Gary D's Take

Your Internet Will Go Down!

Your Internet Will Go Down!

Feb 16, 2020

No matter who your primary provider is. No matter what product you have. At some point your internet is going to quit on you. For small businesses this used to be a risk worth taking when balanced against the cost of a secondary provider. That has changed….. VOIP telephone systems in the cloud, cloud based Point of Sale, credit cards over the internet and just the nature of our cloud based business models has made the internet a critical part of even the smallest small business. Two things that I ran across in my travels convinced me that even small businesses have a mission-critical need for internet access.

In little Samson Alabama population about 2000 (on a good day), the owner of the Piggly Wiggly has two internet services in his store. Why you ask? Because if he loses internet he can’t take credit cards which is 60% of his receipts. In the era of chip cards, there is no run the paper slip anymore. He can’t take EBT cards (which is 35 to 40 % of his receipts) and he really can’t take checks since he verifies them with an online service. He could take one but if its not good, he’s on his own. It’s actually really hard to take cash since his Point of Sale system lives in the cloud. He realized that if his internet was out he was done! Since at that time his was about the only grocery store in the area, his daily receipts were from 9000 to 15,000 dollars per day (albeit on razor thin grocery store margins). A day or two of that and he would be out of business, especially if it happened on his biggest day Saturday. This business owner is one of the smartest guys I have ever met. The extra monthly cost paled in comparison to what he would lose.

I have visited scores of small boutiques and retail stores over the years. Starting about 4 years ago, I noticed they all had some kind of an online, cloud based cash register. Once again, no internet……no cash register and no credit cards. Even Mom and Pop restaurants have gone cloud based. One particular customer of mine in Tuscaloosa only had to have his internet go out at high noon with 10 people waiting to pay for their lunch to get him on the band wagon. Of the ten,eight people said they would come back and pay when his internet was back on. I think he is still waiting on 4 or 5 of them to return. His average check is about 10 dollars so 40 or 50 dollars walked out never to return. That would just about pay for a redundant provider.

If you haven’t already, take a minute to estimate what no internet for a day or even half a day would COST you. When you do you will quickly see that the idea of a backup internet isn’t as crazy as it used to be. Then call me…I have some ideas for you.

Six simple steps to get control of your email address!

Six simple steps to get control of your email address!

Jun 18, 2016

What if you woke up tomorrow and your email address was suddenly

If you use an email address that is controlled by your carrier it could happen. The operative word here being CONTROLLED. Entrepreneurs and self-employed people are well known for wanting to be the masters of their own destiny and the captain of their ship. There are tons of books and articles about how these kind of people struggle with being good managers because they have a hard time delegating because they can’t relinquish control. Yet every day, I see hundreds of these people putting one of the most critical communications and marketing tools of their business in the hands of a big corporation when their email address is Why would you want to promote the telecommunications company you happen to be using every time you send or receive an email?

Three Reasons To Make This Change?

  1. Email may be the most important business communications tool of the 21st Century.

How many emails do you send or receive every day? How many important documents do you receive or send each and every business day? How many new customers do you start to interact with VIA EMAIL? How important are those emails going back and forth between you and your customer base to keeping them happy AND KEEPING THEM AS CUSTOMERS? COME ON PEOPLE, THIS IS A BIG DEAL! Why in heaven’s name would you want to entrust that to a company that it takes you 45 minutes to get on the phone?

  1. Sometimes YOU need to make a change!

    Nothing in our modern society stays the same for very long. Change is the only constant. All kinds of companies are merging and changing their focus. After being one of the first companies in the world in the PC business IBM decided that they needed to be OUT OF the PC business. IBM started the PC business and helped change the way we do everything but now THEY DON’T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE! The email at is an example I used to use during the old Bellsouth days. Lots of folks had email addresses, heck I had one. What if they had decided to shorten it? Shorter is better, right? Hence The point is, companies you deal with sometimes do things that are not necessarily in your best interest. When this happens, you may have to look elsewhere for that product or service. If your email is IT BELONGS TO THEM! The Number Portability Act federally mandated that you be able to take your telephone numbers with you to whatever carrier you chose, EMAIL ADDRESSES ARE NOT COVERED! The carrier OWNS that dot whatever domain and owns YOUR EMAIL. If you need to change carriers, you can’t take that with you. Even if you are not planning on going anywhere, why not go ahead and get this taken care of for all the reasons I have already mentioned above.

