Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

TPN Weekly #63

From the Things You Always Wanted to Tell Your Customers But Couldn’t Department:

As most of you know, The Force Field Podcast is a member of The Tech Podcast Network, a  podcast network of family-friendly shows that cover just about every aspect of technology from the latest news, business and tutorials to digital photography, amateur radio and gaming.

The Tech Podcast Network has an official podcast of its own called TPN Weekly . This weekly podcast is hosted by various podcasters on the network who take turns producing and guest hosting the show.

In February I was guest host of TPN Weekly podcast Episode #42 .

This week I am the guest host of TPN Weekly podcast Episode #63 . Since the show is primarily aimed at the general public, it was a perfect venue to reach the other side of the service provider-user relationship, that of the user and potential customer. With that in mind, it is a unique opportunity to tell the customer everything we’ve wanted to tell them about the relationship from our perspective. The end result is to educate the customer as to what we go through to servicing them so they will better understand the overall process and hopefully increase their trust and improve their perception of their service provider – without violating any contracts.

Here are the show notes for TPN Weekly #63 with Rick Savoia – The Force Field: Choosing a computer tech :

Greetings, everyone! I’m Rick Savoia, host of The Force Field, a podcast about the business of tech.

Sponsor: Solve technical issues faster with GoToAssist Express. Try it FREE for 30 days.

In this episode I will give you a little sample of what The Force Field podcast is all about and the type of topics we discuss on the show. We will also discuss some insider tips you can use when shopping for a reliable computer tech.

Topics of discussion:

I will tell you about recent episodes of The Force Field podcast in which we cover topics related to planning and starting a tech business.

We will discuss the top ten list of things to consider when shopping for a computer repair technician.

If you want to know more about starting and managing a computer or IT service business, give The Force Field podcast a listen. Questions, comments or feedback? Visit us at http://www.theforcefield.net, visit our forums or email comments(at)theforcefield.net.

 

 

Yext looking for techs

I recently received a call from Dan Martin, Sales Associate at YEXT Computer Repair. According to Dan, Yext was looking for a tech in my area to be the go-to guy for service calls for their customers. Since I no longer run service calls onsite I declined the offer. However, I did tell him about The Force Field and after some discussion I offered to pass along the opportunity to any other tech in the Charlotte, NC area who may be interested.

For those of you who have never heard of Yext, they seem to be like Service Magic. According to their web site,  Yext focuses on matching new customers with techs by offering a pay-for-performance type of lead generation. Techs sign up with Yext, receive a free listing for their business or services and customers search for them on the web site by zip code. Once the tech is contacted and runs the service call he or she pays Yext for the lead.

On the surface it looks like just another Service Magic. But it is more. Much more. Yext isn’t really a service platform. It is more like an advertising service, in fact it describes itself as a company that provides “superior local advertising services, local monetization services, and soon, phone service.”, according to its web site.

There is Yext ads, which offers a local advertising service, Yext Rep, a reputation management service that according to their web site, operatesin real time and the Yext Network, which serves up targeted ads to your local directory.

Dan wanted to know if I would pass the information along and I told him I would. Below is the e-mail he sent with the details.

Rick,

I am in charge of computer repair technicians along the eastern sea-board.  Here’s some useful information that will help your technicians get a strong overview of our network.

Here’s a link to our site: http://www.yext.com/computerrepair/

Here’s also a link to our debut at TechCrunch50: http://techcrunch.com/2009/09/14/tc50-yext-offers-local-businesses-a-smart-inbox-for-phone-calls/

I can be reached at 212.651.8978.

—————–

Dan Martin

Sales Associate, YEXT

Now, I am not personally endorsing them since I haven’t used the service myself, but  If anyone in my area, or any area is interested, feel free to check it out for yourself and let me know.

Fourth episode of The Force Field restored and re-released

Last year the CDN which hosted the first six original episodes of The Force Field went offline permanently, taking the episodes with it. As we just released The Force Field Premium Edition Volume 1 in The Force Field Podcast Store on another host, which consisted of the first six episodes remastered with extended content and no advertising, there was no immediate concern.

