If you're contemplating whether becoming a Technology Success Provider (TSP) is worth it, there’s someone you should hear from before making your decision.
Doug Miller, owner and CEO of Brightworks Group, has been a TruMethods member since 2017, and by the looks of it — just visit his company’s website if you don’t believe me — he’s already made the journey to Technology Success World. Will you join him?
I caught up with Doug to find out how his business is performing, learn more about the challenges he’s facing and ask about advice he’d give to vendors pitching MSPs.
A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.
Why did you decide to join TruMethods?
After hearing Gary speak about successful MSPs, what he was saying really resonated with me. Gary spoke about a number of things that we were already doing, but a lot that really spoke to some challenges we were experiencing.
We had worked with other business and MSP coaching companies, but none of them really seemed to understand the MSP world the way TruMethods did. I really felt like we needed to help and advice to overcome the challenges we were encountering. TruMethods seemed to offer answers and useful, actionable advice.
Since joining and implementing the TruMethods approach, our business has dramatically improved. The biggest change has been the degree of control and understanding of the business we have now. We're bringing on good clients that align with our business. We've let go customers that weren't a good fit and were costing us money and time.
Our business is calm and controlled. Service delivery happens at a very high standard, which delights our customers, without my constant intervention. We're growing the business without things being insane.
What are some of the top challenges your business is currently facing, and how are you overcoming them?
Our top challenge remains our sales effort.
Things have improved a lot, but we've struggled to get the right people in that role. At present, I've taken over all of the business development activities myself. This isn't a long-term solution, but at this point I feel like I need to repeat what I did for service delivery; I need to develop a solid process and then bring in people to implement the process.
We just haven't had good luck getting sales people to adopt the TruMethods approach. Too many of them think they know better.
What are your core business principles?
We have four core values: No drama; we hire adults; we are responsible, reliable, and right; and use smart tools.
Brightworks Group works best when we have responsible, accountable, motivated staff serving professionally-minded customers in a calm environment, using the best process automation tools we can find. We want to deliver unmatched levels of service to our customers.
We can't do that in an environment that's out-of-control and always fighting fires.
What have you learned from owning an MSP over the years?
You have to gain control over the business. To do that, you have to measure the right things, understand what it takes to change those metrics, and then take action.
Being the owner of an MSP means you have to work on the business more than working in the business. That can be tough for owners that come from a primarily technical or sales background who see themselves continuing to work primarily in those roles. Being the senior technician or director of sales may be satisfying, but it likely isn't going to help you get control of the business and grow it.
Hire smart people, share your vision of the company, repeatedly, and then get out of their way. Being actually proactive — meaning putting in place the right standards and best practices, and then constantly checking every customer's alignment with them — is the difference between happy customers that stay with you forever and angry customers with constant fires.
You don't need “account management” if you follow this technical alignment process. The difference between what most MSPs do and this is dramatic.
What feedback would you give to vendors pitching MSPs?
The thing I have the least of is time.
If you want my time to listen to your pitch, you need to be clear about how your product or solution is going to either save us time, enable us to provide our customers dramatically better service, or make it faster for us to gain new customers. Buzzwords and “speeds and feeds” aren't useful or interesting.
Most importantly, be genuine and human. If you want to be my partner, then show me you can really be a partner. I'm not really interested in just pushing your product.