Nolans Office & Promotional Products in San Antonio, Texas, is a dealership in transition. In recent years, owners Mark and Sandra Nolan have essentially re-invented their company, putting a much greater emphasis on state and local government business and rebalancing the product mix to focus more on office furniture, promotional products and jan-san.
At the same time, they’ve adopted a “run lean, run mean approach to the business. While the company has been growing nicely over the past three years, they’ve reduced headcount from 30 to 24 and are moving away from the traditional “feet on the street” sales model to one built around inside telesales and a strong web presence.
Even though much has changed at the dealership the Nolans started some 15 years ago, some things remain very much the same. Nolans was one of the very first dealerships to bring in the Red Cheetah e-commerce and ordering solution back in 2003. Nolans moved to Red Falcon® software when Red Cheetah was upgraded. Mark says the benefits the system provides are just as valuable to the dealership today as they were in the beginning.
The move to Red Cheetah software was a decision for the long-term
“Moving to Red Cheetah just three years after we started was one of the best decisions we made for the long-term future of our dealership,” Mark says. “Because it is a web-based system, it meant we could focus so much more of our time and energy on managing our dealership and growing sales instead of spending long hours on quarterly file loads, backups and server maintenance. Using Red Cheetah also meant we didn’t need a dedicated IT staff to keep things running smoothly and could take that expense and redirect it towards growing the business.”
The system’s interface with the QuickBooks® accounting system was also a big plus, Mark adds. “QuickBooks is a standard accounting package and it’s easy to find people who are already familiar with it when you’re hiring,” he explains. “The whole system is very user-friendly and lets us focus on what’s truly important for our business.”
Mark also gives kudos to the Red Cheetah, now Red Falcon, team for outstanding customer service and technical support. “Like many independents, we put a lot of emphasis on superior service and strong customer relationships and the folks at Red Falcon have a similar culture,” he points out. “They really understand our needs and priorities, they’re always very accessible and the system comes with a series of excellent online training videos that we find gets new users up to speed very quickly.”
And, says Mark, while the system is very simple and intuitive to operate, it’s also robust enough to support strong growth and increasing complexity.
Nolans’ government business operates as part of AHI Enterprises, an umbrella organization for five Texas independents, including Nolans, that serve public sector agencies throughout the state. Red Falcon, he says, is well positioned to support that side of the house, too.
Office products software should let you run your business easily
These are exciting times for Mark Nolan and his team. After close to 35 years in the office products business, he’s seen far too much to underestimate the competition or downplay the challenges involved in running a successful independent dealership today.
But he’s also learned what he needs to do to be able to take those challenges and convert them into new opportunities. And, he makes clear, the technology he has used in the business for the past 10-plus years has played a key role in that process.
“Software shouldn’t be rocket science,” he contends. “It should allow us to get what we need from the system easily and quickly and then move on. That’s what Red Cheetah—and now Red Falcon—has been doing for Nolans for years and I’ve no doubt it will continue that way for many more years to come!”