The original, free versions of the first six episodes of The Force Field have been remastered, restored and there are plans to re-release them online during the next few months. Three months ago I re-released The Force Field Episode 1 – Pilot and uploaded it to another CDN which hosts our current episodes. 

In March I re-released The Force Field Episode 2 – The VoIP Connection and made it available as well.

Last month I re-released The Force Field Episode 3 – The Last Frontier and it is also available on The Force Field web portal.

Today I re-released The Force Field Episode 4 – Man in the Middle and it is now available in its original listing on The Force Field Podcast Episodes page. 

This episode features interviews with Steve Faulkner and Dave Hendrickson in which we learned how the over abundance of middlemen in the business have affected profitability for the field service techs who actually do the job.

If you are among those involved in recent discussions in the OnForce forums about the low rates and profitability running calls for nationals through online service platforms, you may find this episode of particular interest. Although the episode was originally recorded and released in 2006, the topic is even more relevant today.

For those who remember the earlier days of OnForce, these episodes will be a trip down memory lane. For those who just started listening and are curious, it will be a trip back in time and a glimpse into the start of an experiment in podcasting that became a project dedicated to The Business of Tech. It is interesting to compare the early episodes and hear how the show has changed to become what it is today. If nothing else, it should at least be entertaining.

You can hear the episode at http://www.theforcefield.net/wordpress/?p=12 or at Episode 4 – Man in the Middle.

This is the fourth in a series of re-releases during the next few months. Episode 5 is planned for re-release next month. An additional episode will be re-released each month until June 2010. I will post an announcement as each episode is released.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Grow your business with offers from these trade associations

Whether you are in the tech business full time or as a side line it is important to create as many connections and networking opportunities as possible to help your enterprise grow and prosper. One resource that can’t be overlooked is the alignment of your business with one or more trade associations related to your work.

I was organizing my e-mail this morning and came across a few recent announcements from several trade associations, all listed in The Force Field IT Business Resource Directory. I know some providers inside The Force Field know these associations but many may not be aware of them, so I wanted to take a few moments to get the word out to those who are interested in new opportunities to add value to their entrepreneurial endeavors.

I wanted to pass these announcements along to everyone but do not have time to write them up individually so I will highlight them in digest form. The associations are listed in alphabetical order.

ACRBO – Association of Computer Repair Business Owners

  • New Preferred Vendor ProactiveWatch. You can provide that type of monitoring for any size business at an affordable cost. Some of the features are monitoring, management, access and remediation, reports, and many more. Normal pricing starts at $10/month with a $50 a month minimum, however minimum is waived for ACRBO members. If you do hit that $50 a month they will also provide 2 free licenses for your own use.
  • Discount on CommitCRM packages. The CommitCRM package is a complete CRM, service management and billing solution. When corresponding with CommitCRM tell them that you belong to the Association.
  • Virtual Administrator is offering discount per license for Hosted Kaseya.

Membership to ACRBO is FREE. Contact: Dan Hand. E-mail: dan(at)acrbo.com Web site: http://www.acrbo.com

Dan was interviewed on his book in The Force Field Episode 8 – The Computer Repair Business by Dan Hand.

ASCII Group

  •  The 2010 ASCII Reseller Success Summit. One day event for solution providers features workshops on selling and providing Managed Services. Event dates NY/NJ, May 6, 2010,  Chicago, June 3, 2010, Orlando, September 16, 2010
    Boston, October 14, 2010. FREE Special VIP Pass ($975 value) for subscribers to ChannelPro. Subscription to ChannelPro is free to qualified professionals.

Membership to ASCII Group from $125 month. Web site: http://www.ascii.com

CompTIA

  • CompTIA Breakaway 2010. Annual event August 9-12 2010 in San Antonio Texas. Admission is FREE to CompTIA members, Early Bird rate of $199 for non-members until April 30, 2010.

Membership to CompTIAis annual and dues are based on organization type and membership level. Web site: http://www.comptia.org

NASBA – The Association of Channel Resellers

  • Newegg Business. NASBA announced a B2B volume discount program from Newegg.
  • Kaspersky Lab teams with NASBA. Discounts on volume license packs purchased through D&H Distributing.
  • D&H and NASBA discount program. Resellers receive discounts on purchases through D&H distributing.
  • Innovative Visions partnership. NASBA has partnered with a VoIP consultancy for voice and data services allowing members to earn extra revenue reselling VoIP.

