A TierOne Case Study: Homeland Acquisition Corporation
Since 2014, TierOne has been helping clients in the retail sector streamline stores and untangle labyrinthine networks of outdated phone and connectivity solutions across multiple locations.
In 2020, we partnered with Homeland Acquisition Corporation (HAC, Inc.), a grocery chain which encompasses stores such as Homeland, United Supermarket, Cash Saver, and Country Mart. HAC’s footprint covers 3,600 employees in 80 stores across four states, with an additional two stores coming online in 2021.
HAC was facing billing issues across its vast network of stores when Chris Smith, HAC’s Vice President of Information Technology, connected with TierOne. Over the course of several months, TierOne helped HAC untangle opaque billing issues and gradually upgrade phone systems across all stores. Read on for Smith’s behind-the-scenes scoop.
What elements are most important to HAC’s telecommunications environment?
Chris Smith: We operate 80 stores in four states, and we have 24 pharmacies and 12 fuel locations. In our stores, credit card transactions and pharmacies mean we need a really good fiber backbone. On the voice side, a lot of our customer base still uses phones to call our locations, whether it’s about hours, prescriptions, or anything else.
Going into this partnership, what were some of the key issues you wanted to resolve?
CS: Five years ago, I surveyed all the other departments and I asked, “What is your biggest issue, and what can IT do to help?” The No. 1 response from our accounting department — and they have a lot of technology that we support them with — was asking for help with billing for our telecom services because it was never correct.
"We are retailers, so we needed a partner who understands how to work with the big telecommunications companies out there." —Chris Smith, HAC, Inc.
Itemized charges were an issue. We were getting bills in Kansas for stores in Oklahoma. It was very mixed up, and as we would clean them up ourselves over time, they would change again. With so many locations spread across so many geographic locations, we needed help.
We are retailers, so we needed a partner who understands how to work with the big telecommunications companies out there, someone who could help us clean up, consolidate, and understand our bills. That was the first thing we tackled with TierOne.
What drew you to TierOne initially?
CS: We were purchasing a group of stores, and we connected to TierOne through that acquisition. TierOne was able to look back in history and help us set up those stores as cleanly as possible, even with no skin in the game. The relationship was created by us reaching out and TierOne helping us, essentially asking nothing in return.
After the acquisition, we started tackling the billing and taking it one step at a time. We then were focusing on saving money by cleaning up dead lines and changing plans. Now we’re updating our infrastructure to save even more money, which is why we’re starting to switch over to Voice-over-IP schemes. We’re rolling out that plan in all 80 stores and in our corporate locations.
What advantage have you gained by working with TierOne?
CS: TierOne came in and helped us talk to the big telecom companies out there that hide a lot of charges, or make it hard to place charges with stores. TierOne’s inventory audit cleaned that up for us. It helped us understand exactly what was going on with our billing.
How has partnering with TierOne changed the way your IT department works?
CS: Our IT team is 15 people, which sounds like a lot, but in a company of 3,600, it’s really not. We don’t have anybody who works strictly on telecom. Working with TierOne has freed up two of my team members’ time to pursue other things. They’re not stuck tracking down bills or trying to figure out where charges are going. Understanding and simplifying our billing has also made it much easier to budget.
"Find an expert who can help you meet your goals without having to task your entire team with those projects." —Chris Smith, HAC, Inc.
After having worked with a third-party solutions provider, what advice do you have for other organizations considering doing the same?
CS: One of the biggest aspects of being a good manager of IT infrastructure is knowing what to spend your resources on, whether that’s people or actual hardware. You want to find solutions that are quicker, easier, cheaper, and smarter than what you can accomplish with the infrastructure and team you currently have, so pick and choose those wisely. Find an expert who can help you meet your goals without having to task your entire team with those projects, especially when there’s talent out there who can help you quickly.