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Making an Impact

8 May, 2008 By: Sand Sinclair imageSource

Making an Impact

Each year, ITEX, one of the industry’s leading tradeshows, welcomes dealers,
resellers and VARs to its expansive show floor. Thousands of attendees converge
for education and vendor product review, forging new partnerships – and - to
attend the annual Perfect Image Awards’ reception that nationally honors
selected dealerships for outstanding performance in the channel.

Dan Meyer, president of Impact Networking, and Tom Pieters, vice president of
sales, climbed the stage not one but three times to pick up Impact’s
well-deserved awards, including the coveted Dealer of the Year presented by ITEX
founder, Marc Spring. Not withstanding, two important categorical awards were
presented to the company, including Best Implementation of Technology Strategies
and Most Innovative Customer Retention Program. Industry peers who attended the
reception came to recognize what Impact Networking’s management and customers
knew firsthand, that this company is an innovative, successful dealership on the

So what makes Impact Networking such an outstanding office equipment
dealership? The answer is found in how the company became a prominent business
leader as well as a great place to work.

Making a Difference

When it comes to being an outstanding single-source solutions partner in
digital enterprise, apparently Impact Networking’s programs and policies make a
substantial difference. Impact has, without question, garnered their clients’
confidence, have implemented strategies that have increased their profit
margins, and have an enviable business model that is effectively working, with a
stockpile of industry awards to prove it.

Since 1999, Impact has been empowering their customers with innovative
technologies for effective document management solutions. The management
principals themselves combine more than 70 years experience of offering
state-of-the-art solutions to the Chicago-land, southeastern Wisconsin and
Indianapolis markets. Today, there are seven regional offices impacting their
designated regions.

Originating as a hardware dealership almost a decade ago, going from analog
copiers to digital enterprise solutions, from paper-based offices to modern
offices now managing documents electronically, the transition and growth has
been dynamic. Realizing that the backbone of any company is effectively managing
documents, Impact developed a formal retention policy that was easily accessible
yet secure and cost-effective. This resulted in organizations wanting Impact to
help them with the transition from hard copy to electronic file management,
increasing their productivity, efficiency and accessibility. Impact naturally
saw the opportunity for both their customers and the company to enhance their
overall business process.

Meyer says, “Impact Networking has been delivering high quality office
equipment and outstanding service since its inception. In the changing economic
climate today, we know it’s imperative to provide solutions that deliver a
significant impact to our customers business.” Meyer’s indicates that the
industry’s providers serve a saturated market and customers have more difficulty
in deciphering which vendor has the most potential for them. This reason is why
Impact deploys several strategic initiatives to assure their large client base
that they are with a real market leader that makes a difference – a dealership
whose portfolio offers “single-source provider” solutions to help grow their
clients’ business. These solutions consist of:  Digital Office Equipment,
Document Management, Scanning Services, Networking and Telecommunication,
Creative Services, and Strategic Services. This approach eliminates the
customer’s need to have multiple vendors involved in a strategic document
management initiative.

Training Camp

According to Kristen Shepherd, human resource manager for the company, since
the inception of their Strategic Services Division, Impact’s document management
business grew by 464%. That is a staggering number by all accounts and well
above the growth rate of the “doc management” industry itself. They attribute
their higher profit margins to their investments and dedication to the strategic
services/document management processes of their business. This includes
extensive sales and support training and mandatory CDIA+ certification for all
employees, excluding only administrative personnel. New sales representatives,
in an effort to be one of the best trained and most technically astute, attend a
two week "boot camp" to introduce them to Impact's culture, including sales
skills approach, territory management, and product knowledge. Many "spec tests"
and homework assignments are required. The first 90 days of training also
requires vigorous online training at their manufacturer's locations, such as
Sharp, Kyocera, Dell, or others. 

