- Company: BridgePoint Technologies
- Founded: Oct. 1, 2004
- Headquartered: Downers Grove, IL
- Geographic Market: Chicagoland area, with additional clients in Central and Eastern U.S.
- Top Growth Indicator: Profit
- YoY % Growth: 2016–2017: -200%; 2017–2018: 17%; 2018–2019 1,348.6%
- CEO & Founder: Michael Millhouse
What are the top metrics that you use to measure your business and why?
First, I look at revenue. I want to see what we’re pulling in, and we can adjust our budgets after that.
Another important metric we track, one that’s relatively new to us, is our labor efficiency ratio (LER). This includes direct labor efficiency and management labor efficiency. Basically, this metric analyzes how good our team is. It’s with this metric that we determine how good we are at our jobs. We were introduced to this by a gentleman named Greg Crabtree, author of “Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!” We’re working with him and his company to help improve our LER.
What’s the top lesson you had to learn that allowed you to kickstart your business growth?
A lot of it is centered on marketing. This is how we got hooked in with Robin Robins and Technology Marketing Toolkit. We had to learn how to effectively market what we do and who we do it for. We were never very good at it until we got involved with her group in 2017. Learning effective marketing involved changing our entire product and service offerings. We also had to change our internal operations and implement better control and tools in order to manage the following growth. This was a three-year journey to rebuild everything from front to back.
We also worked on hiring top talent. This has been a huge driver for us. We’re focused on providing IT services to legal and nonprofit spaces, so we’re really starting to dig in on hiring the best of the best to serve our clients in those industries.
What would you say was the single ‘secret to your success’ this past year?
Here’s the bottom line: What we did this past year, starting back in 2017, was work on increasing our customer service quality. To do this, we started hiring people who were less experienced on the heavy technology side and more experienced in the customer service side. We edited our job postings to emphasize the need for people who worked in the retail industry, the restaurant industry, or any other hospitality industry, who also had an IT background.
In my opinion, it’s hard to teach people how to give good customer service. We can teach them the technical stuff all day long, as long as they’re spongy and have a willingness to learn. But those soft skills are harder to teach.
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?
Time is a big one. Finding time to do all the things that have to be done is tough. To overcome this challenge, I focused on hiring a team of like-minded individuals. Beyond just hiring customer service-oriented people with strong technical skills, we also invested in hiring folks who have industry-specific skill sets.
As I mentioned earlier, we’re offering IT services to legal and nonprofit spaces. It’s important for us to have individuals who can speak the languages of those spaces. Last year, we hired a gentleman to be the Director of Service and Delivery. His background is that of a paralegal and an IT Director of a large law firm in Chicago. He is now on my team working with a lot of the law firm clients we have. It’s amazing to sit down for a quarterly business review with him and see how relieved the attorneys are to learn that among all these IT nerds, there’s someone who speaks their language.
Another challenge I’ve had to overcome in my career is the fact that I’m not a purely tech guy. I come from a background of tech but mostly in sales. I can’t do the hands on things that we sell, and I’ve had to find good people who can do these things. I’ve also had to learn how to read the numbers in business and understand what they mean. That’s where Greg Crabtree’s “Simple Numbers” has been monumental.
Who would you say is the most impactful business leader or business thought-leader whose techniques or leadership style you either try to emulate, you follow, or are influenced by and why?
I have several. Of course, Robin Robins is one. What she’s done and how she does it is remarkable. Her ability to take and document a process in her business to create a roadmap is something I have followed and implemented myself.
The others include a gentleman named James Clear. He wrote a book called “Atomic Habits” which is all about the power of making 1% changes in your life. He’s helped me make a lot of 1% changes personally and in the business. Instead of trying to knock out all the big tasks, we go for the smaller ones and make a lot of improvements along the way. Instead of trying to tackle a huge piece, it’s easier to break it down with his method. You actually see faster results that way.
I’ve also had the chance to meet folks like Daymond John of “Shark Tank” and Jack Daly, author of “Hyper Sales Growth.” They’re both experts in their field, and I’ve learned a lot from them.
What book would you recommend that other MSPs or SMBs trying to grow their business should read?
Jack Daly’s “Hyper Sales Growth” is a big one.
This business used to do $8 million a year with a lot of IT staffing. Then we kind of fell back and had to regroup and rebuild the company. From that, I’ve learned enough to the point where I can watch out for the mistakes I’ve made in the past. “Hyper Sales Growth” is really helpful for that.
For example, coming up with your sales playbook is huge. That’s how you want to manage your team and what you want them to do. Sales can cure a lot of problems. If you’re down, you can have someone in sales go out and bring more in. Then you have someone in operations work on the fulfillment aspects.
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?
Find and hire people who can replace what you do.
If you’re the CEO and the tech guy and the sales lead and the marketing person, you need to hire people to take over those roles. We tend to fall back into what we’re most comfortable doing. It happens to me, and I’m sure it happens to others. But staying where we’re comfortable can be dangerous. You can hit this comfort zone and think, “Oh, I’ll just keep doing the tech stuff because that’s what I’m good at.” But if you’re the CEO, that’s not where your attention needs to be.
I’m always looking for the next best hire, someone who’s smarter than me. I know I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I want that sharper knife on my team. I want someone who can come in, do what I do, but most importantly, do what needs to be done for the business. And that’s what we’re doing at BridgePoint Technologies.