Web wise

Mac Productions was not born from a lengthy business plan or a boardroom brimming with high-tech Web wizards. John Stubbs created the Internet solutions provider and Web-design company in 1999 after working on a project for Case Western Reserve University.

Although he may have stumbled into the enterprise, Stubbs put some high-powered thinking, rather than high-interest loans, into the small business that promises to deliver high-end growth.

The native Clevelander was busy running his computer repair company, Digital Systems Inc., and serving its primary customers, the Medical and Dental Schools of Case Western Reserve University. After maintaining a few of the schools’ Web sites, Stubbs was drawn into Web design by the lure of a generous salary. Confidently, he offered his services.

”Business just snowballed from there,” he says.

Ten employees and two years later, Mac Productions is working with small start-ups such as BroadBased Systems Inc. and Robin’s Next Jazz Club in downtown Cleveland. Larger accounts include the United Auto Worker’s union.

Although growth has not been rapid, it has been steady. Fortunately, the company is not heavily in debt and was able to withstand a fluctuating marketplace that saw the demise of many tech businesses. Aside from a frugal budget, Stubbs believes he has done a few things right to help his company grow.

Keep your costs down

”We utilize the Internet to its fullest potential, whereby we can keep our operating costs as low as possible in comparison to our competition,” says Stubbs.

Mac Productions uses a cost-free, Web-based program for its customer relationship management. Any employee from its virtual office can manage all processes related to the customer, from presale activity to billing.

”It allows everyone to take part in the customer experience,” says Stubbs.

Work virtually

Using Web-based recruiting sites and job fairs, Stubbs hired his virtual employees from across the United States, from Washington to Massachusetts. Administrative functions such as payroll, check acceptance and human resource functions are done online. Even postage is purchased via the Web.

Team up

Strategic alliances were formed with the same providers that keep costs low for Mac Productions, including Stamps.com, OfficeMax.com, TeleCheck, CheckFree.com, PayMyBills.com, Card Ready International and Register.com.

When customers need these services, Mac Production employees do the set-up work, which brings in a commission from partner companies.

Know your customer

Stubbs says he understands his target market.

Many small offices, mid-sized businesses and home offices have hands-on business owners who are hesitant to work through the Web and need face-to-face interaction. Stubbs has lived on both sides of the fence, as small business owner and as an employee of a larger company.

”Especially when you’re dealing with first-time users,” he says. ”they definitely don’t want to let go to a person 1,000 miles away on the other end of the telephone.”

Maximize your reach

By going virtual, Mac has salespeople and developers in targeted areas without the constraints of a centralized office.

”They (the customers) are more likely to be at ease with someone when they can shake their hand and say, ‘Hey, you want a cup of coffee?”’ says Stubbs.

Mac Productions is accessible in more than 4,600 cities, and Stubbs is hoping to hire several hundred additional V-reps in the near future. That provides high hopes as Mac Productions continues to expand.

The difference, Stubbs says, is that Mac can be local or national and still have that face-to-face experience with the customer.

”In the long run, it will make the difference.”

How to reach: Mac Productions, (877) 877-4878

Mac Productions website