Q*Soft responds to growing pains

Recent staff turmoil at Q*Soft's Melbourne office and dealer complaints about service levels in a number of states suggest the national distributor is suffering growing pains.

Q*Soft managing director Douglas Heath, speaking from Q*Soft's Brisbane headquarters, said the problems were transitory and were being addressed.

Q*Soft has hired a new branch manager in Melbourne after parting company with the previous manager and some staff.

"We simply had the wrong people in Melbourne," Heath said. "We were very busy with our infrastructure and computer systems and there is always the risk of leaving decisions on staff too late."

He conceded that service has suffered as Q*Soft's business volume builds.

"I admit our phones are incredibly busy. We have more than 1000 calls a day coming in and that has caused our apparent service levels to drop."

Q*Soft has reacted by adding five new staffers to take its national head count to about 70. It is also poised to open a Web site from which dealers will be able to download pricing, availability and product information.

Those initiatives will reduce the pressure on Q*Soft's resources even though it is now heading into what traditionally are its three busiest months of the year, Heath predicted.

The arrival of the Web site ( was delayed because Q*Soft underestimated the effort and cost involved in taking it live "by a factor of 100", he said.

Heath suggested that few of Q*Soft's major competitors can point to high customer service satisfaction ratings.

"Given the margins our sorts of distribution businesses are forced to run at, you can't go out and hire 50 people to throw at the problem."

At the same time, "it is of great concern to us because we built Q*Soft on service. With growth and huge volumes, your systems take time to catch up. "But I believe we are through that now and on to the next level."

Heath downplayed speculation on when Q*Soft's US alliance partner Ingram Micro will choose to establish a stronger presence in Australia.

"I met them in the last week to update them on the Australian market. If they do come to Australia, they may do something with Q*Soft but that's all I can say.

"They have other agendas in Brazil, Japan and Singapore. Australia is a little way down the list for them."