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Building her first computer at age 16, Heather Ransome, founder of Full Plate Management Systems has always understood the power of technology. “I was using word processing while the rest of my class was still using white out on their term papers.” Moving up into upper level management in the restaurant industry by age 24, Heather was always one to integrate technology. “If it had a keyboard on it, it was my project or problem. I became the default IT person, because I didn’t even have to crack the manual, I just got it. t’s like a second language to me, and I realized early on that so many people don’t harness technology not because they can’t understand it, but because they don’t have time. I mean, if someone tells you that you need to learn French in 3 weeks in order to run your business better, while of course, running your business, would you be able to do it? Would you even want to? Even if you knew it would ultimately make your life easier, keep you better informed, get you more customers and make you more money? There is an ROI there that so many people can’t get past because the investment is time and focus. Most business owners want easy integration, very little maintenance and rapid results. I know that’s what I look for in my own business.”
After years of being in the restaurant industry, running flag ship stores, opening new sites, making beer for a living during the microbrew revolution in the 90′s, and founding Ransome Group Consulting, she walked into the president’s office at a Point-of-Sale company and told them that they needed to hire her. “I kept getting projects in my consulting business where the client had purchased this particular product. I really enjoyed helping them integrate the system, and found on so many levels that the Point-of-Sale was such a powerful tool that customers were not using correctly ‘out of the box.’ They weren’t asking the right questions, or even being asked the right questions, and I found that 90 percent of the clients were only using about 20% of the features. It made me crazy, but I saw how they simply did not have the time to jump into the product to see what it could do for them. The same with inventory control software. I kept writing my clients these spreadsheet solutions for cost control, while their inventory software that they paid a thousand or more dollars for sat on a shelf. I felt that the people selling this software almost didn’t care if their customers used it or not.” For Heather, her consultant eye helped her take her customer service to the next level. “I wouldn’t wait for someone to tell me they were having a problem and how could I help, I would identify the problem and present a solution. I can’t tell you how many people appreciated that, they understood that I understood. I had been there, I had seen it, and I had a way to fix it.”
“And that’s what Full Plate Management Systems set out to provide. Because of her years of training and help desk, she understood the psychology of it the relationship between people and the technology they are working with. “Being on the other end of the phone with a person who is having problem with their technology requires a very specific skill set, or at least it should. Within a matter of seconds, you need to determine what the person’s problem is by asking a series of questions using simple language. If they answer the questions with certain words or phrases, you can very quickly pinpoint what their level of frustration is, their knowledge of the product, and probable time allotment for this problem are. You can then lead them down the path to a solution very quickly. And a lot of the time, while I am troubleshooting, I am simultaneously calming them down, thinking of all of the possible work-arounds as well as addressing the core solution to get them back on track. Have you ever called into Help Desk and gotten that guy or girl? The one who got you, got it and got it done? The one you wanted to send an ITunes gift card or tickets to their favorite sporting event, if you could just remember their name? That was probably me. Oh, and by the way, I’m an Eagles fan and my name is Heather, that’s spelled H-E-A-T-H-E-R.”
In 2003, Heather finally put her money where her mouth was. She went in as Operating Partner with a family member and bought an existing, turn-key multi-concept location housing a bar, a liquor store and a restaurant in Trenton, NJ. “I wasn’t from that area, but there was so much potential in that building that I couldn’t pass it up. All of my experience working for others, I felt more than prepared for this project.” When unforeseen changes in the neighborhood started making the restaurant part of the business obsolete, Heather had to react quickly. “Seeing the dining room wasn’t working anymore, I decided I had to do some reinventing of ourselves. ” After playing with several different ideas, an opportunity came up out of nowhere. “My bartender, Jenn Ference was telling me how her boyfriend’s band had nowhere to practice in the winter. The garage they usually used was unheated. Looking at completely dead Saturday afternoons, with electricity still running and labor hours I still had to pay, I invited the band to come and practice during the that time and ‘bring their friends’. One thing led to another and I told them to put a show together and they could charge money at the door.” That began in 2005 when Myspace became THE place for musicians and venues and fans to all hook up. Heather and her team started taking advantage of that social media outlet and aggressively continued to build the music venue into what now hosts National acts from all across the world, up to 20 bands per week, and a recent nomination for venue of the year. “I saw the potential right away with Myspace. Word-of-mouth is the most important form of advertising, as we all know, but even more so for the music and bar business. We jumped on it, and it worked…it worked great, and we didn’t have to put out a dime! It was free, fun and way more effective than putting an ad in the local paper.” Now Heather includes this in her “Full Plate” of services and has been one of the most popular. “Clients know that they have to do this and so many people have gotten stuck where they just have some lower level employee do the posting for them and they have no control on what message they are sending. That is a big mistake that I made myself in the early part. You need to have someone that understands everything from the branding, to the cross-marketing to the terms and conditions of these Social Media sites. You can have your whole site shut down if you aren’t taking it seriously or lose your site because you have to fire someone who walks with your passwords. I’ve seen a lot of this.”
For a complete list of services visit www.fullplatesys.com or call Heather at 609-577-3224. Mention this article and get an ITunes Gift Card with purchase of any service or product.