you and didn’t do the right things, it’s very difficult to get past that period.
You have to pick the right people to do the job. Someone who gets hired at Blue Technologies, depending on the position, they may go through three, four or five different interviews. We’re not selling them on why to come to work here; we’re educating them on why they should come to work here.
Traditionally, we have not been successful hiring people from within our industry because they were poorly trained and picked up bad habits. I’d much rather give a new employee good habits than try to correct bad habits.
We have been far more successful hiring good, high-quality people that excelled somewhere in their life outside of this industry. We were able to train them from the ground level up to be able to fulfill the obligations necessary with our job descriptions.
HOW TO REACH: Blue Technologies, (216) 271-4800 or www.btohio.com