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Old 05-15-2012, 12:45 PM
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Default Competing with Mrs. Brady and S.com

I don't want to give this company anymore exposure so I will refer to them as S.com (support dot com)

While thinking about remote support and how I want my company to grow, I think often of the business model I want to build. A few years ago, I heard about Mrs. Brady's FLOH (eew name btw) support for seniors concept. I really liked it and thought it would fill a niche. Now today after doing some online surfin', I found this.

Here at S.com we were thrilled to host Florence Henderson at our offices on Friday to listen to her talk about one of her passions The Floh Club: www.F.com. Florence's website offers Telephone Computer Support for Seniors the FloH Club's technology services are delivered remotely by s.com's team of highly skilled North American Personal Technology Experts.

So if the average tech is doing support for seniors, how is this any different? What puts her "special support for seniors" above anyone else? If average tech sees in the queue that a call is coming in from a FLOH client, do they talk with less tech talk and go slower?

I'm glad I found this article to be honest, I used to think that S. com was one of my future competitors, but now I am seeing them build their model in a way I do not envision mine growing.

What are your thoughts on S. com and them doing so much back tech support for companies such as sas/mbam, etc.
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callthatgirl View Post
So if the average tech is doing support for seniors, how is this any different? What puts her "special support for seniors" above anyone else?
nothing at all.

Geek squad had snazzy little cars and uniforms, (presumably) great training when they started out, branding and a big advertizing budget. Did it make their technicians better than anyone else? Nope. but people bought into it because of the way it looked and made them feel.

The company you reference probably doesn't have anyone better trained than anyone on this board. But what they will have is a trusted face ala the Wesson Oil lady, targeted marketing towards a certain demographic and a crap ton of money backing it till it dies.
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Old 05-15-2012, 03:00 PM
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Old 05-15-2012, 03:43 PM
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My main thought ( and this my opinion only - should not be used as investment advice) on S dot com is that they will be out of business in less than 2 years barring a major score of one type or another. They have a quarterly loss of 4.5M on total revenue of 17.5M or 26% loss. With cash reserves of approximately 41M they have 10 quarters or less of operations.

Their quarterly loss is growing at a faster rate than their revenue growth so the speed at which they are heading toward the wall is accelerating. Their contract pricing/revenue is pressured severely downward by offshore providers who are able to do this more cheaply and it is apparent that their recurring revenue is not enough to cover their costs on it's own.

As to their model - the biggest hurdle for remote only (or any service business for that matter) is utilization of headcount. The physical overhead costs are small for them since their techs work primarily from home but they still have a steady expense burden in that they have to plan for xyz capacity at all times whether the phone is ringing or not. When it's not, money is flowing down the drain so to speak.

Their techs are one trick ponies so you really can't take a tech that is underutilized and put him or her on something else that generates revenue or at least moves the hours from indirect to direct.

As a result they have to be constantly manipulating the tech schedules and aiming to be slightly under staffed thereby leading to poor consumer perception and long response times.

How can you make a similar model work profitably? Not sure atm - I need to give that some thought.
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Old 05-15-2012, 06:27 PM
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Its all about marketing. Any time you can advertise and convince people that you "specialize" in something, it makes you seem more qualified and prepared for the job than others, even if everyone else is doing it.

For instance, I could heavily advertise that we are laptop specialist and that we are more qualified than anyone else when it comes to laptop repairs. This gives us the appearance of being specialists in this area and makes everyone else look like a jack of all trades, even though I may not really be doing anything different than my competition. This is of course according to marketing research and theory.

So the truth is, you do not have to specialize in anything as much as appear that you do to fill a niche. Even though everyone may do the same thing, if they are the only ones heavily advertising that they specialize in this area, then there is a good chance they will get a good amount of that business. Appearance is not everything, but its a large portion of the business.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:05 PM
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Well, S.com and Mrs. Brady are not alone. Somehow I ran across this bit of news...

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincitie...h-support.html

AARP and GS

Let the horror stories begin.

Oldtech, spot on. I can see the marketing value, but delivering the service is another story.

The more I am reading on this, the more I am insuring I do not make these mistakes.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callthatgirl View Post
Well, S.com and Mrs. Brady are not alone. Somehow I ran across this bit of news...

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincitie...h-support.html

AARP and GS

Let the horror stories begin.

Oldtech, spot on. I can see the marketing value, but delivering the service is another story.

The more I am reading on this, the more I am insuring I do not make these mistakes.
AARP is a complete sham, they will put there name on anything if you write a big enough check.
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Old 05-19-2012, 01:50 PM
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Sounds like Mrs. Brady's is like that too. So sad to see.

If I was to add on this service, I would hire techs to only support seniors and schedule those appts on those techs schedule. Not all techs are "senior" type techs.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:57 PM
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For those of you that are familiar with Seth Godin he posted on his blog about how to make money online (this goes for offline businesses as well). He had a list of 21 items, and #9 on that list:

Obsessively specialize. No niche is too small if it's yours.

Just like PCX said, if you can say you specialize in that particular market or product, etc. you will be looked at as the specialist, the expert, the go-to person for that.

Seth Godin actually has several blog posts about niches that are well wrth the read.
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Old 05-22-2012, 07:32 PM
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Default never competition

Even though companies like that might seem to be competition and a concern the truth is they never really are. When you consider what they bring to the table in the way of expertise and SLA's vs the level of service and expertise that you bring to the table it's like comparing apples to Kumquats. Their prospects are not your prospects.
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