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At Your Service

Is your service center living up to its potential? Find out how to get all you can from yours.

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This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

As co-founder and head of the factory service center for ImageStream Internet Solutions, Doug Hass is in charge of making sure his company services the Linux-based network routers it manufactures. But there's more to the repair work done by the Plymouth, Indiana, business than keeping customers happy by replacing burned-out circuit boards and soldering loose sockets. ImageStream's factory service center is an important source of ideas for new products and product improvements, while also profiting from hourly service fees. "What comes back from customers helps us design for customers--everything from where the power switch is located to the fact that a cable is hard to get to," says Hass.

ImageStream's effective use of its factory service center sets it apart from most manufacturers, according to a 2002 study by New York City management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Most companies have realized only a fraction of their service center's potential, McKinsey & Co. found. It's not just about using customer feedback, either. Many companies selling products for as little as $100 per unit could generate 20 percent of revenues-and an even higher percentage of profits--from fully realized service center networks, but most produce less than half that.

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