Outstanding Performance: Cell Business Equipment12 Sep, 2011 By: Editorial Staff imageSource
Cell Business Equipment (CBE) is privately owned, self-funded, and an owner-managed business headquartered in Irvine, California with branch offices in West Los Angeles and the City of Industry. Accordingly, “We have successfully cross-trained 5 generations of workers (Silent, Boomers, Gen X, Y and Z) to create a positive workflow of emerging technologies. We’ve integrated long-term employees with newly hired college graduates.”
CBE owner Tarek Hafiz explains: “We focus on camaraderie that extends from our employees to our clients. We continue to reinvent ourselves to meet the changing business environment. Notably, we began selling analog equipment in 1992.”
CBE is an authorized Sharp, Ricoh and Canon dealer who offers much more to their clients than just copiers. Their solutions sales include printers, digital copier equipment, color, wide format, MFPs, mailing systems, computer equipment, managed print services, network administration, software, document management and personal business assessments.
“Owning a successful office equipment dealership is much more complicated than it was a decade ago,” says Hafiz. “The strength, longevity and success of CBE have never been driven by the products and services that we sell. The people who work for and with CBE and the community we serve and support are the real reasons for CBE’s success.”
Hafiz believes “If you genuinely care about and take care of your employees and clients, they will take care of your business. The CBE senior management is socially liberal and financially conservative. During good economic times and bad, CBE has always reinvested in the business and the community. Part of every dollar we make is set aside to donate back to worthy causes within our local community. Each year’s business plan includes capital reinvestment in CBE’s infrastructure and the ongoing education of our employees.”
Hafiz goes on to say that “CBE understands that our customers, employees, community, vendors, OEM, local, state and federal government all reap the benefits of the success of our labor. CBE and other local businesses all help to spread the wealth in our capitalist society. Each dollar that is earned through our sales efforts helps pay for our company-funded health insurance, 401K, Medicare, Workman’s Compensation, unemployment insurance, social security and governmental taxes that helps to support our American life style.”
“Through the years we have shared the joy of employee graduations, marriages, births, new cars, new homes, vacation plans, achievement recognition trips, new product launches, company picnics and holiday parties. CBE is a collection of people working together for the common good. We are an extended family that understands working together, sharing the risks and rewards of the office equipment business, and enables the individual staff members to join in a common quest for personal, business and community enrichment.”
Additionally, through good times and challenging situations, CBE has stayed the course; never over spending, never under budgeting. “Our accounting practices use sound accrual methods. Even though we may receive a payment for a full year’s maintenance agreement in advance, the money is held until it has actually been earned,” adds Hafiz.
“Our biggest challenge the past few years has been that the OEMs are selling directly to the enduser. We realized we could not successfully compete with them directly. Their pricing was below our break even point. We quickly learned which type of accounts the OEMs are actively soliciting and which areas of commerce they seemed to ignore. In the greater Southern California area we continue to be able to identify hundreds of selling opportunities.”
Says Hafiz, “We cannot depend on our OEMs to provide the knowledge and products we need. Hybrid-sales require a fusion of knowledge and diversity of products. A broad spectrum of industry knowledge is essential. When a client expresses a need, the Hybrid-dealer must assemble the necessary products and tools to create a customized solution to exceed the client’s expectations. As a Hybrid-dealer, we have learned to focus on the client’s need. No longer can we just try to meet our OEM’s quarterly quota.”
CBE’s attention to detail and genuine concern for the well being of their clients has enabled them to maintain a strong customer loyalty and retention. With a customer base that remains secure, growth is a natural extension of gaining new customers.
Client retention is achieved when they listen, create a feasible plan, explain and implement the process, train the user, follow-up accordingly, make necessary modifications, become a trusted member of their “extended” staff, help the client measure and manage their information, and exceed their expectations on a daily basis.
“Our staff is trained to be very aware of subtle cues of a client’s discomfort. One dissatisfied user can undermine or sabotage the entire installation. We often find we can streamline a process beyond the client’s level of comfort. An administrative clerk may fear their job will be eliminated by the new software. A manager or IT personnel may not want to lose a sense of control. Often we soften the power of the software to the comfort level of the client.”
Hafiz continues, “Our goal is to find each client’s area of business processes inefficiency, then diplomatically improve their flow of information. We must find a way to do this without disrupting their daily procedures or company culture. We must be technologically proficient enough to find methods that will provide a fair profit to our company while reducing the overall cost for the client. In order to save the client 10%-20% and cover our company’s cost and needed profit, our Technology Solutions Provider Team is truly made up of miracle workers.”
Knowledge is Power
CBE believes in education. Knowledge is power. Once gained, knowledge is the key to being able to provide emerging technology to their clients. CBE offers tuition reimbursement for educational expenses to their employees; technical, general education, college and graduate work. If it is educational, CBE will support it. CBE takes advantage of industry educational offerings keeping their knowledge and contacts current. This includes; magazines, webinars, conferences, e-newsletters, user groups, trade organizations, Internet, social networking, etc.
CBE hired Byron Aulick from DataVault to do in-house training. As a CDIA/CDIA+ certified instructor, Byron taught an intensive 3-day certification class to CBE employees. Participation was open to any employee who wanted to attend. After the in-house CDIA+ training, staff members from sales, service and integration mastered the CompTIA tests and earned their CDIA+ certification.
This group training helped to create true team cohesiveness. CBE later used these collaborative skills to create profitable solution sales. Rather than each department competing against each other; the CBE-sponsored educational training enabled staff to understand the different strengths each member of the team possess. Currently CBE employees have earned PDIA, PDIA+, MCSE, Network+ and A+ CompTIA certifications.
Hafiz continues, “CBE’s emphasis on continual training has created a shared respect for one another. They have the skills, understanding and confidence to partner with their clients to achieve trust and business loyalty. When we do it right the first time, exceed the promises made, and become a vital business partner; customer loyalty is achieved.”
In addition, “We encourage and sponsor our employees to attend business conferences and events. This includes ITEX, InfoTrends, Lyra, OnDemand, World Expo, ProFinance, eAutomate Users Group, FIX, ProFinance, BTA conferences, OEM dealer meetings and OEM technical and sales training.”
At the 2011 ITEX event, CBE was honored as a recipient of the imageSource Perfect Image Award (PIA) for Outstanding Sales Program. In past years ITEX has recognized CBE as the recipient of the PIA for Outstanding Community Involvement as well as Best Use of Company Website. Collectively, the awards signify overall outstanding performance.
Tarek Hafiz sums up the CBE philosophy: “We acknowledge and thank all those people who have helped CBE grow and prosper over the past 19 years. We are honored by the longevity of our employees, vendors and clients. Service, administration and sales working together, creates a seamless package for our clients.”