EntertainmentCareers.net CEO Brad Hall’s BlackBerry® solution helps him take back his personal life while continuing to provide excellent customer service.
Brad Hall is a California-based small business owner who connects people in the entertainment industry with their dream jobs. With clients like Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, and Warner Brothers posting their employment opportunities on his site, customer service has to be top priority.
His passion for the business clearly conveys that he’s got his own dream job, but until three years ago he was just a little too tied to it (he hadn’t taken a vacation in over three years). Now with the freedom to check in with his office from the chairlift or the dinner table, he’s able to get his life back, and still keep up with his fast-paced clients.
BlackBerry Connection Newsletter: When did you start using your BlackBerry device and how has it helped you to do business better?
Brad Hall: We’ve been using it for three years. We deal with customer service almost exclusively via email, and whereas we were previously tethered to the office, for two-way communication the BlackBerry [device] was phenomenal.
Initially we tried several options, for example we had a solution to forward email to a pager. But we liked the flexibility that the BlackBerry® [Internet Solution] has, where you can pull from multiple POP3 accounts and filter and forward.
On an average day I receive in the neighborhood of 400 emails, and the ability to selectively have certain customer email forwarded to me—nothing else remotely came close in terms of managing email.
BBCN: Which filters do you find the most helpful?
BH: We use the desktop re-director and I have my Outlook categorize and sort my email before I get to it.
Only certain folders are forwarded to my BlackBerry [device]. I get a lot of cc copies so the ability to not have to filter through again on the BlackBerry [device] is helpful.
If it hits the BlackBerry [inbox] I know that it’s something I need to see in a timely manner.
BBCN: What has been your favorite device so far?
BH: I like the one I have now, the [BlackBerry®] 7130. One of the things I do outside my professional life is work for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with their Team in Training program, I coach their triathlon team and it fits perfectly in my pocket for cycling.
BBCN: What other applications do you use?
BH: Our business is 100 percent web-based, and having the servers up 24 hours a day is very critical. So the company that hosts our web site built a mini-module so I can see it on the BlackBerry [device] screen. I can log in and manage the server straight from my BlackBerry [device]. It gives me the freedom to be able to go on vacation and if something goes wrong it gives me the ability to—and I’ve literally done this on a chairlift—reboot the server and ferret out a server issue.
Other features I enjoy include a Bluetooth® wireless headset I use [and] GPS in the car. I don't have an on-board navigation system in my car [but] the phone can interface with the GPS™ via Bluetooth and I can find out where the heck I am. I have recently been synching contacts and calendar via Bluetooth and it is an excellent timesaver.
BBCN: How does your BlackBerry device help you to serve your clients better?
BH: It allows me to respond to them within five minutes, 24 hours a day. Especially with customers in New York, I don’t want to get up and in the office at six o’clock in the morning, but I can field email in a timely fashion. It gives a small business the impression of 24/7 customer service.
It’s a freedom tool, because it allows me to leave the office, still tethered via the BlackBerry [device], but with peace of mind. Before my BlackBerry [device] I worked three-and-a-half years without a vacation because I could not afford to take time off during the middle of the week.
BBCN: How does it help you to have a life outside work?
BH: I deal with my business all day, every day so for the three years before [my] BlackBerry [solution] I would never go off in mid-day to have any fun whatsoever. Now if I want to go for a bike ride in the middle of the day I can do it with a little bit of peace of mind knowing if something urgent comes up I can deal with it.
When I’m on vacation now it’s cemented to me—unfortunately I’ve lost three or four of them in the ocean—it definitely helps me to have a personal life, take vacations, do volunteer activities, without sacrificing my business.