Security Shredding and Storage - a shredding industry publication


By P.J. Heller

Andy Sokol is absolutely convinced that document destruction companies are “missing the boat” by not offering document scanning services for their clients.
The same, he says, is true for document storage companies that currently only scan-on-demand for customers who need a particular document or file.
“Shredding businesses and document storage businesses are really missing the boat if they’re not offering scanning,” Sokol says “If you’re shredding, you’re only doing a piece of what the customer really needs. If you’re storing, you’re only providing a piece of what the customer needs.
“Storing, shredding and scanning, all three go hand in hand,” he insists. “They complement each other really well. If you’re not offering them, you’re not providing a complete service for the customer and they’ll look elsewhere to find what they need, because most people want to do business with a single-source provider.”
Sokol, who owns and operates both CopyScan and recordSHRED in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says he has been asked so often for advice and suggestions on how to incorporate scanning services into a shredding business that he decided to set up a training program for others.
His first scanning school class is scheduled for June 24-26 — the inaugural class originally scheduled for April 22-24 was moved due to it being Easter weekend — and includes two days of classroom instruction in a beach area hotel and a half day of hands-on training at his CopyScan facility. He can accommodate up to 30 people in the class.
The class is aimed at people in the document destruction and records storage industries, quick printers, small business owners and legal professionals.
While acknowledging that there are other similar programs available, Sokol says what sets his Scanning 101 Bootcamp class apart is the fact it goes beyond the basics of scanning and imaging to focus on business aspects including marketing, sales and management.
“If you are new to scanning, you will learn a lot of information to get started,” he says. “If you are already scanning, you will learn how to take your business to a whole new level.
“What we’re teaching is how to go after lucrative markets, the types of users of scanning that pay lucratively, and how to speak their language so you understand customer needs,” he adds.
Those markets are primarily the legal, medical and manufacturing sectors.
Sokol, the “dean” of the scanning school, will teach the class along with training partner Gina St. George, who with 17 years of Fortune 500 corporate experience, will primarily focus on operations and helping attendees understand business systems and workflows.
“Not only will the students learn about operations and running an imaging production center, they will learn how to access different markets that need document imaging, speak the language of those customers, and close sales and gain imaging customers,” St. George says.
To drive that point home, the scanning school website warns that when working with law firms, for example, “If you are asked to scan pleadings into Summation format and OCR and Bates label them, and you don’t know what that means, you will never be able to scan documents for legal proceedings.”
Ditto for medical records — an area that is expected to be a bonanza for document scanning companies due to mandates under the new health care law as well as HIPAA requirements — which also has its own terms and alphabet soup of acronyms.
“We will teach you the language of EMR, EHR, and medical imaging,” Sokol says on his web site. “If a doctor’s office says that they want their PHI information scanned for MD Logic and they need TIFFs and X-rays made into DICOM and you don’t know what that means, they will not entrust their medical records to your company.”
Dealing with manufacturing companies and corporations is no less daunting, he notes, tossing out acronyms such as MRP, TQM, TPM, SAP and BPCS.
“In order to sell imaging on its own, shredding company leaders need to learn a lot of new vocabulary,” he says. “If you don’t understand what your customer will do with the images, how they will access them and what system and software they are using, it will be impossible for you to do the consultative selling required to sell imaging.”
St. George agrees, noting that people are often more concerned about equipment, document handling and the scanning operation.
“They think that’s the hard part,” she says. “That’s actually the easy part. I don’t mean to diminish it because you have to be able to do it right . . . but you can set up your production and never be able to sell it. If you don’t understand document management and how your customers are going to use it, the way different markets are using documents and you can’t talk to them, you will never be able to sell.”
Sokol launched CopyScan in 1995 after having worked for several years as a salesman for a copy and scanning company in Miami.
Initially, the bulk of CopyScan’s work was copying and duplicating documents for law firms handling litigation. Today, with advances in technology and software, Sokol reports that the majority of CopyScan’s business has shifted from copying and duplicating to document scanning. Scanning now accounts for about 80 percent of the business, he estimates.
While the company’s niche originally was handling work for law firms, recent federal requirements that medical facilities implement electronic health records (EHRs) has spawned a growth opportunity for CopyScan. The government’s goal is to establish an EHR for each individual in the U.S. by 2014.
As part of that effort, doctors and hospitals are being offered incentives by the federal government, typically of up to $44,000 per doctor, to implement EHR. Those funds are part of billions of dollars Congress allocated under the 2009 economic recovery package.
Sokol says those incentives will further drive CopyScan’s business, essentially allowing healthcare professionals to implement EHR with little or no out-of-pocket costs.
Sokol points out to customers that he can also provide document destruction services through recordSHRED once those medical records or other documents are scanned, providing a one-stop shop for their document needs.
“Once the documents are scanned and once everything is imported into their system and everything is the way it’s supposed to be, then the customer gives us the OK and we destroy the documents,” he says. “It’s just that simple.”
Sokol adds that while the scanning services may generate business for the shredding service, the opposite is also true. He says that by offering shredding services, customers are directing their scanning work to him as well.
Sokol got into the shredding business almost by accident. “I had no idea that shredding was even an industry,” he admits.
Privacy rules under HIPAA prompted some of CopyScan’s clients to ask the company to destroy boxes of documents.
“What happened was we went out and bought a $99 shredder from a local office supply company,” Sokol recalls. “The very first job that we did was eight boxes. It took us three days. It was just a nightmare and I didn’t even charge the customer. I didn’t have the heart to charge them enough for three days of labor for my employees.”
That led Sokol to start referring shredding projects to established document destruction companies. “I’m kicking myself for doing that because I was giving money away,” he says.
As scanning customers continued to ask for shredding services, Sokol realized that there was an opportunity for a new business. He attended a NAID conference in Orlando and soon after launched recordSHRED in 2003. The company utilizes mobile shredders from Shred-Tech, Allegheny and Ameri-Shred.
CopyScan employs both standalone scanners and digital copy machines from Ricoh that can print as well as scan.
“We’re still working with law firms and sometimes our customers want us to give them a paper copy as well as an image,” Sokol explains. “It’s kind of a crazy world we live in because even though they have all these images, sometimes they want paper.”
Scanned images are typically transported on CDs. CopyScan also has the capability to upload images to a client’s storage system, Sokol says.
The cost of starting up a document scanning business does not require a big investment, Sokol says, noting that the costs can easily be recouped with “one decent size scanning project.”
He reports that 2009 was a record year for CopyScan, driven in part by a Washington, D.C., law firm that hired the company to scan what Sokol thought was going to be two boxes of documents. What arrived at the facility were two 18-wheel tractor-trailers containing 47 pallets loaded with boxes of documents. It took six months to complete the scanning and shredding; the bill came to nearly $500,000.
Sokol says he wants to share the knowledge he has gained through his scanning and shredding businesses with others. He’s not worried about the competition.
“There’s plenty of business for everybody,” he says. “That’s why I don’t have a problem teaching it.
“We’ve been approached often by other shredding companies to tell them how to get into the scanning business,” Sokol says. “So instead of me trying to give quick answers, I decided to create a training program. There’s a huge need for this. This is such a great industry. It’s exploding.
“If you already offer shredding or document storage to your customers, and if you want to grow your customer base, then you need to add scanning . . . . It works out really, really well,” he says.



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