Most online firms make do with one hosting server, but Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter (HANC) has over two dozen and counting. One site is HANC’S own, but its servers store (or, as is more commonly known, “host”) the Web sites of about 28 clients — sites that HANC set up and designed. HANC has expanded its venerable information technology consulting practice into a new niche creating and storing those sites. Stated Richard A. Hungerford, HANC shareholder in control of computer consulting services, “IT has long been a venue for value-added consulting. Our concept is that the Internet is the way business will be transacted in the century that is 21st. We’re seeking to make internet site creation and keeping a profit center.”
STARTING IT’S OWN SITE…
After months of planning, Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter went live using its own site in April 1996. The firm has a technology committee responsible for the content and design associated with site, but just about everyone at the company is tangled up in some way. The design and design are handsome and easy to make use of: the house page links to descriptions associated with firm’s services, investors and managers; accounting and finance resources; a guest book; and a Tip of the Week, which staff members take turns writing. (a subject that is recent “Lower Capital Gains Rates Under the New Tax Law.”) HANC is practically completely self-contained, along with its servers that are own. That is, the firm itself has computers that store its own Web site and those of its clients; it does not have to contract with an service that is outside do that. Senior Network Analyst Sean Motherway, who acts as Webmaster for HANC, spends several hours a week on general website upkeep for HANCS website. He also helps HANC clients put up their sites.
The site helps in delivery of services in addition to promoting the firm. Tax shareholder John Clark uses the site to send and receive client tax documents. He’s found the site is becoming a place that is popular individuals to post tax questions: “I’d want to create a billable service-answering tax questions on the internet. And there are other opportunities under conversation.”
… LEADS TO STARTING OTHERS’
The firm started its internet storing and design service to provide services that are additional current clients; however, about half its Web site clients are new to the firm. “Because of the expertise we’ve developed in IT consulting, we’re able to market our Web services by themselves,” said Hungerford. Nearly all of its Web site consumers have signed aided by the company since January 1997.
Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter offers a array that is wide of split into two plans:
* The basic plan: 500 kilobytes of server area (enough for a modest-size webpage), an email address, enrollment in over 400 the search engines, a month-to-month report of access hits, a daily backup of this client’s information and a target that is part of the company’s (http:// www.hanc.com/yourcompany).
* The premium plan: exactly like above, but with 10 megabytes of host room (for a very large site), 10 e-mail details (therefore 10 employees, or divisions, can each have an original email address) and an original target (http://www.yourcompany.com).
However, Hungerford stressed that all client gets a site that is tailor-made for its needs and its market. “For each Web that is prospective site, we perform a feasibility study. We study the websites of neighborhood and competitors that are national. We can work with a client’s staff or its marketing that is outside consultant advertising agency.” HANC’s computer staff of 10 are designed for programming that is sophisticated Java, used for high-level enhancements not readily done with HTML; file transfer protocol, to help clients add files that their own customers can download; and guest books, so potential customers can leave information about themselves. HANC can register its clients’ pages not only with big search engines such as Yahoo and Altavista but also with lesser-known industry-specific search engines. The firm has a list of subcontracted designers it can bring in if a client wants a design beyond the skills of HANC’s staff.
Setting up a countertop on an internet site is an instant and procedure that is simple but in addition HANC can provide pages of exclusive data for each client, such as where hits are coming from and the days and the times when the site is most and least active. HANC posts this information on its own site; each customer has a password to look at its own information.
“Our online service has led us into another billable niche: training,” said Sandra Walraven, manager of information systems. Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter can train key people at a client’s workplace to perform easy uploads, for them to change their website from their desks without relating to the company.
HANC’S website provides links to its consumers’ pages, including a furniture manufacturer, auto dealerships, some nonprofits and a golf equipment distributor. This not only encourages HANC’s services but also encourages more hits to its customers. HANC’s website is getting 900 to 1,000 hits a month. All its kept internet sites, together, normal about 1,500 hits each and every day.
PULLING IT TOGETHER
Despite the company’s technological sophistication, Motherway makes use of a few of the programs that are same novice Web designers use: Homesite (shareware), Hotdog Pro and Adobe Photoshop (for illustrations). The first two cost about $100 each; Photoshop is about $450. He also still uses Windows Notepad, a simple text editor that comes free with Windows. The company invested about $20,000 on its host hardware.
HANC’s IT staff trains other people in the firm so they understand the firm’s Web practice and can discuss it with current and potential clients in relation to other firm services. “As in many firms and companies, our skills that are technological homegrown,” stated Hungerford. “The IT staff keeps up with all the literature and now we’re looking at certification on some Microsoft products. But the majority of our online knowledge is self-taught.” Hungerford, Walraven and Motherway have actually continued their technological education after college.
Later on, Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter intends to assist its customers be much more sophisticated on line. Hungerford stated that even though the company’s customers had been happy with the advertising abilities associated with the Web, they would be searching beyond to utilizing the internet to actually provide services. HANC is working on solving security issues to make online stores and e-mail transactions practical. Sooner or later, the firm intends to help consumers put up their own servers. “We see the Internet as a huge consulting area,” stated Hungerford.
Meanwhile the firm is expanding into other areas aswell, including litigation solutions and fraudulence investigations. Numerous conventional businesses — HANC ended up being started in 1941 — found myself in IT consulting as a sideline to services that are traditional. But as traditional and services that are new at HANC, the firm discovers it self doing a 180″ turn. Stated Walraven, “We now aspire to seu more traditional accounting services to our brand new website chients.”