  1. You probably already have it.

Just about every company and organization today has a presence on the internet. You probably have some kind of a website at a descriptive domain name. or or something else that helps promote what you do. Almost every web hosting company on the planet INCLUDES email at your domain in their packages at no extra cost. You probably have this and you are not using it. You are wasting money that you have already spent.

Hopefully you are on board with this idea now and are ready to make it happen. 🙂

Here are the 6 simple steps to changing your email:

  1. Get your new email up and running

Contact your hosting provider and get your new email set up. One of the benefits of email at your domain is you get to get rid of all the crazy extra stuff that you have to add because you aren’t the only John Smith on the system. Instead of being now you can be or just john!


Forward your old email to your new one so that when you respond to email, they get your new email address. Change your printed materials and all your other advertising to reflect your new email address. Remember the old one is forwarded so you still get those.

  1. Set up an autoresponder on your old email.

Auto responder is something every email has. It just basically sends an email to everyone that sends you an email an important message like “I will be on vacation all week.” Or “We got your message and will respond to it promptly” Just set this up on your old email to tell people that your address is changing.

  1. Send an email to everyone you normally market to via email and let them know you are changing.

If you don’t have a list of emails that you regularly send information to you should. Most folks do. Send those people a message that your emails are changing. BTW send it from the NEW one and the old one.

  1. Talk about the change.

Put it in your newsletter Post it on social media. TALK to your customers about it during your normal conversations with them. “Oh by the way Mr. Customer, we are changing our email addresses to . “How hard is that?

  1. Put up a sign in your office that notifies people about your new email address.

If you have foot traffic to your business put up a sign in the lobby or on the door or at the checkout counter or all the above.

If you follow these simple steps you will be surprised at how easy the change will be.

Your Legacy Phone System

Your Legacy Phone System

Dec 23, 2015

Abandoning a legacy system altogether simply isn’t feasible for some businesses.

After investing thousands of dollars into equipment,from handsets to the system itself, retiring the system might be out of the question. If you are reading this , however, it has become evident that your business has outgrown its current system, your legacy system is lacking modern features that could help you gain competitive advantage, and/or your business is expanding rapidly. Obviously, simply retaining your legacy system and hoping that it will continue to meet future demand is much like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand.

Businesses that are well-served by their existing system and looking to avoid the cost of new equipment may opt for legacy system integration. Integration solutions allow an enterprise to keep its existing system and free up the capital expense for other expanding business needs. According to PC World’s Zack Stern, “Your biggest savings could come from cutting your current Analog/ISDN PRI/BRI cord—the phone ‘trunk’ into your business,” Stern says. With IP trunking in its place, you instead connect through the internet, sharing phone traffic with your Internet service. “The switch can streamline your monthly fees. But you’ll have to add hardware to make this transition. Many  systems can work with your currently installed system hardware. You’ll connect from the  phone system into  controller hardware, which in turn connects to your Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP). The ITSP finally taps into the public phone network, reaching anyone on any phone.”

However, integration is a poor choice for enterprises where:
*Business growth has exceeded system limits
*The business requires remote office integration
*The business requires telephony features not supported by existing system

According to TechDay, the rising costs of keeping a legacy system reliable under increasing demand—not to mention a more competitive business environment—is simply not viable for some modern businesses.

As Jon Arnold, principal at J Arnold & Associates explains it: “Businesses have never had so much choice … when making decisions around telephone systems.”


Six Common Telecom BOOBOOS

In thirty plus years, I have seen lots of things when it comes to how telecom services get handled. These are the six things that seem to be repeated over and over on thousands of  plans.

1. Buying the inside wiring coverage
The inside wiring plan sounds like something that should be very beneficial to the consumer. IT’s NOT! If you read the fine print there are additional charges that will  be incurred for just about everything they might do INSIDE. Basically you are paying for nothing.This is true for telcos and cable companies.

2. Unlimited Long Distance
If you use 1000 plus minutes of long distance every month, this is a fairly good deal. Let’s face it, most folks don’t use that much. I recently told a client, "you  paid thirty five cents per minute for your long distance last month." The client replied . "No we have UNLIMITED long distance!" "Right", I said, "which costs ten ninety five a month and you used 31 minutes last month." I have also seen people put unlimited long distance on all lines, also not good.

