Locust | Lee Pickler | www.scanonline.com
We likely would have lost a lot of revenue and a lot of momentum had we not started really evaluating where we are.
ABOUT SCANONLINE ScanOnline designs and implements workforce solutions for companies relying heavily on connectivity, such as transportation and logistics, hospitality and manufacturing. ScanOnline can be broken out into three focus areas:
Enterprise Wireless architects and installs the wireless network for companies with a large footprint. These hundred thousand or million square foot facilities require a niche set of skills to ensure overlap of coverage without interference.
Enterprise Mobility Solutions is about giving the workforce proper devices that meet their environmental demands. They work with the client to find the best tools for the job, then add or develop the applications to arm their workforce with durable and efficient solutions.
Managed Services offers 24/7 monitoring of the network, equipment and security of the customer’s facility to ensure that downtime is essentially eliminated so workers can continue to perform at their optimum capacity.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? Years ago I sold my software development and integration services company to a barcode data-collection company. For the first time I saw the combination of hardware with services, and we realized people need whole solutions and not just products. So, when we started ScanOnline in 1999, that’s where we focused. It has allowed a small company like us to play in big spaces with large companies because we provide wireless infrastructure and rugged mobile solutions better than anyone else out there.
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED? Things have changed a lot, but then again I look back and we have always been on that same underlying path. We’ve had new products, of course, but the biggest change we’ve seen is in the end user’s familiarity with technology. Workers have smart phones in their pockets, they have the familiarity and dexterity to work easily with these devices now. They’re less intimidated, which means less training, less built-in bulletproofing, and fewer service calls.
HOW HAS THE SBTDC BEEN ABLE TO HELP? Every year we have a company event and our counselor, Mary, came in to facilitate that meeting two years in a row. Since then, we’ve used the same model that she established because we see the difference it makes to our communications and goal setting. Now, everyone is involved in establishing goals and, thanks to Mary, we have processes in place to measure our progress and ensure we meet those goals. We’ve also been able to really improve our communications. Every person in our company touches a customer at some point, so it is critical that each employee understands our values, because we’re going to be judged by their representation of the company.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE SBTDC TO OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES? You don’t know what you don’t know. As a small company, it’s easy to grow organically and never step back and question how you’re doing. Are you doing the best you can? Do you know where your weaknesses are? What are you doing about them? That’s one area where the SBTDC has really helped us. Every other year we survey our employees so we know what is going on and where we can improve. Then our counselors give us the resources to make the necessary changes. What a great service. Honestly, we likely would have lost a lot of revenue and a lot of momentum had we not started really evaluating where we are.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH AN MBA TEAM? The biggest thing they discovered was a need to focus. We took it to heart and have chosen specific business partners and narrowed our areas of expertise. You can’t be all things to all people. We’re in a great niche market, but we need to continue to focus and improve our messaging so customers clearly see that we’re a good match for their needs.
WHAT KIND OF GROWTH HAVE YOU SEEN IN THE LAST YEAR? Last year we had over 27% revenue growth, started the management services department, and hired seven to eight new employees. We expanded our territory into Florida and this year we’re looking into Atlanta and Ohio. The demand for our services is there; our biggest limiting factor is finding employees with the skills we need.
This story was originally published in the SBTDC 2015-2016 Annual Report. View the entire report here.
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The bottom line is: if you have a business and don’t make wise financial decisions, it doesn’t matter how passionate you are, you won’t stay in business long. That’s why the SBTDC is so instrumental to small businesses and start-ups. It’s free so you don’t have to pay for those resources.
The SBTDC takes the fear away. Now I look at my financials and I understand them. Similar to my kayaking analogy, I can now hit my roll and plot my downriver course with confidence. I’m by no means a pro, and I still have a lot of questions. But I’m in there every month, and I know where I’m going to be at the end of the year. We’ve already hit our projections for the end of 2016; our gross revenues are up 20%. And we’ve just added two new employees.