I recite this tale to those who listen, quite often. I’ve actually refrained from talking about it publically for some time in the fear that I may offend some potential clients or scare some people off. It’s not until recently until a valued partner of ours pointed out that the people we scare off, probably shouldn’t be our clients anyway that I actually thought it makes a good blog. In the myriad of business books I’ve read over the years, they actually refer to this as a “self-weeding garden” – and who doesn’t want one of those!…
Anyway, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. I want you to think back a few years, back to the good old days of single party majorities in the houses of parliament, no such thing banking crisis and times were good. This is the time I should have really set up Unleashed. I didn’t, I waited just as things were starting to go bad, my expertise in construction led me to working with companies that I could relate to and we were providing IT Support or Managed Services Contracts (to you snobs) to SME companies.
The IT Support good guys
What then occurred, nobody really predicted. Mr Brown told us no more boom and bust! We were working for a lot of businesses that were rapidly losing their sources of income and certainly not investing in their IT. Now, these companies in my opinion didn’t really change their base behaviour – they never saw IT as key or strategic to their operations, but when times were good and they had the choice of spending profit on IT or be taxed on it, then they spent it. What subsequently happened to us is that our clients wouldn’t invest in equipment refreshes or do anything that we were advising that they needed to do – they simply saw our managed services fee as a get-out-of-jail free card and expected us to work miracles with failing and ancient kit.
Contrary to popular belief, there are also some good IT guys out there who still believe in customer service. I had the absolute sympathy with the business owners who had a choice of cutting costs, keeping people employed and spending on their IT. I know where we were on the pecking order. We did our best to support these customers, but many of them failed and went under. The stress it caused me in particular meant that I have steered clear of IT Support contracts for many years, focussing the business on larger companies and project works. We like to think of ourselves as the IT Company for IT Professionals after all.
Times change, things get better
I couldn’t honestly tell you whether the economy is recovering. We are certainly busier. I’ve noticed two things on this side of the recession that has made me want to go back to our old world of IT support. There’s more companies like us, younger companies with some very dynamic management teams passionate about their brands and technology. The other is of course, the technology – amazing, you’ve not actually stopped and felt the change have you? Well before the recession the first iPhone was useless – come on, yes it was, it didn’t even have 3G it was an iPod with a GSM card. The app ecosphere, software as service and everything has come on leaps and bounds – businesses now do their accounts on web based software, not on the staid old Sage Line 50. Connectivity too – fibre to the cabinet has changed how we connect and interact in ways that I didn’t think was possible. Domestic technology now outperforms and significantly undercuts commercial technology pre-recession.
Some of the companies that we’re currently working with have got me so excited about what they do and their brands, that they’ve changed my opinions on IT Support and how we now structure our offerings in this area. I’ve become quite passionate about working with more companies like that and had my faith restored.
The IT Support two way street
At present we’re looking for marketing companies to help us – to the point where I’m a bit fed up of looking, what I want is a trusted advisor who can help me grow my business, give me sound advice – even if I don’t like it. The same goes for what we do, if you want to have a proper IT support contract, you’ve got to be a business who’s keen to take advice and be dynamic enough to work with your chosen partner. If you’re open enough about what your budget is and what you’d like to do, then you’ll achieve far much more than treating your IT support provider like the enemy and trimming costs wherever you can.
I’m the first to say that trust is earned, but you can generally way people up from the off. I like to think here at Unleashed we are good, honest caring people – and if that doesn’t come across from me or my staff then I do genuinely want to know.
We’re really looking to do more IT Support contracts for companies who think like we do, we actually want to help you achieve and grown your business, why? It’s simple, we’ll grow together and achieve far much more than we could individually.
As a manager or director of a SME and you’re looking for IT support or if you’re posh, managed service contract and you’re truly looking for a provider who wants to understand your business – even has a process (an Unleashing process!) for doing so then me and my team would love to talk – that bit, after all, is free.