New residential ADSL orders continue to run at above 200% of order volumes of the same period in 2011 as we get into the 'real days' and we received our first corporate data order for the year yesterday which 'beat' the start of new corporate orders in 2011 by three working days. One swallow is not any indication of how the year will eventually play out but it is a nice thing to be happening for the moment - and, of course, much better than the reverse. As I commented previously it is good to know that our automated systems silently process so many revenue producing transactions in the almost total absence of living people in our North Sydney offices.
We re-set our modem/router/antenna hardware prices yesterday because, unusually, our Netcomm account manager was actually at 'work' and we were able to get some minor buy price concessions. Exetel doesn't sell much hardware these days compared to our start up period - partly because there are so many low cost on line 'shops' now but mainly because the overwhelming majority of new Exetel users already have their own modems/routers. Our major reason for still offering hardware is to provide our agents with a reliable and low cost source of supply but that has become problematical as so many, literally operating out of their garage, "on line shops" sell below Exetel's buy prices. We will see what happens over the next few months but we may not continue to offer 'standard' hardware for much longer. At least we ticked it off the list of things to be done at the start of the start of the year.
Part of our software re-development plans have involved our own customer and 'prospective customer' data bases. Obviously we have developed our own customer data base but we have always used a third party software package for contacting prospective new customers. That software in turn uses another third party software package to send faxes to prospective customers and for the ten plus years we have been using that software it has had ongoing problems. Over the past three months we have been re-developing our software to write our own 'CRM' and 'Prospect' data base and fully integrate the records - something we aim to complete 'real soon now'. We will test over this weekend a key part of this redevelopment - the ability to send faxes to a selection of 'prospective' customers using our own high speed fax services at a fraction of the cost of third party software and at 120 times the speed. (this new software is also able to 'wash' the customer fax numbers against the "do not call" list).
Subject to this weekends testing we should be able to send 45,000 faxes in less than six hours without sending to anyone who has put their numbers on the do not call register. The total cost of doing this will be less than $500. This may not sound very impressive and, quite possibly, for larger and better managed companies than Exetel it may not be. But it will be essential for Exetel's future that we are able to sell our small business services to the, alleged 2,000,000 small businesses that operate around Australia which are the 'new' market for ADSL type services and, in their way, represent a much bigger opportunity than residential ADSL services did when Exetel was brought into being. Back in January 2004 we 'created' Exetel by sending 10,000 faxes to the IT managers of large companies in Sydney - and Exetel received, against our modest standards, a huge response - so large we just couldn't deal with it adequately.
So we will try a similar approach again - some eight years later - but this time the target market places are two million rather than ten thousand. It will cost $25,000 to try and contact every small business in Australia (without breaching the 'do not call' register). Would there be any lower cost way of sending what will hopefully be a simple yet compelling 'message' to every company in that market place?