It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of cold weather, so I’m sure it will surprise many people to know that I love January. No, not because I like to spend as little time as possible outside, and not because I like to drive around in a car that always needs to be washed. It’s because I get to witness the best software team on the planet shine.
I don’t like to brag about our team (that’s a lie, I do it all the time), but if you ever get a chance to visit our office, you too can see a group of people that truly enjoy working hard at answering customers’ questions. When I wander into our support area, the entire team is quietly focused on dealing with the issue at hand, call after call. It’s kind of like watching ducks on a still pond. As they gracefully and effortlessly move across the water, you just know they are paddling like crazy under the surface. To use another duck analogy, our entire team is always flying in formation. A call might originate at the front desk and may not need to go any farther. If others need to be involved, one team member may take the initial lead on a problem, and then pass it on to another for additional research or analysis, and then it may move through the Quality Assurance department, and on to our programming staff as they help take some load off the front-line support team, and so on. Rarely do I hear any of our team members quack. That’s probably because we also have the best customers on the planet.
A few years ago, we set a goal to answer at least 80% of our support calls as they come in, as opposed to having to call a customer back. We review that metric weekly, and for the past few years, it is rare that we attain lower than 89%. This January our call volume was up more than 10% over last year. We were still able to maintain our high standards, and rarely did any customer have to wait a long time on hold.
As you walk into our Red Wing office, you’ll see our vision painted on the wall under the Red Wing Software logo. It reads, “Creating the Best Management Software Experience”. Our entire organization makes every attempt to live up to that vision.
- Ken Hilton, President
As you are likely aware, this is an extremely busy time of year at Red Wing Software. In addition to the normal support calls we receive as our clients finish their year-end transactions and get ready for the New Year with payroll tax table and forms updates, our representatives in Washington, DC threw a couple new items onto our list.
Anticipated legislation was passed that restored the Section 179 expenses to their previous level for the remainder of 2014 (with a few caveats), and then revert back again on the first of 2015. This, of course, caused a last minute change to our CenterPoint Depreciation program that needed to be released before the end of 2014.
Also, 2015 brings in some new requirements for the Affordable Care Act for most of our clients. There is new data that needs to be tracked for 2015, and then reported at the beginning of 2016. Even though this information is not really payroll data, but rather Human Resource information, we decided to add functionality to our CenterPoint Payroll program to capture this information and provide it for the new 1095C and 1094C forms, as well as the employee W-2 form. This functionally will be released in the second quarter of 2015, and will cover the entire year so you can complete the new forms in 2016.
In addition, there are several customers using two of our legacy products (Perception and AgCHEK), and are now migrating to our newer CenterPoint Accounting program as we will stop support of those products on March 31, 2015. As our customers begin using these new-to-them products, we anticipate receiving a few more calls than usual at this time of year.
And finally, we just released a brand new product, Red Wing Tax Forms. This program allows employers and service bureaus that do not already use our accounting and/or payroll products to manually enter year-to-date payroll and other information for easily completing and eFiling many forms including W-2, 941, 943, and several 1099s. You can check our web site or contact a sales consultant for more information on this new offering.
All of us at Red Wing Software hope you had a pleasant holiday season and enjoy a safe and profitable New Year.
- Ken Hilton, President
I hope everyone had a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. I believe there is a reason that Thanksgiving comes after Election Day in the United States. It gives everyone something to be thankful for. If you’re not thankful for the way the election turned out, you can at least be thankful it’s over.
While our elected officials around the country negotiate for solutions to the many issues we face, we should be planning for our own future within our companies. Your budgeting process for 2015 should be well underway if not finished, and final planning for the rest of 2014 has a top priority. There is still some uncertainty about tax extenders for 2014, so it might be a good idea to consult your accounting professional or financial consultant to get their recommendations.
At Red Wing Software, we are working on the expected changes to payroll taxes that take effect at the beginning of the year, knowing full well that they could all change and we will have to make additional last-minute changes to make sure you have the latest and most accurate calculations. Please watch your e-mail for notices from us on any updates that are available for the software products you use so you start the new year with the most current information.
Please have a safe and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, and enjoy a prosperous new year.
- Ken Hilton, President
I recently returned from a conference in St. Louis attended by about 40 consultants and business owners from around the United States. There were several interesting topics on big data, business planning, replicating yourself, and how to move your business to the next generation or management team when you are ready to move to a different life adventure. (I don’t plan to move on any time soon, but the topic was interesting.)
I have been attending the conference and annual meeting of this national, 50-year-old, group for close to 30 years. I have served on several committees and on its board of directors in many positions, including its president. I go to these meetings primarily for three reasons: 1) the networking opportunities it provides, 2) the continuing education I receive, and 3) attending a certain number of meetings is a requirement of maintaining the certification I earned from the group.
The reason I bring this up is to remind everyone about the importance continuing education has on staying on top of your business or career. Many people attend classroom training provided by Red Wing Software to attain some of the knowledge they need to get a better handle on the finances of their operation.
In an effort to provide even more value to attending Red Wing Software educational training sessions, we received certification from NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) that allows us to issues CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credit for attending our software training classes.
What this means for our customers is that they can now not only get valuable information from attending our seminars, but can also get credit toward professional continuing education to satisfy educational requirements of several organizations like the CPA designation. You can find a list of the classroom training sessions schedule for 2015 by going to our web site at this link: Red Wing Software Classroom Training
We feel this is one more item in a long list of important benefits we can offer to our customers.
- Ken Hilton, President
If you’ve read this column for any length of time, you know I like to share experiences I’ve had in customer service. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. And, if you read the column two months ago about word-of-mouth marketing and how I virtually promoted someone’s product, and then read this one, you’ll think I’m being paid to promote other companies. But, I have to, again, share an experience I had recently.
I was in Wichita, KS, last week and my brother took me to a restaurant called the Redrock Canyon Grill. It must be a small chain, as I learned there is one in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa, as well. The building looked like many average priced restaurants, and the menu prices were average, too. But, that’s where average stopped.
The food was excellent, and even if the food had been mediocre, I would go back just for the service. Of course, we had our regular waitress that was assigned to our table when we arrived, but everyone else that worked there seemed to know exactly what was going on at our table. When our food arrived, delivered by someone that we hadn’t seen before, she knew who ordered what and where to set each plate. Another person noticed an empty beverage glass and offered to bring another, then when our regular server passed by a few seconds later, she said “that beverage will be out right away”.
When we started a conversation with the person clearing the plates when we were finished, another person noticed the conversation, took the plates, and finished clearing the table so the first person could continue talking to us. They understood that talking to their clients and making them feel like guests was important to securing repeat business.
I was so impressed with the efficiency in this place I wanted to go back the next night just to see if I could figure out how they do it. Wouldn’t it be nice if the service in every one of our companies was so good that, even if our product was average, people wanted to continue to do business with us just to get great service? Now, put a quality product with that service and you will have people telling all their friends about your business.
- Ken Hilton, President