Some like it hot
Providing consistently good service is one of the cornerstone philosophies of Auckland-based distribution specialist Chillisoft.
Unfortunately, says founder Geoff Cossey, in New Zealand it doesn’t take much to appear like a star as service standards have fallen so far.
“What astounds me is that it’s not rocket science, it’s a matter of knowing your products, responding quickly to requests, getting the orders out and being reasonable people to deal with,” he says.
Chillisoft started out in 1998 as a one-man band but Cossey says as the business has grown so has his confidence and has subsequently become more ambitious.
He admits to having fired the odd vendor and customer along the way and says Chillisoft is now going through an informal review process of its 400 active resellers.
“In the evolution of a distribution business when you introduce new products you say yes to anyone that wants to resell. Now we’re at the stage where we can take another look at things because, basically, we do well when our resellers do well.”
Cossey says Chillisoft offers most of its product as either a managed service or as a customisable installation in the belief customers should be able to choose from a menu.
“It’s the same as offering chicken or fish options. Death2Spam and Nod32 Antivirus fit in nicely with software as a service, in fact so does our own iTrack CRM and iFax systems. New Zealand businesses are sick of spending money on products and installations so it makes more sense to rent the service.”
He says many customers buy CRM but don’t use it, which can make it a difficult sell.
“You really need the equivalent of a personal trainer with CRM and that’s where resellers can act as consultants to show it’s a tool to support business processes.”
Yet however much Chillisoft grows Cossey says the company will continue to exclusively represent high margin products and work with vendors that share the same philosophy.
And while it does sell direct Chillisoft’s preference is for sales to go through resellers and uses technology to communicate with its resellers.
“We offer web-based training for those who can’t make it to a physical location and have live chat on the website. That’s great for dealing with resellers in out of the way locations and will work in our favour when we go offshore.”
Expanding offshore is definitely on the cards according to Cossey, who expects to open up an Australian office within the next six months.
Having invested in automated ordering systems and fully embracing technologies such as IP telephony Cossey doesn’t see further expansion as much of a headache.
However he does say it’s an ongoing challenge to manage growth.
“Not so long ago if we did ten sales a day it was great, now we average around 100 a day. On the up side, when you grow like that you can afford to refine your business processes and get strategic advice.”