By REBECA KUROPATWA Dealing with telecom service providers can be time consuming and costly, whether that be for personal landlines or cell phones, let alone for small-to-medium-sized businesses or organizations.
Hernan Popper has brought a new solution to Winnipeg, with no cost to implement, wherein you can have an expert go over your bills and contracts, also provide you with saving opportunities. The consultant gets paid via a share of the savings.
Popper is a telecom expert who decided to venture out on his own after having moved to Winnipeg with his family from Argentina in 2003.
“I moved here with the help of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, along with a number of other families from Argentina at that time,” said Popper. “I’ve been in the telecom industry for 25 years. In Argentina, I had my own telecom start up for a decade before moving to Canada.”
In Winnipeg, Popper has held progressive marketing positions, including seven years with Manitoba Telecom Services and nearly three years as Director of Innovation at the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. After a short year-and-a-half stint as a Marketing and IT consultant in the not-for-profit sector, including the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Popper decided to go back to his passion – telecom.
Popper started up his own business within the support system of Schooley Mitchell.
“Schooley Mitchell is a network of independent telecom consultants based in Stratford, Ontario, providing telecom and credit card optimization services,” said Popper.
“After identifying the need for these services in Manitoba, I bought the franchise to develop their business here.”
Although Popper already possessed expertise and connections in the industry, he decided to join Schooley Mitchell to further his bargaining power. Schooley Mitchell has 16,000 clients and over 250 consultants across North America.
“The easiest way to explain who we are is to explain who we are not,” said Popper. “Schooley Mitchell is not a vendor, nor a provider of telecom or merchant services. We are not brokers nor do we resell any services.
“Schooley Mitchell is a large network of independent consultants working on behalf of our clients to ensure they receive the best services at the best possible price for their telecom and merchant services (credit cards).”
Popper described the process as having two stages. “First, we go through our clients’ bills and contracts for services, including local lines, long distance, internet, wireless phones, teleconference, and credit card fees.”
Next, Popper and his team look at their clients’ needs, ensuring their requirements are met with the appropriate service.
What Popper often sees is that clients have unnecessary services that can be cancelled to save money or be enhanced with current technology. “In many cases, we find errors and we can recoup money from the vendors,” said Popper. “In almost every case, we identify savings of up to 40 percent.”
Popper goes through every line of his clients’ bills and contracts. Then, he presents his clients with their current status in an easily readable format – a complete, detailed report.
“Then, we’ll provide you with the different options available in the marketplace, including those from your current vendor,” said Popper. “For example, if you have services with MTS, we’ll negotiate with them to get their most competitive rates. We’ll also approach other providers – maybe Bell, Rogers, or Shaw – and invite them to compete for your business. We’ll do the same for merchant services such as Moneris, Global Payments, or First Data.
“We don’t make any decisions,” said Popper. “We present our findings and our recommendations. If the client decides to proceed, we’ll implement the desired changes. We go through the complete process of migrating from Vendor A to Vendor B or defining the new agreements with the current vendor. We manage all the projects until implementation is finalized.”
Once complete, Popper provides a post audit report every three months. These reports continue for a period of three years, demonstrating that the bills his clients receive are exactly what he had negotiated for them – ensuring no unexpected charges appear. He becomes the telecom expert on staff, on call, and the single point-of-contact for all telecom-related needs (all of which is self-funded by the savings).
Popper does all the analysis, auditing, and negotiating at his own cost and risk. And, only if a client decides to implement any of his recommendations, does he get a share of the savings.
“It’s 100 percent contingency-based,” said Popper. “We don’t charge anything up front. If the client decides not to implement the recommendation, we don’t charge them anything.
“There can be cases where we spend 20-25 hours doing analysis for a client and, in the end, there’s nothing that can be optimized. In that case, we don’t charge anything for our work. The client gets the certainty that an independent, third party expert went through all their telecommunications structure, bills, and contracts, and that they’re fully optimized.
“Our niche market is business with anywhere from six-to-250 employees. If a client spends less than $500 a month, we’re unlikely to recoup our expenses. On the other end of the spectrum, companies that have more than 250 employees often have their own people that do the optimization.”
Popper only opened his business in June of this year and it has already grown significantly, mostly via word of mouth. “Everybody knows somebody who could use a couple of hundred dollars extra per month coming off their telecom bills,” he said. “And, I’m more than happy to find those savings for them.”
For more information, visit www.schooleymitchell.com/hpopper.