Today’s blog features a guest post from Andrew Gotshal, one of the original founders of Memofix. – David Foster
Occasionally, when meeting with manufacturer partners or corporate executives, I’m asked what makes Memofix different in the marketplace. What sets us apart from other technical services organizations? What unique advantage or value do we provide to customers?
It’s easy for us to list all the important stuff that OEMs and customers want to hear. With over 25 years of experience we have a proven track record. The majority of our business comes from returning clients and word of mouth referrals, demonstrating our commitment to customer satisfaction and quality. We regularly pass performance tests and service level agreement metrics with our manufacturers; which means we deliver on our depot warranty commitments. Our technical expertise allows us to tackle tough problems and provide complete solutions. But most competitors who are focused on customer responsiveness and quality can provide those same attributes. So why are we different?
Our company is a family of individuals from different backgrounds and unified by one important characteristic – we’re Geeks. Capital “G” Geeks who want to understand the technology that we are working on, to figure out why a problem is occurring, how do we fix it and can we make recommendations to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Customers who throw us unique challenges tell us that they like our thought process. Instead of jumping to a conclusion we start running through the various scenarios that could result in the reported problem. Then we start our testing process to eliminate one or the other and focus on the root cause. Think of us as the child who takes apart the family computer so we can figure out how it works. Except when we put it back together again, we’ve made a few improvements and it runs a lot better.
Memofix loves storage technology, it runs in our blood. That’s not to say we are singularly focused – we are after all one of the largest national providers of depot services for a leading notebook OEM. But in the same way that you have a fondness for that first person you dated seriously, we look back on our start as the repair centre for the first Seagate drives that entered the Canadian market. This has led to our investment in specialized equipment to analyze and recertify hard drives. Because we have some of the brightest technicians in Canada we are one of a select group in North America that can repair hard disks and complex tape backup technology. Our membership in the Technical Services Consortium (www.tsc-ww.com) gives us global access to service expertise, parts and process improvement. After almost 30 years in this industry we continue to look for ways to improve our capabilities and provide more value to our business partners and customers.
We have tackled some unique challenges for our customers and the ones that we are proudest of generally were not the most profitable but they appealed to our Geek side. Here are some examples:
- A clinic in Haiti relied on their 20 year old X-Ray machine to provide badly needed medical care. When the hard disk started to malfunction they searched extensively for a solution because replacement was not an option. We were able to supply the parts needed from our spares (largest spare parts inventory in Canada), recover the data and earn a big thank-you from the medical staff.
- Customers regularly come to us with specialized production equipment that is decades old, with a similarly aged hard disk as an important component. In almost every case we have the parts and the technical expertise to keep this equipment running, including a 3.2MB hard disk that we provided to a data recovery customer just last week.
- Where a replacement drive is not available for an older system, we have been successful in using newer drives and reducing the capacity so that it will be accepted by the legacy operating system or application (known as destroking). In some cases our technicians will also need to reconfigure the firmware on the drive, an important skill for us and rarely found outside OEM organizations.
- During the recent hard disk shortage, caused by flooding in the Philippines, several OEMs approached us to leverage our expertise in firmware re-configuration, in an effort to use alternative drives for computers that had been designed for specific models and brands of hard drives.
- We have been able to provide feedback to our OEM partners on their testing process, helping them to understand that perfectly good drives were failing due to their audit software. The result for our manufacturer partner was a higher yield and lower replacement costs.
- Several retail chains rely on us to wipe personal data from storage devices returned by their customers. Wiping Xbox hard drives and flash drives presents a unique challenge because the operating system is embedded with the consumer data. Our technicians were able to create an algorithm which would detect where the OS is located on the HDD or flash drive. This meant wiping all data up to the OS, recognize where the OS is and leave it intact, and start removing consumer data immediately after.
Another important element of our uniqueness is attitude. We are never more important than the customer’s we serve. We customize programs to accommodate the customer’s process branding, financial models, and security. Manufacturers come to Memofix in order to reduce their costs and we approach each new project with that objective in mind, including pricing our services based on the OEM realizing those financial savings. We are willing to share the risk and create a partnership versus simply being a supplier.
The challenge of being unique comes from constant re-evaluation of what’s important for your partners and clients, and how we adapt to meet those changing needs. To be relevant to the marketplace you have to stay focused on the customer and not your competitors. You have to resist the urge to concentrate on revenue and expense reduction, and instead invest in skills, people, technology and process in order to be successful through long-term relationships. We try to meet that challenge every day and so far our customers are telling us that we’re doing OK.