Note from Kara: For the next several weeks, Katie Linendoll will be giving us a behind the scenes look at the most recent episode of We Mean Business. Today Katie is blogging about working with Berry Elegance (Episode 1) and the technology challenges the business faced – and how they were made over.
Talk about animosity. Amy and Todd, the owners of Berry Elegance, were like a bad episode of The Hills. You could cut the tension with a knife. And, with that said, I had no idea how or why they were running a business together. But that was Bill's challenge to sort out. Technology was another issue. After scouting the place, I realized there was a lot of work ahead. It was out with the old and in with the new.
The first thing I noticed was their outdated computers covered in dust. Additionally, there was no backup system in place. So if there was a disaster (such as a fire caused by the dust), they would lose any and all financial data –along with the rest of the business. They had no security for their internet, so a router and firewall to safeguard their systems would be needed. The cash register, I believe, was from the late 1800's and somehow tied to a point of sale system through some ancient form of magic. And as far as communication via telephones and faxes, well, Todd couldn't tell at any time which was in use.
<Sigh.> It was time I upgraded Amy and Todd – Dell style! I installed new laptops, and got rid of the mouse and wheel powered desktops that were the size of storage boxes. These new Dell Latitude Laptops gave Todd and Amy not only power and portability, but allowed them to take work home and spend time with their families. This was an extreme benefit to Amy who is a single mom, devoted to her son. We gave the point-of-sale system an overhaul with a barcode scanner and QuickBooks Financial software to power every transaction, keeping each sale short and sweet. Not only was their previous system outdated, but we made Todd destroy it with a hammer, after he went to work on his light box. We allowed Todd and Amy to re-energize their business with a Dell Multi-function printer that allows them to scan, copy, print, fax, and the ability to have control over marketing materials like pamphlets and flyers. This would save them both time and money in the future. Last but not least, we integrated technology with design by hanging two LCD monitors that could showcase the chocolate dipping process or any advertising of their choice.
What you didn’t see are the countless other recommendations and directions that are made to the store owners. A huge issue for Todd and Amy was their website. I explained to them that they are sitting on an online gold mine with their product. A dynamic website, ad words, etc., are extremely critical to a small retail business of this type.
After all was said and done, Todd and Amy were powered with the right tools for success. They could now make a fast sale, look efficient, save any data, and be more creative through the power of computers made in this century.
With a little encouragement, a few tech tweaks, a fab store, and a new business plan, it's now up to these owners to follow through. Now if somehow technology could make paint dry a little faster, then maybe I could have saved my favorite outfit from wet paint, and prevented Peter from having to repaint the wall (that I accidentally fell into) a half an hour before the reveal…oops!
Until next time, stay tuned.