Membership to NASBA is FREE.  Contact: Frank Raimondi. E-mail: frank(at)nasba.com. Web site:  http://www.nasba.com.

Learn more about NASBA in The Force Field Episode 35 – Partner With Your Vendors.

 

National IT Contractors: is yours listed and still in business?

One of the most accessed and utilized areas of the IT Business Resource Directory on The Force Field portal is the National Contractor Directory. This directory is one of the most complete and comprehensive listings of national service companies for contract IT work available on the web today. Unlike previous directories, one of the advantages of utilizing ours is the ability of the tech to comment on and rate the company. The comment and ratings feature is powered by our peers and is intended to help techs make sound decisions when dealing with these companies and help them decide whether or not to perform work for them at all.

I am currently updating the National Contractor Directory and searching for companies whose status is either unknown or may no longer be in business. At last count there are over 100 companies on the list and more will soon be added. While there are no plans to remove any companies at this time, there are obviously some who are no longer active or doing business, at least as they are listed. These companies will be flagged as such and will remain on the list for the time being as a point of reference for those techs researching them.

Locating and researching each company is a long and comprehensive job and due to other obligations it is one which I am not able to devote all my time to perform. I need your help.

I am compiling a list of companies that need to be updated as well as new ones  that need to be checked out. All I am asking is if anyone who recognizes any companies on the list and/or has performed work for any of these companies and knows whether they are currently active and are recruiting techs or no longer doing business to either e-mail me at comments@theforcefield.net or post your comments in this forum thread or this blog below.

This will allow me to update the listing and keep it current for everyone. Also, if you know of any national contractors, platforms or service companies not on the list please let me know.

Here is a current list of nationals who are either new, MIA, or whose status is unknown:

  • ACSYSTECH, Inc.
  • ATC Tech Solutions
  • CanDoIT
  • Cindy’s Techs
  • Cilicon IT Solutions
  • Computer Source North America
  • Equant
  • FS 24-7 Ltd
  • Integrated Automation International
  • iTechnicians.net
  • iTenol
  • New Edge Technology
  • Pro-Tec Services, LLC
  • On-Site Computer Services, LLC
  • Ryno Network Services, Inc.
  • WifiLand

 This list will be continuously updated during the next couple of days as we go through the directory. If anyone knows these companies or does any work for them, please let us know!

Thanks in advance!

Third episode of The Force Field restored and re-released

Last year the CDN which hosted the first six original episodes of The Force Field went offline permanently, taking the episodes with it. As we just released The Force Field Premium Edition Volume 1 in The Force Field Podcast Store on another host, which consisted of the first six episodes remastered with extended content and no advertising, there was no immediate concern.

The original, free versions of the first six episodes of The Force Field have been remastered, restored and there are plans to re-release them online during the next few months. Two months ago I re-released The Force Field Episode 1 – Pilot and uploaded it to another CDN which hosts our current episodes. 

Last month I re-released The Force Field Episode 2 – The VoIP Connection and made it available as well.

 Today I re-released The Force Field Episode 3 – The Last Frontier and it is now available in its original listing on The Force Field Podcast Episodes page.

This episode features an interview with Dave Hendrickson in which we talked about his experiences as an IT tech and OnForce Provider living and working in the great state of Alaska.

For those who remember the earlier days of OnForce, these episodes will be a trip down memory lane. For those who just started listening and are curious, it will be a trip back in time and a glimpse into the start of an experiment in podcasting that became a project dedicated to The Business of Tech. It is interesting to compare the early episodes and hear how the show has changed to become what it is today. If nothing else, it should at least be entertaining.

You can hear the episode at http://www.theforcefield.net/wordpress/?p=11 or at Episode 3 – The Last Frontier.

This is the third in a series of re-releases during the next few months. Episode 4 is planned for re-release next month. An additional episode will be re-released each month until June 2010. I will post an announcement as each episode is released.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Your Company Name Here

I was searching the Internet Archives for public domain music this evening and ran across an amazing piece of history that still applies to marketing today. I wanted to share it for a nostalgic look at the way companies were marketed and promoted yesterday, for a laugh and perhaps to make us all think.

