What Are The Top Three Metrics You Use To Measure Your Business, And Why?
They are customer delight, client retention, and resource efficiency.
Customer delight is a nebulous term, but for us, it represents the full life cycle of the client. We want to make sure they’re happy from the moment they walk through the door, so we engage with them immediately. Once they’re handed off to a certain location within our business, depending on what we deem is the best course of action for them, we’re always sure to track every movement as they progress through our workflow. Our No. 1 objective is to make sure we’re a good fit for our customers. The way we find that out is through surveying everything — and I mean everything. Project completion, IT issues, billing services, and communication tactics are just a few examples. We make it so that every step of the way, our customers have a chance to give us their opinions. We track our failures more than we track our successes.
This plays into easily keeping track of our customer retention because it helps us see who left us and why. If we weren’t a good fit, we always make sure we understand why. Sometimes, it’s a reasonable answer. For example, maybe they want to look for someone cheaper. We understand choices like those, and they have every right to make them. But I’m excited to say that we track almost 80% of what we call “boomerang customers,” those customers who leave us then come back. We always study why they leave and why they come back. We want to learn lessons from them. Was it one incident or a number of things? Did they have an issue with our philosophy? They often find it’s because no one else could do the kind of work we can do, and we take pride in that.
Resource efficiency boils down to having specific metrics for our employees to hit. We make sure they have the tools they need to achieve those goals, and they’re rewarded and compensated based on how well they perform. We actually make this public information to the entire team by sharing it on a board in a communal space, so you see how well you’re doing in comparison to your coworkers. Everyone’s goals and achievements are very clear, and everyone knows when they are or aren’t hitting them. Friendly competition stimulates a lot of passion to do good work, and this comes full circle because it motivates our staff to focus on providing customer delight.
What Is The Top Lesson You Had To Learn That Allowed You To Kick-start Your Business Growth?
I learned to stop trying to do everything myself by delegating and hiring smart people who can guide me in ways I can’t guide myself or some members of my team. These lessons didn’t come quickly or easily, though; it took around five years for us to get here. I worked in the business rather than on the business. It can be hard to let go of some control and implement new systems after so many years of ingrained systems. But now, we can take a step back, look around, and confidently say, “This is good. This is really good.” It just takes time to find the right flow.
What Would You Say Was The Single ‘Secret To Your Success’ This Past Year?
We have an amazing group of A-players at StoredTech. We’ve discovered that when you have B- or C-players in the mix, it tends to bring down the entire team. We’ve had a lot of successful moments over the past year, but when it boils down to it, removing those Bs and Cs to make room for only top-graded candidates really made an impact, even though it was a rough process to go through. It’s always exciting to bring on the A-players you’ve spent valuable time courting, but it’s heartbreaking to let go of people because even if they’re not the right fit for your business, they can still be good people. You forge friendships when you work closely with people; it can’t be helped. You get to know them and their families. But you’ve got to know when it’s the best time to make the right move for the business, not for your friends.
What Was The Biggest Challenge You Had To Overcome This Past Year Related To Either Reaching That Growth Or As A Result Of That Growth?
Finding the best-of-the-best staff, especially in our field of work, takes a lot of time and energy. When you go out looking for the very best people — the ones at the top of their games — they take longer to court and hire because it’s a matter of luring them away from their current situations. In a job market like IT, the unemployment rate is near zero. People get great offers from great companies and get comfortable with the work they do. So, it takes a lot of extra effort to bring that top talent into your circle and convince them to stay. But it’s well worth it.
Who Would You Say Is The Most Impactful Business Leader Or Business Thought-Leader Whose Techniques Or Leadership Style You Either Try To Emulate, Follow, Or Are Influenced By? Why?
Steve Jobs had a fanatical viewpoint on quality, which is what I like to think we have for customer delight. His passion and focus made him a master of his craft and made him the best at what he did. His company continues to be the best because of the passion he instilled and the systems he implemented. There’s a lot to learn from someone like that, both in emotional investment and business practices.
What Book Would You Recommend To Other MSPs Or SMBs Trying To Grow Their Businesses?
I have two. The first is “Hire the People You Want (and the Questions You Must Ask to Get Them!)” by Michael Cruz. It has been instrumental in changing the way we hire people who will stick with us and become part of the culture and fabric of our organization. The second is “Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top” by Bo Burlingham. It challenges you to start thinking today, even if you have no plans of exiting, about your company’s true value. Many of us aren’t even close to thinking about selling or exiting, but we should because there’s value to gain from just thinking about it. Succession planning, building a leadership team, and gathering advisors are all things many of us don’t think we have time for, but they are critical for growth.
In Closing, Do You Have Any Specific Advice Or Words Of Wisdom That You Would Give To Other MSPs Looking To Grow Or Build A Successful Exit For Their Business?
Focus on your core, and do what you do well. We have a saying at StoredTech: “If you have a better chance of doing more harm than good, then don’t do it.” Take risks. If something is pushing you outside your comfort zone, it’s probably not something bad. Do things you wouldn’t normally do. Always take the pulse of the client. If you delight customers every single day in every way, they will be your raving fans and help propel your business. I think most of us have a gut feeling about what is right. Listen to it. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
Company: Stored Technology Solutions, Inc. (StoredTech)
Year Founded: 2010
Headquartered: Queensbury, New York
Geographic Market: Global
Top Growth Indicator: Over 53,000 endpoints
YoY % Of Growth: 30%
CEO And Founder: Mark Shaw