I have been at Infratactix 6 months now. I can’t believe how the time has flown by. As I have dug into the role of President / COO of the Madison, WI based Managed Service Provider, I have noticed some changes to the industry. However, many things have stayed the same. In this post I will share the changes I have observed in the industry and the changes I have made at Infratactix over the last six months.
To start, I will discuss the changes I have found in the business of being an MSP today vs when I had my MSP over 10 years ago. As an MSP, Infratactix utilizes a variety of tools from many different vendors. To me the big change in the MSP business today is the vendor community. The vendor community, in my opinion, has changed so much because of consolidation and venture capital investments. I am not anti-vendor; I am actually quite pro-vendor because as MSPs we can’t do our jobs properly without the technology these vendors build. But to me, the vendor community, probably because of consolidation, may have forgotten who their client is and who they serve. You may know that for the past couple of years I worked on the vendor side. I am quite happy that I am back in the MSP position.
A major change I am seeing in the vendor community is the skill set of the sales people. It seems the vendors have been “burning and churning” sales staff by hiring basically anyone who can, “fog a mirror” as the expression goes. They are doing this while providing little training on the products, industry, how to sell to an MSP and most importantly, how their product or solution is beneficial to us as the MSP and to our clients.
As the President of Infratactix, I push my team to always focus on customer service making sure we understand the business and culture of our clients. I believe all MSPs do basically the same things but we differentiate ourselves by making sure our focus is always on our customer. Over the last half year, as I have been able to get to know our current clients and understand their business, our culture has changed starting with how we engage with our client. Our engagement level and the services we provide are totally based on the client’s business needs and goals.
Entering an established company and making changes doesn’t come without some discomfort and concern from the existing staff. When I take on a project, especially when it is all falling on my shoulders, I come in like the proverbial bull in a china shop. I jump in and start making the needed changes. This time was pretty much the same except when I started I sat down with James, who at the time was our only full time technician. I informed him of the changes that were going to be made. James said to me, “I have heard all this before, nothing is going to change”. I took that as a challenge to steady the ship and move it forward.
Here are some the changes we have implemented over the last 6 months.
- Moved Infratactix to a Professional Employment Organization (PEO) for all of our human resources needs.
- Dedicated a person from the technical team to champion our top vendor solutions.
- Revamped our managed and cloud service offerings and pricing.
- Involved our company accountant in a deeper relationship to work with us on budgeting, forecasting and to help lower our tax liability.
- Added new revenue streams with new offerings.
- Became more engaged in our community through charity work with the VFW, Middleton Outreach Ministry and the March of Dimes of Wisconsin.
- The last and most important change restructured the company organizational chart. Company founder, Don Schultz, is now the full time CTO.
So far these changes are working out pretty well.
Just last week I sat down with James to discuss the good, bad and ugly of the last six months. James said to me, “Stu, you said you were going to make changes to the company and I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen but you did it…sometimes in a way that didn’t agree with me. It seems that everyone, including our clients are happier. I know that I enjoy my job a lot more. The one thing I have noticed about you, is that you are able to help all of us be better at our jobs. Even Don is more focused. Thank you for making Infratactix a much better company, I am happy to be here.”
When I came on to Infratactix 6 months ago, there was a staff of 5 (2-part time and 3 full time). We are now 6 (2-part time and 4 full time) and on pace to be upwards of at least 9 full time staff by years’ end. As we closed out 2016, we increased company revenue from the same time frame (Aug – Dec) a year before by more than 20%. This was accomplished by building better processes and working as a team. As far as revenues, we are currently on pace to triple overall company revenue in 2017.
As I close out the first 6 months at Infratactix, I can tell you I am not making the kind of money that I have made in the past (not even close.) But, I am the happiest I have been in a very long time. When you work with great people and do what you love, the money is not as important and it really is all worthwhile.
All the best in success,