3. Buying domains , email and web hosting from your service provider                                                                                       If you were never ever, ever going to change providers this would be ok, but the reality of today’s environment says that at some point you will want to change. Moving these services away from your provider is painful and time consuming. It’s designed to be that way. How can I say that? For example,AT&T uses a domain registrar in Melbourne Australia called Melbourne IT. The only way to communicate with Melbourne IT is via FAX to their local number in Australia. Could they make it any more difficult? Coming soon…… AT&T’s new domain registrar, LUNAR IT!!!

4. Having more than six analog lines.
This is another one of those basic math story problems from grade school. Six  business lines cost $50 each or $300 per month. The average T-1 now costs about $300 per month and can handle up to 23 voice channels. How many lines past six does it take to make a T-1 the better deal? This will be on the test later….:)

5. Packaging feature deals on all your lines.                    Packaging features is a great idea for businesses with one  or two lines and regular phones. It’s a terrible idea for anyone with a phone system and three or more lines. I have seen bills with six line plans that have features on all six lines. Do you really want three way calling and voice mail on your third rollover line?

6. Assuming that “customer service”doesn’t mean SALES.
Customer service calls are answered in the sales department. I am not saying that the people you talk to aren’t nice people or that they are out to get you.They are sales people with quotas to make , families to feed and products to push. Never forget that. What is good for them may not always be what you need.

Will The Last IT Person Out The Door Please Turn Out The Lights…….

Will The Last IT Person Out The Door Please Turn Out The Lights…….

Mar 26, 2012

This may only be a reflection of the vacuum I have been living in for the last year , but I just became aware of something really disturbing. A new IT company came on my radar screen called 323  Technology Solutions.  They whimsically characterize themselves as “the best technology company you never heard of.” I thought , “Yeah Right!” since they had not appeared to me previously. As I perused the company profile I noticed a common denominator in the employees, they all used to work in IT at Ready Mix USA. ALL TEN OF THEM! WOW….so the IT department at Ready Mix just emptied out in 2011. Which coincides with the buyout of Ready Mix by CEMEX, a Mexican company that says it is the largest concrete maker in the world, in 2011. Once again , some may say DUH where have you been, but I was shocked. Over the years, I have had some dealings with Ready Mix and I had no idea.

The formation of 323 Technology also makes me think of another thing, none of these folks has been able to find suitable employment here in Birmingham so they started a company of their own. Being somewhat familiar , that really resonates with me.
So what does the future of IT in Birmingham look like? With the number of large corporation headquarters in Alabama shrinking and Regions as the only Fortune 500 company in the state , will we see the kind of corporate IT jobs represented by Ready Mix USA continue to go away?
On the bright side, the other thing that this kind of shift does is make IT talent available to more small companies. The expertise formerly contained in Ready Mix’s IT department is now available to many smaller companies.
Best of luck 323!

What will 2012 bring us? Its really up to you!

What will 2012 bring us? Its really up to you!

Jan 2, 2012

“In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”

-Warren Buffett



There are people who are waiting for the stock market to come back or the results of the election.

They are waiting to see what somebody else is going to do!

I heard somebody the other day say,” I am waiting to see what the big boys do. Small business is driven by what big business does.”

What drives big business? Consumers and demand drive big business. Do big businesses “wait” to see what consumers are going to do? Of course not , they do things to create demand and drive business. Notice what I said “do things”.

A friend of mine was lamenting the sorry condition of sales at his company. His comment was . “Nobody is doing anything right now.” Once again , that “doing” word. So if somebody was doing would be better…right?

We had lots of changes in 2011in technology and in the business climate. Most would say that the  business changes were not for the good. Companies that historically did business a certain way found that things just didn’t work the way they used to. Markets like housing changed forever….they will never be the same again.

There are three kinds of people:

Those who make it happen.

Those who watch what happens.

Those who wonder what happened.

Vast sweeping changes have ended civilizations and dynasties. They also create gigantic opportunities for the ones who can adapt and capitalize on them. Will you be one of the ones that embrace the changes and use them to create new opportunities or are you waiting?