Small(yet large) business, wanting to switch to Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by ThePope43, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. ThePope43 macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Hey guys, before anyone goes all "use the search function" on me, let it be known that I just spent the last 2 hours and 43 minutes googling and mroogling as much related information as possible.

    My dad is EXTREMELY technologically-declined, but he is the owner of his business which is a small home-town business, but he brings in very large numbers. He's an extremely busy man, and these damned PC's are slowing him down greatly. Let me tell you a bit about his business, because it's not of the usual norm, and you tell me what you think or throw out any ideas you might have.

    here is his site, which I'm pushing to have re-done too a bit more professionally:

    As you can see, he sells farm equipment/heavy duty trucks/tractors/trailors/lawn equipment and he also services everything that he sells(and things that he doesn't sell). He has always kept an absolutely AMZAZING customer rating. He has buyers come to our town from Texas/California/Washington all the time, it's normal to us for someone to drive that far to buy, say, a dump truck.

    He always keeps a large inventory of equipment, MANY MANY grain carts, tractors, lawn mowers, and especially parts(their parts room is sooo pathetic right now because lack of computer help).

    Like I said, he's very technologically-declined and I'm not saying PC is the worst thing in the world, but there's too much jargon in PC that he doesn't need. The biggest thing is PC's get way too slow way too fast. He's a man that needs to go go go all the time and he can't wait 15minutes for his email and internet browser to open up.

    Even though he's the owner he's always out and about on the move, and I think I could really see it beneficial for him to try, say, an iPad for instance to show customers his inventory on an easy handheld device with a screen larger than 3.5" ipod touch. I've ordered an iPad for myself so we can always test that one before going anywhere.

    If you read all of that...

    He has 2 salesmen that handle all of the big sales: himself, and another

    He has 1 parts manager that handles people coming in and ordering parts, he handles shipping/receiving, and he handles the parts room.

    He has 1 project manager that handles larger delivery/receiving of bigger equipment, and he also handles repair work slips.

    He also has a secratary who is pretty much the brains of the operation when it comes to needing information and such so don't shortchange her on anything worth while or nice.

    They also print a lot too, such as directions and I know they have some type of server at their business, I'm just not sure what it is and what it's for.

    Let me know, if you dared to read through.
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Are his emplyees familiar with Mac? Has he ever used one? You should ask their opinion and ask what software do they use etc because some may be Windows only. Show them your Mac as well (I assume you have one)

    3G iPad for him and the other salesman sounds good because they could easily and with style show their products.

    I'm not a server specialist but if they need a new server as well if they go Mac, Mac Mini Server will probs be enough for them.

    As they already have displays, I think, Mac Minis would be good along with couple MacBook if portability is needed.
  3. ThePope43 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    I do not have a mac, at least not yet. I have a 26" beefed up HP Touchsmart but I think I'm going to try to trade it off for an iMac to someone who maybe wants to switch to pc.

    Also, no they haven't used macs but like, I cannot explain to you just how old their computers are. They all have 4:3 15" screens, slow pc's with about a 2.X single core processor with 256 or 512 ram, balled's ugly. I'm going to explain to him we can start fresh with macs, and after him having a really rough spell these last 5-6 months, everyone can kinda get excited for this busy spring/summer ahead of them with some new equipment.

    There is no AT&T 3G here, but if things would work out well, he could get done what he would need to do using the EDGE network.

    If things workout how I think they should, I would see him and his other salesman, as well as the parts manager, project manager, and secratary all with iMac's rather than having to have towers and such.

    Are there any companies that anyone can refer me to that make good business accessories for Mac's like barcode scanners, inventory systems, etc?
  4. ThePope43 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
  5. spinne1 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2005
    Hermitage, TN USA (near Nashville)
  6. ThePope43 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Do you think in this case it would be beneficial if a Mac representative company came out and did all the updating and walked the employees through switching to the mac?
  7. splitpea macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2009
    Among the starlings
    Do they already have inventory / sales / financial software, and will it run on Mac without virtualization?
  8. ThePope43 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    They do have that software, and if it doesn't I'd have him switch his inventory system over completely.

