Many of you reading my column on a weekly basis can remember life without technology, especially cell phones.
For our children, it is difficult for them to imagine a world without cell phones, smartphones, the internet and social media. You also can remember when your telephone bill was not the largest utility bill your business pays. In today's world we are more connected than ever, but it comes with a price both monetarily and in time. You can never seem to get away from the office now when you have a computer in your pocket disguised as a cell phone.
Nearly a decade ago, local entrepreneur Dan Host launched Wireless Consultants a business designed to help other businesses make smart technology communication decisions. Dan had worked in the wireless industry for over a decade as an employee and owner of a storefront as a wireless retailer for Alltel. He also worked eight years with Georgia Power selling their wireless service Southern Linc.
"The cellular sales model is a commission incentivized model," Host said. "There is constant upward pressure to sell more. I have always been a relationship based salesperson so my clients were also my friends. I needed to make a living selling them products, but I also wanted to help them get the best deal. I could see how tweaks to their plans or providers could save them significant money.
"With this in mind, I decided to put a business plan together and create a model that allowed me to get paid based on how much I saved my clients, instead of how much I sold them. It was a radically different idea and for a lot of my clients it seemed a little too good to be true."
The first client Dan pitched the idea too was Emmett Daniel, Jr., president of Daniel Brick and he signed up immediately and continues to be a client of Wireless Consultants.
"Dan is a super nice guy," Daniel said. "He had always been very helpful and responsive to my needs. When he told me about this idea I jumped at the opportunity. I felt that there had to be more affordable options. Dan continues to save our company significant money each month, while insuring that we have selected the best cellular, phone and internet providers. The more money he saves me, the more he makes. How can you go wrong with that model."
Host's company has grown exponentially. He has stumbled onto a unique market niche that specializes in solving a real pain point in most businesses. Businesses must have a minimum of $2,000 per month in communication expenditures to qualify for their services. Many of their clients have monthly bills exceeding $10,000. Their client list ranges from trucking companies, distributors to city and county governments.
On average they save clients up to 55 percent of their current expenditures on wireless and telephone service alone. Some of the most dramatic savings have exceeded 85 percent. One small city saw their bill reduced from $6,000 per month to $800.
Host has assembled a team of experts who know the communications industry and are very detail oriented. They audit every single bill and review every cell phone usage and every single phone use, every month. For some clients that is hundreds of calls per month. Part of their secret hinges on the relationships they have with the providers and algorithms they have created in their software that allow them to pick up on discrepancies. Brant Lowe, leads the audit team for the company.
When clients realized how dramatic the savings were for their wireless plans, they wanted Dan to evaluate their landline phones and broadband plans. Host recruited, Rick Hutchison who was a long time regional manager for Northland Communications to help in this area.
"Rick understands broadband as well as anyone in the market," Host said. "He has really helped our customers discover affordable options for their telephone and data needs."
Wireless Consultants model may seem a little too good to be true, but over and over their clients shared incredible stories of their partnership. There are not many business relationships based on the value of savings. I wondered if there were cases where they could not help a business save any money. Dan explained that those are very rare.
It has happened in cases where there are auditors in place in the companies that have in-depth knowledge of how these systems work.
"In those cases, it cost them nothing for our evaluation," Host said. "We only charge clients a percentage of their savings. Our incentive is to find them the best deal possible without compromising the quality of their service."
With the explosion of options and new providers constantly entering the market, retention has become important, especially for wireless companies. Cell phone companies had much rather move you to a more affordable plan than to lose you as a customer. However, they will not automatically switch your plan or even let you know there are better plans available. Host and his team monitor plan options daily for every market they serve and will adjust their clients plans monthly if necessary.
This is a problem that only will become more complex for most businesses as technology improves and clients demand more accessibility and options. Wireless Consultants has a team in place that can help navigate through this technology.