How well do you promote your business? How will the way you market your product or service today be perceived by the world in the future?

Here’s a great way to market your business. Simply enter “Your Product Here”.

 

Are the Yellow Pages relevant to your marketing strategy?

Awhile back I was talking with a service provider about marketing strategies and the topic of yellow pages advertising came up. We basically agreed that, in this day and age of Internet directories and mobile communications devices, print advertising such as the Yellow Pages were somewhat passe’.

This is no great revelation to many business owners who are fairly caught up with technology in the 21st century. If you Google, Yahoo or Bing the topic you will find a plethora of articles and blogs to support this.

The reasons for this conclusion are obvious, of course, but while there is a general consensus among those who commented online that the Yellow Pages seemed to be losing their effectiveness as a marketing tool, it rather surprised me to actually find a blog to claim otherwise – and with great conviction.

The article that caught my attention was  called “Yellow Pages Are Dead?? Far From It . It was on a wordpress blog http://askmeaboutyp.wordpress.com . The author KenC was obviously defending and promoting his product and services. No surprise there. What made it an interesting read was that it was posted in 2008, was still receiving comments and he was responding to comments a year and half later with the same conviction.

This particular post addressed the argument from whom KenC called “paper athiests” that printed phone directories (the Yellow Pages in particular) were not the environmental handicaps and landfill hogs many in the “green” world made them out to be.  According to his post, Yellow Pages were still relevant and profitable forms of advertising and not a waste of good paper dumped at millions of front doors to be simply tossed aside or into recycling bins.    

It was somewhat amusing because most of the readers disagreed with his position, and one or two even questioned the data used to support his claims. Comments posted in other blog entries throughout the site echoed the sentiment, many citing personal experiences to support the argument that today’s technology has made the Yellow Pages somewhat obsolete and in comparison was an expensive form of advertising with little ROI.

The most interesting read for me, however, were his responses to the comments. While I expected him to be somewhat defensive of his position, he was aggressively so, calling his detractors “uninformed” and “obtuse”.

He seemed to take it personally, as if anyone’s dislike of a printed phone book was an attack on him. This obsession piqued my curiosity, so I decided to investigate further.

Apparently the blogger known as KenC is Ken Clark, owner of KenC Consulting LLC. According to his Bio his specialties include strategic business planning and support in sales and marketing. Now, I don’t claim to be a salesperson or marketing guru here, but I was always taught that if you want to sell or market something to someone, don’t talk down to them, don’t be condescending and never treat them like they are stupid.

I left the pages of that blog with the feeling that he did all three to me.

Now, I don’t have anything in particular against using the Yellow Pages. I do think that the Yellow Pages and printed phone directories in general have lost much of their impact and relevance in the marketplace and for many of the same reasons given by those who commented in KenC’s blog. Here are the reasons why:

The decline of traditional landlines

Traditionally, listings in the White or Yellow Pages are those of individuals and businesses who have landlines with the phone company who publishes the books. With a decrease in the number of landlines used today and an increase other forms of telecommunication such as VoIP, the printed phone directory is not the ultimate source for phone listings it used to be.

The rise of mobile telecommunications

Most consumers have cell phones and other mobile devices to communicate with. Phone kiosks with directories are disappearing from the public landscape. When was the last time you saw a phone book at a public telephone booth? When was the last time you saw a phone booth?

The proliferation of mobile apps

Mobile devices do not typically need an eight to fifteen pound book of yellow pages to lug around with them. If you need to find a dry cleaner or dog groomer in town is it easier to dial 411, Google it up or search for one on your mobile device, or is it more expedient to let your fingers do the walking through a 2000 page phone book on a shelf? Why bother with the book? There’s an app for that.

The Internet and New Media marketing venues

the White and Yellow Pages are online. I don’t need to pull the phone book that’s propping up my computer desk  to shop for a new one. I can save my back and surf for it instead.