    I would be doing that myself so there wouldn't be a problem there. Actually, rather, I would be working along side the inventory/parts/shipping manager to help make sure things go smoothly
  9. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    That's what I'd do, whether switching from one platform to another or just updating to a more modern/full-featured Windows-based one.

    Basically this is one of those situations where you're going to save yourself time, hassle, and probably money by having an expert do as much of the background work as possible, either a consultant (I've done that kind of work before for a similar-sized business in terms of employees, so I know a little) or a company that specializes in business systems. The HARD part is finding someone competent; I'd suggest asking similar-sized businesses in the local area who they've used and if they liked them. I've crossed paths indirectly with people/companies who were truly incompetent, and some who are great, and it's not always obvious which is which.

    If the business is big enough it could even be worth hiring a part/full-time IT person. That has the advantages of fixed cost--you just put them on the build/switchover for as long as it takes--and having somebody around to keep things going smoothly. The disadvantage, of course, is also cost, and (as a non-computer-savvy person) finding someone who's a good fit and knows what they're doing.

    If you're going it alone, there are software packages designed for inventory management/sales tracking, and ones designed for customer management, but the depth of either sort on the Mac is somewhat disappointing, or was the last time I looked. Not saying that there aren't options, just that there aren't a LOT of options (though a custom-built FileMaker or Panorama database is, in some cases, the best option anyway, and that will work just fine in a Mac-centric environment). That's one of the reasons an expert might be the way to go--they'll either know what's available or be able to build something. There are also web-based systems that could work very well for someone who's moving around a lot.

    Something to consider: While I tend to recommend Macs, with (I believe) good reason, there's no need to go 100% one way or the other. You could, for example, have an inventory system that runs on Windows, but have the office computers be Macs, and use an iPad for on-the-road info/demonstrations (that's a very good idea you had, by the way). Or something like a Linux-based server with iPads or other tablets to access the data from around the worksite or on the road through a web frontend.

    An aside, as a part-time web dev, that website brings a tear to my eye, in the bad way. I'm sure it gets the job done, but it's always sad for me to see good companies with miserable websites (in this case vintage-1998, and not even good by 1998 standards).
  10. ThePope43 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Very amazingly detailed post Makosuke! You gave me a lot of insight on what I can do. I would love to be the IT person for my dad, but although I know that I myself know a lot about computers, I don't hone the necessary KEY skills that an IT person should have since I did not go to school for it. Yes, cost is going to be a big key in this part and he will expect his employees to play the IT person collectively I'm sure. I am going to go to Apples site and look for some local consultants first off, and see if any offer free quoting to start off.
  11. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    If you've never used a mac, I don't see how you could suggest moving an entire business to macs. However...

    The issue with using macs in a mixed OS X/windows environment is that they never work right. Even 10.6 and Windows 7, the two newest OS's from each respective company, will have a hard time networking. So unless you want to teach the employees about IP addresses, just don't do it, it's a bad idea. If you need further assurance, I spent something like an hour talking to a level 2 tech support agent who also gave up getting OS X and Windows to "just work"

    So lets say you go with pure Windows. You'll need a virus scanner, but that's about it.

    If you go with Apple, you'll need a virus scanner as well as complete re-training for all employees, and possibly new inventory management programs.

    From a cost/benefit point of view, I just don't see the rationale. Switching over to a mac will cost at least $600 per user (probably closer to $1200 if you get iMac's), plus training, where as keeping PC's will cost $300, maybe? (update:$429)

    You also mention that the PC's are old (circa Pentium III or early P4?), and don't have a lot of RAM. Why not just upgrade the RAM? That's an instant speed boost, and if the rest of the computer system is working well, why even bother buying new computers?

    iPads, iPods, they're good ideas. However, I wouldn't suggest using them. Here's why: As of now, and in the near future, all they would do would be to show off still images. You can accomplish the same exact thing using a 3-ring binder and some nice printing from Kinkos.

