NonPrime Times


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nonprime timesYou’ll probably remember from your school days that geeks may not have been cool, but they were the ones getting paid for their math answers. They were “odd,” but they also had the great job offers straight out of college with full benefits and signing bonuses with companies that were rated the “best companies to work for.”

Keeping up with technology is an everyday battle in all aspects of life and this battle is currently being won by the geeks. Embracing new technology can keep you ahead of the game and following are the most important reasons why you can’t afford not to be a geek.

Reason #1 – Geeks make more money.

Running a lean operation should not mean using manual processes. If you are thinking that you are saving money by opting out of the setup costs and the monthly fees that often come with improved technology systems, you are costing yourself more money in the long run. You are paying for that work to be done and not in the most efficient method, unfortunately. There is also the fear of being “nickled and dimed” to death. This is something to flesh out when choosing your technology partner. You want to know upfront what system changes are going to cost. You also need to know that it will pay off in the long run. It may be possible to quantify, but if not, you might look to general technology advancements that have proven their worth: fax machines to corporate email, workstations to networked computing and even wired to wireless, which has created an immediate benefit to most businesses.

Reason #2 – Geeks make more time.

Change happens—markets adjust—whether you want them to or not. It’s difficult to justify a dramatic change in how you do b­usiness, especially when what you are doing is working. In some industries, changes in technology evolve much more slowly than in others.

However, relationship businesses can benefit from technology by giving you more time to nurture those relationships you worked so hard to get. Prioritizing your upgrade path in areas that will help give you more time for relationships is the best approach. You don’t have to replace your entire model at one time; you can phase it in to make enhancements to your business processes. Staying up with technology gives your leaders and your team the advantage of more time to manage current relationships and just as important, develop new relationships.

Reason #3 – Geeks make smarter choices.

Putting systems in place to make the company and the team more productive will magically open the flow of new customers.

Sound too good to be true? Well, ask a geek. Geeks don’t lie; they live by numbers and numbers tell the truth.

You may have a manual process of obtaining new customers and feel that you have much stronger relationships with your customers because of it. Manual or automated, you are paying for that work to be done – and the manual process way has all kinds of hidden costs. The results of inefficient technology tools include decreased customer satisfaction, reduced employee morale, lack of scalability, higher overhead and customer churn—to name a few.

Changing technology tools can be difficult and it’s understandable to shy away from it if you’ve had bad experiences. There are key characteristics to look for when selecting a technology partner and they aren’t all technology related. Here are some questions a geek would never fail to ask in choosing a technology partner:

  • What experience do you have in our industry and what do you understand about my business model? (Conversations with family members at Thanksgiving dinner about how business is going are not qualifications.)
  • Is the system easily changed and scalable for growth? (Scalable does not mean you can add usernames at any time.)
  • Can you manage the transition to a new technology without downtime to our business processes? (This does not mean we only make changes over the weekend.)
  • What does it cost to add features and new enhancements? (Geeks can make their own changes now; you don’t want to be dependent on developers to make system configuration changes.)
  • Do you offer tools and support for the system? (We don’t mean a 3-ring binder; we want interactive, online help and immediate support.)
  • How will our employees be introduced to the new system? (Geeks don’t like long training sessions but prefer an intuitive system where they can grab the reigns and go.)
  • Will I need to hire more resources to manage the new system? (The point of new technology is not to hire more geeks but to empower the geeks we have.) The biggest question is, “Can you demonstrate how your system works for our specific business requirements?” You want to be thorough and test what vendors are offering. If they can’t easily offer you a short trial of the product, it may be a red flag. Geeks like to test drive before they buy.

Reason #4 – Geeks control more.

Changing your business processes from a manual or outdated process does feel like giving up control, but it’s like a rail on a 20th floor balcony of hotel. The rail is there to help you—not hold you back. Technology gives you more controls to provide your customers what they need. Having a better technology infrastructure gives you the ability to cater your services by customer type and size. Geeks are control freaks and that’s a good thing. Making a system wide change should be simple and quick to implement.

There are so many situations that are not controllable—such as market conditions or industry issues that affect production—that having a system in place that allows you to immediately adjust is mandatory. Making a change in technology should not be overwhelming. Your vendor should make the transition seamless and most of all, painless. You want a partner that doesn’t require you to manage them closely or hire more resources. During and after the process you want to see that you have more control of your processes and data.

Reason #5 – Geeks are decisive.

You want to be strategic in managing your business and not tactical. Enhancing a business by adopting new technology is a step toward increased profit margins, improved customer satisfaction and more efficient employees. Holding off on changes to your technology infrastructure can hold you back in all of these areas. There will be a point in the future where you will have no choice but to make a change. Planning your change and implementing it early before the competition is the ideal scenario. If you are playing catch-up, don’t wait too long as you may lose the confidence of your customers. You will most certainly lose employees to companies that provide better resources for them to do their job. Geeks are constantly researching and learning what systems are newly available to improve their business. Geeks have multi-year plans in place to make sure they are staying ahead. While always remaining flexible, they make decisions every day that improve profits and make customers happier.

So, be a geek. You’ll be glad you did and it will pay off short-term and long-term. As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to become a geek or even embrace your inner geek that may already exist within you. If you need assistance becoming a geek, I have years of experience and can lend a helping hand offering much wisdom and advice in this area. The rewards are endless and your business will benefit immediately.

Stephanie Alsbrooks is CEO, founder and head geek of defi SOLUTIONS Loan Origination System.

Originally published in Non-Prime Times magazine


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