News

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2015 11:20 AM | Bill Factor

    3rd Generation Family Business

     

    Most people cringe at the term 'family business'. They say "how could you possibly do business with your family members and get along at the end of the day?". Not only did I get to work side by side with my father my whole life but now I get to work with my kids everyday as well. It is truly a surreal experience I would not trade for the world. 

    My son, Brad Factor, started working for the business full time in 2009 and has really transformed a lot of our technology and business practices. He oversees the whole operation. My daughter, Amanda Factor, came into the business full time in 2012 and brought her expertise in marketing, social media, and sales to build the brand and ensure continued growth.  

    Statistics with family business are quite alarming.  Less than 13% of family businesses are passed to the third generation. We are happy that we have surpassed that 13% and hope to have our business reach a 4th generation and beyond. 

    Here are the key characteristics that we feel can improve the success rates of future generations of any family business:

    1.There is no job that is above or beneath you. Just because you work for your family business does not mean you get the fast pass to success. When Bill started at CMS, he had to start from the ground up and that is a trait he instilled in his kids. They started at the company loading trucks and answering phones. On busy days, Brad and Amanda will be out on the warehouse floor loading trucks or out making deliveries. You have to step up when needed and you can't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Don't let your pride or dignity get in the way of success. 

    2. Create a positive business environment that people want to come to work. We have so many employees that have been with us for 10, 15, 30, some even 40 years! Longevity is a constant at CMS and we credit that to the small family business atmosphere with an open door policy. When you create an environment that people enjoy working at and love their jobs, that reflects on to your customers and brand as a whole. We hire from within which gives people opportunities to really grow their skills and advance. Many of our employees that work for us have kids that work for us as well. Its a family affair all around.

    3. Share the same goals and values. Honor every account and every delivery/transaction that you get. We truly feel blessed with every delivery we get the opportunity to make. Whether you give us one delivery a year or 12 million deliveries, we treat them all as if it was the most important delivery we have ever had. You don't know what tomorrow will bring and your smallest account can turn to your largest account and vice versa.

    4. Learn from past generations.
     Brad and Amanda are always listening to Bill Factor. From a young age, they learn how he conducted business and how he handles difficult situations. Hy Factor, Bill's father and the company founder, came into work everyday for as long as he was physically able. He passed away in April of 2015 but he was and always will be their mentor and the face of the organization. He was highly respected and everyone loved to get his advice and hear his jokes.

    5. Work harder than any other employee. Many third-generation owners feel entitled based on the past success of their family's business. They don’t want to go out there and work and get their hands dirty. They take the easy way out and this leads to failure. Nepotism is considered a negative in the business world, and family members need to work above and beyond the regular employee to earn the respect. Respect is earned and not given based on your last name. 

    6. Draw Boundaries. It is very difficult for family members to keep it all straight, but successful family businesses know where to draw the boundaries and what is acceptable and what is not.

    7. Evolve the business. The current generation running the company needs to stay open to new technologies and realize the business is always evolving. Technology that was once a really good idea could become outdated after a few years. If we didn't follow this rule, people would still be mailing in their delivery requests and waiting days latter for the horse and buggy. 


    8. Value family traditions. Brad, Bill, and Amanda Factor go for lunch together almost every single day. If you are at Manny's Deli around1pm, you can usually find us there talking business, politics, or the Blackhawks. 

    9. Preserve the family reputation. You have to be extremely conscious of how you carry yourself socially as your actions inside and outside of work reflect not only on yourself, but also on your family and brand’s reputation. 
    10. Trust. You can't successfully run a family business without trust. We have a family business with only 3 family members but everyone has different thoughts and ideas and you have to know that you can trust these people and that every person involved genuinely wants the best for the business.


  • Friday, June 05, 2015 11:20 AM | Elliott Zirlin

    Promotional products are a unique way to build your brand because they create such a strong connection with people.  Think of how many times you’ve heard of a customer referring to a favorite pen or favorite coffee mug.  This type of connection strengthens your brand!

    And the benefit of a strong brand leads to increased sales.  Research shows that 21% of recipients made a purchase after receiving a promotional product.   As you can see from these charts, promotional products are a powerful tool in your marketing mix.


    Brand Marketing


  • Monday, May 04, 2015 11:25 AM | Robert Harney

    Changing over to a Hosted VoIP solution will save your business money.  This solution consists of three main components.  These components are the Service Provider, the Wide Area Network (WAN) or connectivity better known as the bandwidth provider, and the network in your office known as the Local Area Network (LAN). 

