Build A Better Business

New developments in technology – and better use of the tried and true – will help you take your business to the next level

[the least] maintenance,” says Burroughs. “With our busy schedules, it just made sense.”

Because a full-time class schedule and a growing sneaker business left the entrepreneurs little time to take on and learn the ins and outs of a landline solution (which wouldn’t have been practical for their Web-based firm anyway), Angel.com (www.angel .com) was a perfect fit. Angel.com specializes in voice-enabled technologies and voice mail and call management solutions. Setup and maintenance are easy, and Burroughs and Robinson never have to worry about potential customers mistaking the 3-year-old company for a fly-by-night operation.

For $39.95 per month, Angel.com supplies Krazy Kickz with a toll-free vanity number (866-2LACEUP), a voice-activated voice mail and call transfer system, and the convenience of being able to manage the service from their PCs. Users can record their own voice messages and voice prompts or simply type them in and let a synthesized voice read the text aloud. And voice mail can be forwarded as an e-mail attachment. Robinson says he opted for the synthesized voice on the Virtual Receptionist feature because it gave the company a consistent corporate sound. He and Burroughs can also configure the service so their calls are delivered to different numbers at different times of the day. And, Robinson notes, the Angel.com menus were easy to use.

But ease of use and low cost weren’t the only things that sold the company on Angel.com’s services. Nor did the partners simply Google and go. “Before we chose a company, we looked at our call volume,” says Burroughs. “We receive about 45 calls a day–sales and product questions. With the old system, our phone bill was around $200 a month; now it’s only around $50 a month.” And if recent call and order volume are any indication, the company may have to upgrade to Angel.com’s Enterprise Service soon.

Customers only need to remember the new, toll-free number for Krazy Kickz. Angel.com’s Virtual Receptionist feature can be set up to allow customers to contact staffers by speaking the person’s name. The service is perfect for a company with clients as far away as China, Germany, and Australia. Robinson and Burroughs, who also travel abroad to trade shows in Japan and to Canada for the annual Soled Out sneaker expo, find that being able to manage their service remotely is invaluable.

Robinson says much of Krazy Kickz’s business is international, and that has enabled him to locate and acquire unique shoes that have been released to overseas markets but have yet to make it to the U.S. For example, when Nike’s Dunk Pro SB Paris Edition shoes were released in France, only a thousand pairs were made, and they sold for the equivalent of US$200 to US$300. The going price today–if you can find a pair, says Robinson–is closer to $1,000.

These days, Robinson and Burroughs are as likely to be found searching for new ways to streamline their business as they are scouting out the hottest “kicks.” When Krazy Kickz started getting inquiries from customers about selling their

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