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 practice that is consulting a new niche creating and saving those sites. Stated Richard A. Hungerford, HANC shareholder in control of computer services that are consulting “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 site creation and keeping a revenue center.”
STARTING IT’S OWN SITE…
After months of preparation, Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter went real time having its own site in April 1996. The firm has a technology committee responsible for the content and design of this website, but almost everyone during the company is involved in a way. The design and design are handsome and simple to use: The home page links to descriptions regarding the company’s services, investors and supervisors; accounting and finance resources; a guest guide; and a Tip of the which staff members take turns writing week. (a subject that is recent “Lower Capital Gains Rates beneath 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 outside service to do that. Senior Network Analyst Sean Motherway, who will act as Webmaster for HANC, spends hours that are several week on basic website maintenance for HANCS site. He additionally assists HANC clients arranged their internet sites.
In addition to promoting the firm, the site helps in delivery of services. Tax shareholder John Clark uses the site to send and receive client tax documents. He’s found the site is becoming a popular place for people to publish tax questions: “I’d prefer to put up a billable service-answering tax questions over the Internet. And there are various other opportunities under conversation.”
… GUIDES TO ESTABLISHING OTHERS’
The company started its online storing and design service to supply additional services to current clients; however, about half its Web site clients are new to the firm. “Because of the expertise we’ve developed by themselves,” said Hungerford in IT consulting, we’re able to market our Web services. Most of its webpage customers have signed utilizing the company since 1997 january.
Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter provides a wide array of services split into two plans:
* The basic plan: 500 kilobytes of server room (sufficient for a modest-size website), an email address, enrollment in over 400 the search engines, a monthly report of access hits, a daily backup associated with the client’s data and an address that’s an element of the firm’s (http:// www.hanc.com/yourcompany).
* The premium plan: just like above, but with 10 megabytes of host space (for a very large site), 10 e-mail addresses (therefore 10 workers, or departments, can each have a unique e-mail address) and an original address (http://www.yourcompany.com).
Nonetheless, Hungerford stressed that every client gets a tailor-made site suitable for its needs and its market. “For each prospective Web site client, we perform a feasibility research. We study the websites of neighborhood and competitors that are national. We can work with a client’s staff or its outside marketing consultant and marketing agency.” HANC’s computer staff of 10 can handle sophisticated programming: 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. If a client wants a design beyond the skills of HANC’s staff, the firm has a list of subcontracted designers it can bring in.
Setting up a countertop on a Web site is a fast and simple procedure, 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 site that is own client has a password to see a unique information.
“Our Web solution has led us into another niche that is billable training,” said Sandra Walraven, manager of information systems. Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter can train key people at a client’s office to perform easy uploads, for them to alter their website from their desks without concerning the firm.
HANC’S site provides links to its clients’ pages, such as a furniture maker, auto dealerships, some nonprofits and a golf equipment distributor. This not merely promotes HANC’s services but in addition encourages more hits to its customers. HANC’s web page gets 900 to 1,000 hits 30 days. All its stored internet sites, together, normal about 1,500 hits each and every day.
PULLING IT TOGETHER
Inspite of the company’s technological sophistication, Motherway makes use of some of the same programs even 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 text that is simple that comes free with Windows. The company invested about $20,000 on its server hardware.
HANC’s IT staff trains others in the company 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 literary works and we’re looking into official certification on some Microsoft items. But most of our Internet knowledge is self-taught.” Hungerford, Walraven and Motherway have proceeded their technological education after college.
In the future, Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter intends to help its clients be much more advanced on the net. Hungerford stated that although the company’s customers had been pleased with the marketing abilities regarding the online, they might be looking beyond to using the online to actually provide services. HANC is working on solving security issues to make stores that are online e-mail transactions workable. Fundamentally, the company intends to assist clients setup their own servers. “We see the Internet as a huge consulting area,” said Hungerford.
Meanwhile the company is expanding into other areas as well, including litigation solutions and fraud investigations. Numerous conventional organizations — HANC had been founded in 1941 — got into IT consulting as a sideline to traditional services. But as traditional and services that are new at HANC, the company finds it self doing a 180″ turn. Stated Walraven, “We now hope to seu more accounting that is traditional to your new Web site chients.”