Prion: silence was not terminal

Prion: silence was not terminal

Sometimes you can't help bad luck.

Take Prion for instance. The company is expected to post earnings of $100 million for its financial year, a 38 per cent increase on last year - certainly a healthy result.

But only a fortnight ago rumours circulated that the company was no longer in business. Its 1800 number wouldn't answer, and it didn't take long for speculation to mount.

According to national marketing manager Andrew McLean, the whole incident was an indirect result of Prion's success, and is absolutely no cause for alarm.

"We were just getting inundated with phone calls, and we were finding it very hard to maintain our service levels to our resellers," said McLean. "We looked pretty hard at our business to see where a lot of the transactions were coming from, and a lot were actually for very low-end products. But they all seemed to take about the same amount of phone time, and they take the same amount of transaction processing as well."

The question arose as to what was the most profitable way of dealing with such small orders. The solution was to appoint sub-distributors in all states, and alert resellers both through direct contact and through a recorded message on its 1800 number.

"The problem was, we turned off our 1800 number, which everyone was calling in on, and there was a space of a few days where the message that we'd constructed to go on that number wasn't working. We didn't know this for a little while." When they realised the problem, Prion immediately had Telstra correct it.

Anyone calling the 1800 number will now receive a recorded message telling them to go to the Prion Web site or send e-mail directly to Prion.

Shrinking margins

Larger buyers will continue to buy directly, and Prion has 1300 numbers in place. McLean says they have already been notified.

"It's just a question of shrinking margins and everything else that's been plaguing this industry," he said. "We've had to put an alternative in place for those very small resellers, because obviously they've supported us for a long time, things have squeezed as far as shrinking margins.

"But it's left a lot of business which is pretty unprofitable for us, so we're trying to find a way of doing that."

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