    If you got into newer media, video of your stuff, or online ordering, then using an iPad might be worth it as an ad mechanism. You could use the iPad to display online ordering, videos and images. However, that would require either a) an iPod/iPad app that you don't have, or a website (which you also don't have). Furthermore, if you did update your website, would an iPad be more useful than a good looking laptop, for anything besides the "wow" factor of using a tablet?

    It sounds like you've got the Apple bug, and no offense, but that's the worst bug to have when dealing with a business which cares most about their bottom line. Apple's business support is incredibly lacking; they don't offer next-business day on site support so if anything does happen, not only can you not repair the PC yourself, but you need to send it in, a process which can take around a week.

    tl;dr: For a business that's most concerned with the bottom line why not upgrade your PC's? Compare: Dell @ $429v Apple @ $1,199, plus re-training on OS X, and from a business standpoint I don't see the appeal. However, if your business gets into new media, that's video & web 2.0, the iPad might be better than a laptop, possibly.
  12. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'm not denying that this was your experience, but I play IT for a network of about a couple of dozen computers spread out among XP, Win7, 10.5, 10.6, and even a couple of 10.4 boxes, plus a 10.5 server running on 5-year-old hardware and a couple of networked printers, and I haven't had any cross-platform problems at all in the last several years. Well, except for XP periodically forgetting how to print, but I see that happen on standalone systems, too.

    Again, this doesn't mean that your experience will be the same, but it's an exaggeration to say that it will never work right when in many cases it does. I also note that I easily spend four or five times the time-per-box keeping the Windows machines running than the OSX ones; this would go down if we had a system big enough to institute larger-scale IT rollouts, but for a handful of machines at a small business it can get very time consuming.

    That's likely true, but it's going to be equally true if they switch to a newer/more functional pure-Windows inventory management system. And in fact, if they're going to be getting modern computers with Win7, I find that for users the learning curve is bigger between 2000/XP and Win7 than XP to a Mac. Might not always be true, but it's not a seamless transition to "what you know", and I sort of figure if you're going to be putting people through the pain of that kind of change you might as well go Mac if you have an inclination to do so.

    Now this, this is true--just upgrading what they've got might be a big boost in productivity if it's old enough. That said, from the sound of it what they've got is not working well, and that's part of of the problem.

    Half-true, although if they have a frequently-changing inventory it can be a lot less hassle to get emailed the new images and just pop them up on the iPad you're using as a replacement for the on-the-road laptop you'd have been carrying anyway than trying to find a color printer at the hotel/Kinkos, and if it's a large enough inventory the iPad could be a lot lighter.

    I got the feeling the OP was imagining something a little more integrated, though, in which case it would be even more beneficial.

    None of this is to say that I think it's a 100% given that you should go all/part Mac--I recommend what works best, regardless of who makes it or what I use at home--but it's not as clear-cut a cost/transition-advantage for Windows in many cases.
  13. ThePope43 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Well, I can say I genuinely know my dad, and he's a yes or no guy. Simply put. Not wishy washy...unless it's a yes. Then from there's it's "I need to know more.."

    I showed him all that you all have posted, what I have posted about his business, and I showed him links to things that I was given(I also showed him the Cube advertisement on the homepage here where you can swipe any credit card with your iPhone) and he was interested. He liked the time machine, and he liked the overall look of mac and he liked how I explained their performance compared to his VERY slow, and old, PC.

    Any information you guys can throw out, the better it will be. Even your debating/discussion he is very interested in.

    @Makosuke, I would like to hear more from you regarding the website. Where would be a good place to outsource to make the website, a small local town with a population with 7,000 people, you're not going to find much here. Also, how is iLife in regards to website making?

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