Digital Overhaul

Applying a technology makeover will open your business to more customers

It’s 3 a.m. in Houston. While the rest of the city sleeps, it’s crunch time for Randy Diggs. The founder and CEO of Mo Better Meat Co. Inc. and his early morning crew are hard at work putting together meat packages for thousands of customers.

The crew must pack and repack the meat in boxes to get them ready for shipping. The trucks have to be loaded by 6 a.m. As the deadline looms, the pace quickens. At 9 a.m., the drivers arrive. “From there, it’s a madhouse for two hours, because we are trying to get out 52 trucks without any problems,” says Diggs. Fortunately for his customers, Diggs has found a way to streamline the process–with a little help from technology, of course.

In competitive markets, small firms are looking for new ways to become more efficient and increase profits. As technology is becoming less expensive and more widely integrated, the opportunities for small businesses are enormous. Many companies are finding that they no longer need to look and sound, well, small. Technology is providing them with a relatively inexpensive means of communicating with customers, improving efficiency and improving their bottom line. Better yet, small businesses have discovered what really sells customers on their products and services–simplicity. From streamlined order processing to easy-to-use Web tools, more and more African American businesses are heeding technology’s call. BLACK ENTERPRISE tracked down two small businesses that underwent a technology makeover to help expand their customer base and sail smoothly over the choppy waters of commerce.

All the Right Moves
Mo Better Meat (www.mobettermeats.com), launched in 1991, delivers precooked meats and other preprepared food items to clients throughout Texas, primarily in the Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio areas. The company must deliver the mostly perishable items on time or risk losing customers. Mo Better Meat, which posted revenues of $9 million in 2004, recently started online order processing, and with Diggs’s increasingly busy schedule, the company needed a way to streamline communications between the warehouse, trucks, and its 100,000 customers.

The right technology can take your business from everyday to extraordinary. With 130 employees, 52 trucks, and a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, Diggs found that the old paper-and-spreadsheet method he had been using could no longer efficiently handle the day-to-day operations of his growing company. With thousands of customer orders to receive, process, track, and deliver, and his company’s addition of online shopping, Diggs needed tools that would allow him to run his business from anywhere. So he turned to NetSuite (www.netsuite.com), a provider of Web-based business applications for small and midsize businesses.

NetSuite’s software handles everything from sales and contact management to file sharing, order processing, accounting, inventory, product shipment, employee records, and e-commerce activities. The integrated system allows companies to manage operations through an Internet connection or browser from the office as well as from remote locations. Users interact with a real-time dashboard–a customized view that provides accurate and current company information.

Diggs says he turned to NetSuite because he had tried other applications without success. “We had

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