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What: Service that helps
salespeople manage relationships with prospects
Who: Morris Shepard of Impact Systems Inc.
Where: Littleton, Colorado
When: Started in 1995 keeping in touch with prospects
Keeping in touch with prospects can be a daunting task, and nobody knows it better than Morris Shepard. Having worked as a stockbroker and a sales manager for car dealerships, Shepard knew from past experience how difficult it was to maintain regular correspondence with customers.
In fact, Shepard often thought about doing something to simplify the process. In 1995, Shepard got the idea for a new software program that would automate the process. And with the expertise of a software developer, Shepard's signature program was born and christened the Sequential Client Contact System.
Today, Shepard's business uses that software to make it easier for salespeople to stay in touch with prospects and forge new potential business relationships. Because of the new program, gone are the hours spent drafting thank-you notes and letters for countless customers on a recurring basis. For a mere $95 per salesperson, Impact Systems does all the work instead.
Shepard, 48, makes daily trips to clients' offices, picks up prospect contact information from salespeople, and then enters the information into a database. Notes and letters--a total of 15 over a five-year period per prospect--are printed out on either letterhead or card stock. These are delivered to the client, who simply signs the correspondence and drops it in the mail.
The software also allows Shepard to track the overall effectiveness of advertising, such as which models sell well in specific ZIP codes. He provides this information free of charge to customers, which include car and motorcycle dealerships and mortgage companies.
Sales for 2001 pushed past the $200,000 mark, and 2002 sales are expected to increase nearly 30 percent. Shepard is currently working on modifying the software so realtors can use it as well, and eventually he would like to license his software to other entrepreneurs who are interested in starting similar businesses.
In Golf We Trust
What: A tee-time auction Web
Who: Mike Castelluccio, Sean Cripe, John Martin and Mike Schaefer of GolfUS.com
Where: Avon, Indiana
When: Started in 2000
In basic terms, GolfUS.com could be considered the eBay of tee times. Back when Mike Schaefer, 37, and John Martin, 35, publishers of the Indiana Golf and Travel Guide, met Web designers Mike Castelluccio, 28, and Sean Cripe, 30, at a golf show in Indianapolis, the idea to auction off tee times struck these golf enthusiasts as a potential business concept. By the end of the show, the four would-be entrepreneurs had decided to join creative forces and launch GolfUS.com.
It works like this: The partners design and host high-end Web sites for golf courses in the Midwest in exchange for tee times that are then put up for auction on the GolfUS.com website. And, judging from the high bidding rate, the concept is a formula for success. "Probably 98 percent of the auctions sell," says Schaefer.
It's a win-win situation for everyone involved: Golfers get tee times for up to 50 to 70 percent off regular prices, golf courses get their sites designed and hosted without spending extra money, and GolfUS.com gets to keep the revenue from auction sales. And with almost 50 more golf courses expected to come on board this year, 2002 sales are projected to exceed $650,000.