Professional Profile

When Neil Hostein delved into telecom consulting over a decade ago, he discovered long distance was costing his clients the most money and causing the greatest amount of grief.

But soon that changed. Suddenly local lines became more problematic. Not long after, rapidly changing technology meant more companies began experiencing issues with Internet service and data. And before he knew it, his clients were telling tales of woe about confusing and costly wireless plans.

“The trend in telecommunications is that there is no trend,” explained the Guelph-based Schooley Mitchell consultant. “The problematic areas are constantly changing.”

The continual evolution makes it hard for many businesses to keep up and as a result, many fall victim to billing mistakes or end up paying too much for their services. It seems to be the only real constant in a complicated industry rife with errors.

“Schooley Mitchell offers independence and objectivity, and brings extra buying power, knowledge and clout,” he explains. “We’re keeping the carriers honest in what really is a dishonest business.”

Hostein’s office – which has about a dozen employees – is among the top performing in Schooley Mitchell’s North American network, having saved clients millions of dollars over the years.

The success stories are plentiful, but there are a few clients who stick out in his mind. One was a hospital that had recently gone through an audit process.

Administrators were sure Hostein would be unable to find any savings and were shocked when he came back with recommendations to reduce the hospital’s telecom spend by six figures. An enormous billing error was also uncovered.

“They had just finished an audit a month before we started and had found zero savings,” he says. “Because they were a public organization strapped for money, they were absolutely ecstatic about it. They realized they could not have done it by themselves.”

Another client – one of the Top 5 construction firms in Canada – was juggling 3,000 mobile devices. It was a big job and the company had assigned three staff members to handle the task on an ongoing basis.

Hostein produced $1 million in savings after a thorough analysis. Executives were thrilled and the employees once tasked with managing the wireless accounts were reassigned to more pressing duties.

“We not only saved them $1 million, we saved them the staff time of three full-time individuals,” Hostein says.

But it’s not all about saving money. The cheapest or quickest fix isn’t always best and Hostein often opts for solutions that provide the most reliable service for clients.

“If there are concerns about a technology change, complexity of the implementation or issues with billing structure, it just doesn’t make sense,” he explains. “Always do what is best for the customer.”

He is also pleased with the help he’s able to lend to clients with their merchant services expenses. With more and more credit and debit card processors attempting to attract customers, he is encountering an increasing number of clients drowning in a sea of misinformation and struggling to make sense of it all.

“There’s a lot more players in the game, people who are presenting themselves as viable Tier 1 carriers when they’re not,” he says. “It takes a company like ours to cut through that garbage and get to the ones who do offer real alternatives.”

Outside of work, Hostein enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, along with reading, travelling, gardening and golfing. He supports many charities in his area including the Guelph Children’s Foundation, Heart and Stroke and Big Brothers Big Sisters, and is an active volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society.

If he could offer business owners just one piece of advice, it would be to stick to what you know best.

“If there are consulting organizations available to do the work for you – and do it better than you – then don’t hesitate to hire outside talent,” he says. “Don’t keep it internal. Seeking assistance is the best way to grow your business.”

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