Russell Johnson Imports employs virtual staff in over 15 countries, with the imports and consultancy business regularly taking Russell Johnson and his employees to a vast array of countries including Thailand, China, Israel and Brazil. Since living in Argentina, where he started importing seltzer bottles to the US from a Buenos Aires flea market, Russell Johnson knows only too well the value – and challenges – of remote working.
Russell Johnson Imports - Small Business Case Study Video Transcript
My name is Russell Johnson. I've been an entrepreneur and a marketing consultant for the last 17 years. I look for great ideas and then I try to connect them with the public. I travel to countries that were prosperous at the turn of the last century. I look for everyday objects that I know exist in volume, and then I find families, I help set them up in their own business, and they turn around and recycle, and sell back to me. And then I, in turn, sell to stores and bars around the world.
I've been with Vonage for about nine years and it pretty much changed the way I did business. If you don't need to be office based, go mobile. That's the part that people don't realize: they can keep their number and be anywhere in the world. And as long as I work the hours where my company is based, which is in Los Angeles or Wyoming, Vonage enables you to really think globally as a small business.
So when I check into a hotel, the very first thing that I do is, I unpack my Vonage box, I plug into the broadband, I plug my phone right into the box, and I wait about four seconds and my office from Cody, Wyoming, is in London, Phuket, Cairo, anywhere I want to be. It's extraordinary. People want to think you're somewhere, and so it's really important that I am perceived as being consistent as a business and that their caller ID always shows up from my place of business, which is either in LA, or Wyoming, or London currently.
In an online age, I still found the best way to close a deal is through a phone call with a solid connection. So the reason why I chose Vonage over the competition is that none of them provided the quality of sound, which I need to do proper business. But Vonage provides perfect sound quality, always. It's extremely reasonable. When I cancelled my phone bill and went to Vonage, my bill went from $290 a month down to $20 or $30. So you can really just focus on the conversation.
I'd give it a six out of five. It revolutionised the way I can do my work and the way I can live my life. I'm a big fan.
Problem – An international business that needs to appear local
Russell's businesses are global. He works in numerous countries and hires virtual staff all over the world. His problem was a simple one – he needed to make sure that he and his staff could make affordable international calls, from a local caller ID. This way he could ensure his customers could get in touch with them as easily and simply as possible, while maintaining that trust in a local business and make sure they were happy to buy from him. He explains, "If you want business in the US, you need to have a number based there."
Solution – Vonage Premium
"I'm a big fan of Vonage, it revolutionised the way I do business," Russell said. "When I get to a country and I want to work with a vendor, I give them a box. That way we have direct access to each other, and they have a local business number. For instance, one member of staff has worked in Bogota and South Africa – but as long as she's handling customer service during LA hours, I don't mind where she is."
Results – Affordable, reliable communications
"I'd go as far as to give Vonage six stars out of five; it's a no-brainer if you're looking for the best quality of sound out there, versatility and a great price. It's 10 times better than Skype, Google Voice or Magic Jack, not least because the call quality isn't good enough for a business call on anything but Vonage.
"Vonage is made for the small business owner who has an international business, but doesn't have the capital for that global structure. It's genius!"