Address: 3912 Pendleton Way Phone: 545-6900 Web site: www.telepoint.comE-mail: email@example.comFounded: 1987 Founder: Bruce Boyd Owner: Bruce Boyd and Larry Shinn Service/product: business telephone
systems and computer networks, sales
and service Employees: eight Revenue (2004): $1.2 million One-year goal: increase customer base
20 percent Industry outlook: Looks good, with the
deployment of voice-over-Internet-protocol
technology and voice-data conversions.
one-room office in Castleton and three employees.
The business plan called for two of them to make 50 cold calls a day, while the technician installed the systems. They got plenty of rejections, but within six months had 100 customers.
Today, the company has 1,500.
Like many new business owners, Boyd worked 14-hour days and six-day weeks. While the company struggled to become known, potential customers wanted references.
"I didn't have any because I was new," said Boyd, 51. "I had to convince them to give us a chance to earn their trust."
Call it Bruce Boyd's rule of three: A company's automated telephone attendant should offer only three choices-service/support, marketing or a directory, for example-and the chance to repeat the menu. More options can be confusing and fuel complaints.
Boyd should know.
He is president and founder of Indianapolis-based Telepoint Voice and Data Systems, which sells and services telephone and computer systems.
"When businesses buy our stuff, they want three things," Boyd explained. "To cut costs, to improve [customer service], and to make their people more productive. ... If the receptionist isn't efficient, then the business loses money."
Indeed, even the most capable receptionist would be hard-pressed to answer phones as efficiently as one of Boyd's automated attendants.
"An automated system can take 30-40 calls at a time," he said, and it also answers the phone on the first ring, is never rude, and doesn't put callers on hold.
The ideal might be a pleasant person who takes calls 24 hours a day, he admitted, but that's not realistic.
Enter companies like Boyd's, which help businesses navigate the technology.
"We take the complicated and we simplify it," he said.
He started Telepoint in 1987 after four years in hospital management and six years in general management and phone systems. "No one was specializing in small to medium-[size] business phone systems," Boyd said. "People were ignoring the 100-employee-and-under business market."
Boyd, who'd always wanted to run his own company, had found his niche. Using his personal savings, he started with a
Managing cash flow was another struggle.
"Our business is inventory-intensive," Boyd said. "If a system goes down, we need parts."
Constant changes in technology compounded the problem. So in the early days, he often went without a paycheck.
The last five years were challenging because of what Boyd calls the "Y2K hangover." Many businesses bought new or upgraded equipment in 1999 because of concerns about technology glitches at the turn of the century. As a result, they didn't need anything else for a while.
Boyd declined to discuss the down time in any detail, but said business started picking up six months ago.
Its current client list includes IBJ Corp., which publishes Indianapolis Business Journal. Wayne Dunn, IT manager for Family Buick and Family Mitsubishi, is another satisfied customer, calling Telepoint efficient and responsive.
"When anything happens, I call Telepoint and it gets taken care of no matter what the problem," Dunn said. "They are very detail-oriented and quick to respond to any concerns or issues."
That's intentional. Competition is fierce, Boyd said, since "anyone can sell you the gear." So his company focuses on service and support. Referrals are the best marketing strategy, he said.
"When people call for service, they need to know three things: 1. Can you fix it? 2. When? [and] 3. How much?" Boyd said.
The challenge, then, is to convince customers the cheapest option might not be the best one.
Mike Chrapla, president of Rapid Delivery of Indiana, has found Telepoint to be a good value.
"There are less expensive things out there," he said, "but they don't do as much."
The phone-system business is inventory-intensive, Telepoint owner Bruce Boyd says. Clients can't wait long for replacement parts, so he has to keep some on hand.