    Each one of these components plays a critical role in creating a proper VoIP Solution.  Any one of these components if not properly optimized will cause your solution to fail.  Most often the blame goes to the Service Provider.  However, the issue most often lies with the Bandwidth provider (the WAN) or the office network (the LAN). 

    Let’s dive into each of the three components.

    The Service Provider:  This is the company that provides the software being used and the voice minutes.  The Service Provider determines the available feature set and system functionality. 
Important questions to ask:

    • Where is the Service Provider’s solution located?  Is it located in a data center? I have seen solutions based in the basements of people's houses.Is the data center a VoIP specific data center?
    • Is the data center optimized for VoIP? Most data centers are designed for data traffic and do not work well with VoIP.
    • How does the Service Provider handle redundancy and is it geographically diverse?
    • If your WAN or LAN fail, will the solution automatically reroute calls to cell phones or other devices? How do they reroute these calls? With a web interface?
    • When you call into the Service Provider, do they answer your calls live?
    • Does your Service Provider have a local technical support staff?  There are times when the only way to fix a solution is to have a local onsite support call.
    • Does the Service Provider proactively monitor your network?
    • Does the Service Provider provide you with a managed router?  This is extremely important in enabling VQ-QOS or better known as Voice Quality-Quality of Service.(VQ-QOS is actually a complete topic in itself)
    • How long has the Service Provider been in business deploying business class VoIP solutions?
    • Can they provide true voice grade end to end bandwidth solutions?  Or do they only provide their service over a third party internet provider or ISP?


    The WAN or Bandwidth provider:  This is also known as the Internet Service Provider or ISP.  In today's VoIP deployments most customers run with the BYOB being Bring Your Own Bandwidth.  In such cases many of these Bandwidth providers will promise the moon and stars all for $1.95.  The fact is, you get what you pay for when it comes to a VoIP solution.  Some ISPs actually look for VoIP traffic and will disrupt that VoIP traffic. The low cost providers, including cable and DSL service, are over-subscribed. These providers have what I like to refer to as the bathtub effect, meaning only so much water can get through the drain when you want to empty the tub. The #1 Reason why VoIP solutions do not work well or fail is the Bandwidth provider. 

    In today’s market, the reality is it can truly be better for a client to upgrade to a more expensive ISP which offers better throughput and a Service Level Agreement (SLA).  The service might seem to be slower but it actually is faster when speed tests have been performed.  Important questions to ask:

    • Does the ISP have clients on the specific BYOB service in your area and can you call them for a reference?
    • What minimum service speed do you need so the service will actually support VoIP? You have to take into account everything that is running over the ISP.
    • Does the provider offer a SLA or is it just best effort?
    • How many times a year is the provider down? How long are the outages?
    • What happens when the provider is down?  Is there a back-up solution in place? The reality is ISP's will fail.  How long is the average down time?  What does your company do during the down time?  What does it cost your business when your provider is down for an hour? Half day? A day? Two days? A week?
    • How easy is it to migrate ISP's if you start having issues with your voice and other data services?
    • What is your back-up plan?  Can you use a 3G/4G service? Will your VoIP provider work over the 3G/4G network?


    Your Network better known as the LAN:  I have been amazed at what I have seen.  I have seen switches placed under people's desks, cabling run across the carpeting, the use of multiple routers and weird wireless devices, and cables which have been spliced together.  I have seen routers which do not work with VoIP deployed in a network and I have seen switches circa 2000 deployed. Typically an investment in the LAN is required prior to deploying a successful VoIP solution.  Questions to consider include:

    • Will the VoIP Provider deploy a 24x7 managed VoIP enabled router with pro-active intrusion detection?  This is critical.  This is the device which will give voice a priority in a BYOB environment.
    • What is the make and model of your current switch?  Does it support PoE? Think of the switch as your super highway. Will your super highway support the required traffic during rush hour? 
    • Are your internet cables in your office properly terminated to a patch panel?
    • What is the condition of your Cat5/6 computer cabling and does it need to be upgraded? Think of the cabling as a road and is that road perfect and smooth? Or does it have a ton of pot holes? Everyone knows what pot holes do to a car.
    • Do you have servers?
    • Do employee's VPN into your network?
    • Do you have a lot of cloud based services in use? This includes employee's streaming of video's and music?  We have found that an entire internet connection can be choked-off by employees streaming music, videos etc.