CODB

The Cost of Doing Business includes marketing and advertising. Most businesses today, especially in a tight economy, are looking for ways to decrease spending and increase ROI. There are a myriad of ways to market your business to specific target demographics  without spending big bucks on print advertising to general audiences. While the printed Yellow Pages can still reach an audience, it isn’t a targeted one but compared to some other forms of targeted advertising it is very expensive.

Now, those are reasons I disagree with KenC’s views on Yellow Pages advertising. I tend to concur with others who disagreed with KenC and commented in his blog. Does that make me uninformed or obtuse? I don’t think so. Not at all. I never said advertising in the print Yellow Pages was totally ineffective. It is merely a form of advertising that may not be for me. However, there may be others whose businesses may do very well with Yellow Pages advertising. It may be the best fit for their business. If so, by all means go for it. If it isn’t, don’t use it. Do what works best for you, but don’t let anyone call you obtuse if you don’t think the Yellow Pages works for you.

Do you use the print Yellow Pages to advertise your business? If so, does it work well for you? Do you think the printed Yellow Pages is still relevant or has it, like other forms of print media, become obsolete and offers little ROI? Whether you agree or disagree, no worries. I won’t call you obtuse.

Novell wins, SCO loses and the Linux world is safe again

After years of ugly lawsuits and court battles over copyrights between Novell and SCO, a Utah court ruled in favor of Novell and said SCO has no ownership in Unix code the company claimed was used in Linux. In a brief post on their web site Tuesday Novell said “this decision is good news for Novell, for Linux, and for the open source community.”

SCO, as you may recall was the company that claimed ownership of the Unix code and said some of that code was in Linux. SCO filed lawsuits against IBM, Novell and Red hat to prove its point – a point that could have potentially turned all three companies – and the entire Linux community – upside down had any of it been true. However, SCO could not come up with any viable examples of such transgression during the discovery phase. Yesterday a jury determined SCO didn’t own the code to begin with, so any Unix intellectual property used in Linux, if there was any, wasn’t theirs to claim or defend at all.

The Linux community is both relieved and elated. SCO wasn’t merely attacking a few companies, it was attempting  to change the entire open source landscape and there was uncertainty over how the case would affect the entire open source model.  After the lawsuits were initially filed, SCO became the most hated and vilified company in the tech world. For years SCO was seen asThe Big Bad Wolf to their defendants’ Three Little Pigs, but for all the huffing and puffing the company couldn’t blow down them down.

In fact, early on in the game SCO ran out of breath and had to be propped up by Microsoft, themselves searching for a way to combat the spread of Linux.

However, tonight, The Three Little Pigs and the entire Linux community can sleep well knowing that, finally, the Big Bad Wolf has been put in his place. SCO has no claim to Unix or Linux.The Linux world is safe again.

 

Second episode of The Force Field restored and re-released

Last year the CDN which hosted the first six original episodes of The Force Field went offline permanently, taking the episodes with it. As we just released The Force Field Premium Edition Volume 1 in The Force Field Podcast Store on another host, which consisted of the first six episodes remastered with extended content and no advertising, there was no immediate concern.

The original, free versions of the first six episodes of The Force Field have been remastered, restored and there are plans to re-release them online during the next few months. Last month I re-released The Force Field Episode 1 – Pilot and uploaded it to another CDN which hosts our current episodes. 

Tonight I re-released The Force Field Episode 2 – The VoIP Connection and it is now available in its original listing on The Force Field Podcast Episodes page.

This is episode features an interview with an OnForce Provider, Jamie Begin from Bright Idea VoIP, who entered the VoIP market, found out how it worked for him and what opportunities were available for other Providers who were thinking about reselling VoIP solutions to their customers.

For those who remember the earlier days of OnForce, these episodes will be a trip down memory lane. For those who just started listening and are curious, it will be a trip back in time and a glimpse into the start of an experiment in podcasting that became a project dedicated to The Business of Tech. It is interesting to compare the early episodes and hear how the show has changed to become what it is today. If nothing else, it should at least be entertaining.

You can hear the episode at http://www.theforcefield.net/wordpress/?p=10 or at Episode 2 – The VoIP Connection .

This is the second in a series of re-releases during the next few months. Episode 3 is planned for re-release next month. An additional episode will be re-released each month until June 2010. I will post an announcement as each episode is released.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

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