Starting From Scratch – Not Once, But Twice18 Mar, 2001 By: Dealer Profile: imageSource
Starting From Scratch – Not Once, But Twice
How do you start a document imaging business from “ground zero” and transition it into a successful multimillion-dollar company in less than 5 years? Better yet, how do you do it twice? The answer is simple: ask Randy Davidson to do it. The president of Dahill Imaging Systems in Phoenix, Arizona has taken two start-up companies and transformed them into thriving multimillion-dollar businesses.
A Bold Risk
It was 1987 in Austin, Texas when Randy Davidson decided to open a Sharp dealership in midst of a poor economic climate. You may ask yourself, “Why would you want to start a business when the economy was so poor?” Davidson was quick to reply, “If we’d waited until the economy was strong, the opportunity would have passed us by.” With a twelve person staff that worked out of Davidson’s home, Dahill Industries had its beginning.
By 1990, Dahill Industries was a $2.4 million company with 23 on the payroll. Through an uncommon level of commitment to customer satisfaction, by the end of 1999, Dahill Industries was a market leading $30 million company with Texas locations that included Austin, San Antonio, Bryan/College Station, Tyler, Longview and Conroe. In 1996, Davidson expanded west and created a second company in Phoenix, Arizona, currently known as Dahill Imaging Systems.
A Distinguishing Edge
The business philosophy or mission statement of Dahill Imaging Systems in their short time of existence has been an uncommon commitment to their customers. Simply put, Dahill Imaging has pledged to their customers this guarantee, “total customer satisfaction.” How can something that sounds so simple be so hard to produce? “Companies claim that they are customer service oriented, but we take it to the next level,” proclaimed Davidson. “We guarantee our customers in writing that if for any reason they are not satisfied with the digital products they have from us, we’ll replace them. No questions asked.”
In 1999, Davidson and his partners sold the Texas locations to Global Imaging Systems, and remained on to run the day-to-day operations. In the fall of 2000, Davidson realized he missed the challenge and fun of building a company, so he resigned from his duties with Global and headed west to focus on his Phoenix, Arizona Company, Dahill Imaging Systems.
When asked, “Why start over? Why not just retire?” Davidson, 57, says with a smile, “I’m too young to retire. Besides I like the energy of the people here and think we can create something very special.” Now calling Phoenix his home, Davidson enjoys the challenges that lie ahead for Dahill Imaging Systems. “To get to this point has been very gratifying, but to say we are satisfied would be incorrect. Our goal is to be the largest independent dealer in Arizona with the highest rate of customer satisfaction,” says Davidson.
In less than five years, Dahill Imaging Systems has revenues exceeding $6.5 million. What is the secret to the rapid success of Dahill Imaging Systems? The answer is simple: commitment. Again, Davidson would rather have the focus go to the individuals who comprise Dahill Imaging Systems’ team. “We have a fantastic team assembled who strive for total customer satisfaction,” remarked Davidson. “If it wasn’t for their endless hours of dedication, Dahill Imaging wouldn’t be where it is today.”
A Stellar Sales Force
Total customer satisfaction doesn’t come easy. Part of accomplishing this total customer satisfaction starts with the Dahill Imaging Systems’ managers. The managers attend a weekly meeting to discuss customer relations, territory coverage, sales momentum and anything else to create an atmosphere where the customer is top priority. What makes this different from other companies? The meetings are held on Saturday mornings. Going beyond the normal workweek, the managers at Dahill Imaging Systems use a few hours of their Saturdays to engage in a dialogue on how to make Dahill Imaging Systems even better. “Taking customer satisfaction to another level means going beyond the norm. We don’t want to spend regular business hours in meetings when we should be out in the field cultivating relationships with our existing customers and creating new opportunities as well,” said Davidson. “We want our managers to have a pulse on our customers and prospects and the only way to do that is to be out in the field. That is why we have our manager meetings on Saturdays, we use that extra attention to make sure all of us are on the same page.”
Is this sacrifice for the betterment of the team? For the Dahill Imaging Systems’ team, sacrifice also has rewards. A program that Davidson started years ago and still offers today to the Dahill Imaging Systems’ team is stock ownership. Members of the Dahill Imaging Systems’ team are offered the stock ownership opportunity as part of their benefit package. “This is another way to motivate the team members because now they are personally accountable as an owner of the company,” stated Davidson. “We want each member of our team to feel personally accountable for each of our customers. The bottom line is that it takes the customer satisfaction commitment to another level.”
When asked what makes total customer satisfaction such an important ingredient in his formula for success, Davidson replies, “If you can keep the customer happy all the time, then there is no reason for them to look elsewhere for service. It’s when things go wrong or the customer has a problem that most companies begin to respond. Sometimes that’s too late. You’ve already put a negative thought into the mind of the customer.”
Davidson has rigorously communicated this philosophy to his team. “It sounds like a very simple formula, ‘Keep the customer happy at all costs,’” commented Davidson. “It is a lot harder than it sounds. That’s why a lot of companies say it but few actually do it. I’m proud to say we practice what we preach.”
Attention On Growth
Part of this commitment is territory coverage. While most companies rely on upgrading current customers’ equipment, Dahill Imaging Systems works extensively on landing new customers. Sales managers meet with reps in the morning to discuss their activity for the day and again at the end of the day to review and discuss issues that have come up, making territory coverage more effective and efficient. “Our mangers and sales reps go to great lengths to ensure that Dahill Imaging Systems gets every possible opportunity to land that potential customer,” said Davidson. “Like everything else in life, you create your own good fortune through preparation and execution of your plan. We want to put our sales reps in the best possible situation to close the deal. That’s why we go to great detail when it comes to territory coverage and training our salespeople.”
Scheduled to open this fall is Dahill Imaging Systems’ newly built 22,000 square foot facility. The new facility is centrally located and adjacent to major freeways and the Phoenix Airport and will host the teams that currently are in Phoenix and Tempe. “The new facility will accommodate our existing staff, as well as give us room to grow,” commented Davidson.
Dahill Imaging Systems currently has locations in Phoenix and Tempe, with plans of opening an office in Tucson this spring. Dahill Imaging Systems employs 55 people and is an authorized Sharp dealer.