    There is a lot to consider when deploying a proper VoIP solution to maximize your profit margin as I have discussed above. The three main areas being the Service Provider, the Bandwidth or ISP (most customers use a BYOB model), and your on-site network or the LAN.  All three of these need to be in working order prior to deploying a proper VoIP solution. 

    For additional information contact Open One Solutions, Inc. at 855-BIZ-VoIP (855-249-8647) or send us an email at info@openonesolutions.com.

  • Friday, April 10, 2015 10:53 AM | Mike Mazursky

    Do you remember your first BEA meeting?  I do.  It was November of 2001.  I was younger, at least half an inch taller and less experienced.  I was looking to grow my business, but was also more than a little apprehensive about attending my first BEA meeting.

    Entering a group of 30 plus people was intimidating.  While I was invited by an existing member who our firm had a strong relationship with, I knew I would be going into a room of total strangers.  Would people talk to me?  Would they like me?  What value could I bring to the group?  Will this be a waste of time?  Will I be embarrassed?  Will they have eggs…and bacon?  These and so many other real and irrational thoughts circled in my head.

    Turns out the group was filled with people like me.  They ran businesses.  They had clients.  They were interested in creating win-win relationships.  They were doing the things that led to being successful in business and life.  They were interested in what they could learn from others.  And they, too, were once nervous about coming to their first BEA meeting.

    I realized early on that the BEA could be a powerful resource and tool.  I invited more experienced members for coffee, and got to know and understand them by asking loads of questions.  This helped increase my learning curve in business.  I invited my network to visit the BEA, as it was a positive reflection on me, and I knew they would find value in attending.  I was able to access members who were happy to serve as a sounding board.  After a time, I even received a number of referral opportunities.

    Later, I joined the  BEA Board, and was able to see how the organization functioned, and how those that were on the Board ticked.  I eventually was fortunate to become president of the BEA for the 2007 and 2008 term.

    I credit this experience as president in catapulting my career.  The opportunity to speak in front of the group on a regular basis provided me the confidence to speak to any group.  The lessons I learned are practiced every day.  The opportunity to lead the Board, create direction, and build on the relationships cemented in the BEA was paramount in my decision to start North Star Benefits in 2008.

    Talk about scared.  Back in 2008, I knew that I needed a change, and I was confident that the best situation would be to have my own firm.  However, that didn’t stop the nervousness.

    I drew on my past experiences, thinking of other times when I was scared of doing what I knew was right.  I thought back to the days before my first BEA meeting. Thought about the fear that comes from taking risks, and reflecting afterwards on how those fears were unfounded.  I focused on the success, and pulled the trigger on starting what has been the best decision of my career.  Thank you BEA.

    Now, go out there and do something that scares you!

  • Tuesday, February 10, 2015 6:21 PM | Anonymous
    • 1.     Pick a topic
    • You are an expert in your field.  Write about what you know.  Your customers want to here what you have to say about your field.  Tell them about it.  What new product or material is now available that will change the way you do business?  What are the common mistakes people or business make when they don’t follow your advice?  What is a new regulation that will impact your industry?  Keep in mind who your audience is and what information will be most important to them.  It may be obvious to you, but your audience is probably unaware.

    • 2.     Write an introduction
    • Open with a quick story or example of your topic that will catch your audience’s attention.  It does not have to be long or draw out, but a quick experience of yours regarding the topic will help your audience relate.  In crafting the rest of the introduction there are three elements to keep in mind: introduce your audience to the topic you are going to discuss, describe how it impacts them, and outline how you will discuss it.

    • 3.     Make your point
    • Now you have your audiences’ attention, make you point. Follow your outline from the introduction and describe your topic in further detail.  Have supporting facts and statements for you arguments.  Provide examples to illustrate your point to your audience.

    • 4.     Conclusion

    Wrap it up.  Recap your major points.  Lastly give the audience a call to action.  Drive the audience to do something based on your recommendations.  It could even be as simple as “think about it”

    Thinks to keep in mind:

    Proof read

    Have someone else double check you work.  You do not what to post a blog online with spelling and grammatical errors, even worse, factual errors.  Double-check everything!

    Add a picture

    Most blog publishing outlets have a space for a picture.  A featured image is a great way to capture you audiences’ attention when they may not even be looking for your blog.  This is a must when publishing your blog on social media!  Make sure you are not infringing on copyrights.  Here is a great website for royalty free images that you can place in your blog. http://pixabay.com


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