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Miles Technologies changed its billing practices to improve relations with clients

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Changing its billing practices has forced Miles Technologies to do the job right the first time, says CEO Chris Miles. He stands in his company's Moorestown office.
Changing its billing practices has forced Miles Technologies to do the job right the first time, says CEO Chris Miles. He stands in his company's Moorestown office. - (AARON HOUSTON)

CEO Chris Miles and executives at Miles Technologies decided in early 2008 the company was spending too much time answering billing complaints.

Though the business technology consulting company always stood by its accuracy, Miles said the old system of billing by the hour and charging customers after work was done frequently invited objections. The whole process drained energy on both sides.

"Customers did not like it," he said. "They never know where it was going to go. The bills were a surprise to them."

So Miles Technologies stopped billing by the hour and switched to fixed-project pricing, where prices are predetermined and factored into service contracts of varying terms both sides agree to in advance.

"We don't bill by the hour; we bill by the project," Miles said. "If it takes longer, it's on us. Now, there's a never a time where a customer gets an invoice where they didn't approve the exact dollar amount before the work started."

Miles said the change provides added incentive for the Moorestown company to do a better job first time around, so as to avoid repeated attention to recurring problems.

Looking back, Miles is convinced the changes were far-sighted moves, though first the company had to weather bumpy waters during the transition. The adjustment was made worse by the economic collapse of late 2008. Phones essentially stopped ringing in the latter half of the year because of economic uncertainty, Miles said.

Things look brighter now. Miles Technologies revenue, which dipped to about $9 million during the bottom of the recession in 2009, exceeded $12.3 million last year. Miles projects hitting $15 million in revenue in 2013, which would mark an all-time high.

Miles said the company has about 1,000 clients across various industries. Professional organizations that rely heavily on computers, like engineering, accounting and law firms, make up most of the clientele. Health care clients represent a growing source of customers, he said.

The size of business vary served by Miles Technologies vary, but the CEO said its ideal customers are those with revenue ranging from $5 million to $50 million — companies that generally are big enough to need regular IT attention, but not large enough to fix problems in house.

Employment is growing. The company employs 116, up from about 102 in January and about 85 in early 2012. Miles said the company expects to add at least another seven jobs this year; given the better vibe at Miles Technologies these days, the CEO is confident he can fill those positions.

"It's just a happier place to work," Miles said. "It's awesome. You don't have the stress of customers calling up and complaining about bills."

 

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