Competition Games

To keep the sales force competitive, in the spring season Impact’s branches
compete against each other in the renowned “Glengarry Glen Ross” Olympics, named
after the famous play & movie. Each salesperson is expected to answer a 150
question written test followed by a 50 question oral exam. And, perform 10 job
skills on hardware devices and another 10 with the software the company
supports. Judges include all sales managers and a few manufacturers’
representatives. There are individual prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and the
winning branch spends a day at beautiful Wrigley Field in Chicago, while the
losing teams cold call in the winning team’s territory.

In addition, Impact's own advanced sales training certification, which is
moving decidedly in a Document Solutions Sales Skills direction, should be
completed and implemented sometime in 2008.

First Things First

Priding themselves on delivering a smooth transition for each client,
Impact’s ultimate goal is the implementation of all or most all of the processes
needed to handle the infrastructure of an organization, creating a synergy of
being the total solutions partner. Their hardware includes high speed full color
copiers/printers/MFPs, faxes and scanners, etc., to document management
processes which include tracking the entire document lifecycle. They also
address off-site back file conversion scanning services in their recently
completed facility in Lake forest, IL.

After first completing a Document Impact Assessment for a client, and the
scope of work (SOW) has been agreed upon, Impact begins the arduous process of
managing a client’s conversion from hard copy to digital documents. Scanning
with the most efficient hardware becomes a first priority, then indexing for
retrieval, using the latest technologies for fast, accurate data capture.
Impact’s software partners include DocuWare, SentryFile, WaveScan, and
KYOCapature. They tailor the data to each specific job requirement, including
the use of bar coding to automate indexing.

Impact Networking has also partnered with industry leaders such as Microsoft,
Dell and Avaya to provide complete end to end voice and data communications and
security, such as Voice and Data cabling, Microsoft Small Business Server
running on an Enterprise class Dell servers, or Avaya phone systems integrated
with Microsoft Outlook. Impact is becoming "Outsourced IT" for their clients who
now rely on them for complete Network Integration, Management and Monitoring.
Impact feels that this proactive approach allows their clients to focus on their
core business activities rather than focusing on the technology that enables
their business’ productivity.

Celebrating Achievements

With 190 employees, Impact Networking is eager to celebrate its tenth
anniversary in business, a marker that indicates that they’ve worked hard,
indicated by an average of more than 40% annual revenue growth. They now have a
five year plan that projects quite a profitable landscape. Moving forward
through expansion and acquisition, maturing as a company on the move, Meyer
forecasts growth to be at $60 million by 2010, doubling Impact’s original 1999
business plan of $30 million by 2010. One of the primary reasons to plan for
higher profit margins is their investments and focus on the strategic
services/document management processes arena.

Besides working hard to provide quality programs and services, Impact fosters
a work environment for their employees that led to the company being named as
one of the “30 Best Place to Work in Illinois” in 2007, sponsored by the
Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Central Illinois Business Publishers, The
Springfield Business Journal, and Best Companies Group. Impact employees remark
that the company allows people to excel and advance and gives them the
opportunities to do so. In addition, other notable awards of merit from experts
such as J.D. Powers, Kyocera (Impact’s their second largest dealer in the U.S.),
the BTA, and imageSource’s Perfect Image Award, among others, are markers to the
industry and their clients that they are “flagged” as a winner. It’s no
coincidence that their name befits them as they continue make a real “impact” in
providing top-notch office technology solutions.

Reflecting on the company’s achievements and latest award, Meyer’s says he is
honored with winning the 2008 Perfect Image Award for Dealer of the Year. He
says it has significance for both their customers and the company’s employees
who work to make Impact what it is today. He says it’s an indicator that the
team as a whole is on target in executing the strategies and policies of the
company’s business philosophy: To result in extreme customer satisfaction first,
leading to increased company profits, and employee willingness to excel and

There is no doubt that electronic document management is leading the future
of the industry, and the award winning Impact Networking dealership in Illinois
is leading the way.

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