Business View Magazine interviews Apryl Hanson, Head of Marketing for Blytheco LLC, as part of our focus on best practices in American businesses.
Blytheco LLC, with headquarters in Laguna Beach, California, is a full-service consulting firm that serves the small and medium-sized business community with installation and configuration of software solutions, process analysis system reviews and customization, and various marketing automation services. The company was founded in 1980 by its CEO, Steve Blythe, a CPA with experience from Price Waterhouse Coopers and Ernst & Young, and a recognized authority in the design, implementation, and support of business software and accounting and management reporting systems, such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Client Relationship Management), HRMS (Human Resource Management System), and PRM (Partner Relationship Management).
“Back in the day, Steve discovered that he could automate some accounting processes, instead of doing them manually, and make them go a little bit easier,” says Apryl Hanson, Blytheco’s Head of Marketing. “He was one of the first beta testers and users of a software solution called MAS 90, which is now a product owned by Sage and called Sage 100c. He was the very first reseller of the product line. So, the start of our company was, really, around having this desire to help companies automate their accounting processes. We continued to grow, adding more solutions and expanding, based on the needs of the customers.”
Today, Blytheco works with over 5,000 clients in many different industries, most of whom are distributors and manufacturers. In addition to its California headquarters, the company has offices in Minnesota, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, and approximately 110 employees in 26 states. “For us, it’s about the customer experience,” says Hanson. “We have customers that have been with us since 1980 because we don’t consider ourself a one-time implementation house. What we really provide is helping growing companies transform and change their technologies over time. Technology is not stagnant, and businesses are not stagnant. So, as a company grows, it has solutions that might need development or customization, and we will do that for them. The key differentiator is when our client talks about the experience with us, they really feel like we understand their business and we’re helping their business grow. It’s not about selling software; it’s really about us helping advance someone’s business and making things simpler.”
“We pride ourself on a couple of stats that, in the last few years, have become increasingly important,” Hanson continues. “A lot of implementations fail, and we have a 95 percent success rate when it comes to new implementation of software, and that’s because of the time we spend upfront, making sure that we really get to know their business and figuring out what the ‘gotchas’ will be. We’re not afraid to have difficult conversations about what’s not going to work in a solution, or what’s going to need either automation, or some customization, or some configuration added to it. I think a lot of other companies approach is: ‘Let’s hurry up and sell the solution and we’ll get in there and we’ll approach and cross that bridge when we get to it.’ And that’s where a lot of implementation fails because there’s not that eyes-wide-open deal at the beginning of the project.
“I think, also, a lot of our competitors have one solution that they’re selling, and sometimes they’re even competing against the vendors, themselves, that make the solution. We have many tools and we have over a hundred third-party companies that we work with that have add-ons to the base solutions that we sell. The other thing that’s really unique about us, that not a lot of our competitors do, is if we don’t have a solution, we will make an introduction to somebody that can help them and that we feel will be a better fit for the company; we won’t get involved in deals where we don’t feel the implementation will be successful. Another statistic that’s really important is our on-time and on-budget. We’re able to pretty much predict how much it’s going to cost in time and effort on both sides of the table, pretty accurately. We don’t have a lot of runaway projects that are going over budget.”
Hanson relates that Blytheco is currently in the process of reworking its entire customer serving team. “We’re reducing the amount of accounts that each one of them owns and making sure that our very high-value clients that need more specialized attention – maybe they’re growing really fast, or they’ve got specialized needs – are with a team that can go out more often and service them, in person,” she explains. “We have found that showing up in our clients’ offices helps us identify issues that maybe they’re not even realizing are there, and then being able to have those conversations with them. Along with that, we’re overlaying an executive sponsor to a good portion of our clients so that they’re getting some sort of leadership, either from one our executive team members or one of our managers, who will come out and visit them at least once a year. So, we’re getting more out into the field than we have in the past. A lot of companies are going in the opposite direction and we have learned that there are things that you see when you’re onsite with a company that you don’t necessarily see when you’re remote, and those things are important.”
Hanson adds that, in addition to adding new products to its portfolio, the ongoing changes within the company, itself, will further inform Blytheco’s future direction toward its many clients. “Client relationship management, marketing automation, and education around how to have a great culture in your organization is a direction where we’re headed,” she states. “So I see us moving and shifting from product focus into more consultative services – how to get the most out of your employees; how to offer a great customer experience. And that’s based off of the experiment that we’ve had, internally, with our own company; the transformation of our culture and organization, and how we have learned a lot of things and adapted tools for ourself so that we can create better customer experiences, better employee experiences, and better interaction with our consumers and prospects.”
Of course, Blytheco will also continue to provide the finest accounting and business system consulting, installation, training, support, and custom programming available from such providers as Netsuite, Acumatica, Salesforce, Act-ON, Infor CRM, and especially Sage, its main business partner since 1980.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Blytheco LLC
WHAT: A full-service consulting and software implementation firm
WHERE: Tampa, Florida
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